If you are active online, negative people and criticism are a fact of life
Your blog, your books or your presence on social media are all open targets for a negative person.
It is all too common to get negative comments on your blog articles or harsh criticism of your books on Amazon.
Goodreads has had a checkered history, and personal attack is still the weapon of choice for many of the infamous Goodreads trolls.
The word criticism means the analysis and judgement of the merits and faults of a literary or artistic work.
Sadly though, you’ll find those who don’t look at the positive and negative aspects of a book. Their preferred form of criticism is to get personal.
Blog comments are a terrific means of interacting with readers and a source of positive energy. But there are times when you can get comments that are nasty, and they make it tough to remain positive.
Social media was initially about connecting with friends and family members. But today, it is difficult to restrict who can communicate with you.
The online world is not populated exclusively with rational and positive people. Luckily, they are in the majority.
However, there are the few who have no concept of constructive criticism and can make it tough for you to stay positive.
Here are a few ideas for you on how to keep your cool and manage negative behaviour and online criticism.
Book reviews are rarely real book reviews
On most online book retailers, there is no heading saying book reviews. They are called Customer Reviews, customer Feedback or merely Comments.
You will hardly ever find anything approaching literary criticism in the form of a balanced seven-hundred-word review.
What you will find are quick clickable star ratings and a point of view that seldom extends past twenty words.
Customer reviews are in the same format as feedback on any product, such as a hairdryer, lawnmower or sports shoes.
So these have nothing to do with literary or artistic critique. People don’t spend time agonising over what they say. It is usually, I liked it, or I didn’t, and click a star.
Worse still is that people do not even need to buy a product to leave a comment.
I know that new authors, in particular, can get very downhearted when they receive a silly, dumb, thoughtless or nasty review. What makes it worse is that retailers like Amazon usually refuse requests to delete them.
The best way to handle these reviews is to ignore them. It’s easy to say I know, and hard to accept. But most people are not stupid, and they will have the same reaction as you to an obviously baseless or nasty review.
Book buyers are sometimes influenced by the total number of reviews, but rarely by what a few idiots have to say.
Another way to help reduce these silly reviews is to avoid forums such as Goodreads, some Facebook groups or even Kboards. Trolls love discussion forums, so reducing your exposure will make you far less of a target.
Controlling your blog comments
The more popular your blog becomes, the more chance you will have of getting whacky comments.
You will also get a lot more comment spam. Both of these have a negative effect on your blog.
However, you can manage these problems quite easily. All you need to do is to change your settings so you can moderate all your comments.
On WordPress, the settings are in the Discussion tab. Similar parameters are an option on almost all blogging platforms.
It takes a little bit of extra time to check your email for new comments and to approve them. But the upside is that you can keep your blog comments positive, or at least reasonable.
Remember, it’s your blog, and it’s not an open forum for spammers and people with an axe to grind.
Never feel guilty about taking control and allowing only the comments you are happy to have on your blog.
It doesn’t mean that you are going to block every comment that disagrees with you. But you can keep it to sensible, rational and productive criticism.
When you reply to comments, maintain your online image as a positive person. Never get into a heated debate or resort to any form of personal offence on your blog, even if you are offended.
Remember, it’s your blog, and you always have the trash button option for any unwelcome comments.
Social media is changing
Many people are reevaluating how they use Facebook, Twitter and other platforms.
Privacy concerns are now top of mind, and the amount of time spent each day on social media is falling.
However, it is still a viable and necessary element in expanding your blog reach and in book promotion.
Many authors and bloggers are changing from using social media via their personal profiles and instead, moving to business pages as better promotional tools.
It is a wise move as they offer much more control and reduce the amount of personal exposure.
If you are using your personal profile and have a long list of friends you do not know, perhaps it’s time to do a stocktake and reduce the possibility of negative interaction.
On Twitter, there are many options to block or hide users or to protect your account.
The best approach with social media is to cut off the avenues for users who are habitually negative or aggressive.
Everyone can have a bad day.
It can be caused by a minor work dispute, a family argument, illness or tax bill in the post. We all accept that people can have an off day.
Because we spend so much time online, it’s not unusual for comments and messages to occasionally reflect a temporary negative mood.
But there are some people who lack a little emotional intelligence and are habitual in behaving badly. Sometimes it is driven by jealousy, envy or intolerance. Most often though, it is purely attention seeking.
Rewarding these people with attention is the worst option you can take. As much as you would like to vent your spleen, the best response is no response.
We all spend a great deal of time online nowadays. The best way to spend it is to be positive and stay positive.
There is nothing to be gained from pandering to negativity.
Related reading: Do You Want To Make A Passive Income From Your Writing?