What Authors Should Be Doing About Bad Online Reviews

Remember the days when the only “reviews” of your book were the ones published in newspapers and magazines? Boy, how times have changed. We’re now in the era of American Idol and Facebook — one where “Joe the Plumber” has a voice just as influential as educated journalists.

This new “voice of the people” has created a conundrum for authors: How do you handle bad reviews online? These pans of your book can be appearing on blogs, message boards, Amazon … or even your own website.

So what’s an author to do about such comments? Here’s what you should NOT do: ignore them.

Let’s start by looking at businesses and how they handle poor reviews of their services. A new study by Harris Interactive reveals that a large percentage of consumers who got a kind response from a company after writing a complaint on a social media site either deleted their negative review, posted a follow-up review in a more positive tone, and/or turned into loyal customers. It makes sense, right? People feel good when their voice is heard and their negative feelings acknowledged.

Now, an author is not a company, and a book is different from a service. But the idea is similar. People appreciate a response and respect for their opinion.

So what should you do if someone posts a negative review of your book on their blog, on Facebook or on Amazon? Reply to them! Tell them that you’re sorry they didn’t appreciate a specific aspect of your book, and ask them what they would have liked done differently. If they have any questions or were confused by anything, take the time to clarify what they might have misunderstood.

It’s hard for authors not to take poor reviews personally — even if they are written by people who know far less than you do about a good book. But it’s probably in your best interest to suck it up, be nice, and respond. Not only may you sway the person who didn’t like your book in the first place, but you could win over a whole slew of new readers by taking the time to respond kindly and politely.

How have you handled poor online reviews? Share your experiences with us!