Mean Book Reviews Are A Fact Of Life For Authors

Mean Book Reviews

Today’s book market gives power to readers – even the not so nice ones.

Less than ten years ago, readers had little opportunity to review books.

Book reviews were only found in newspapers and the back blurb of books. How things have changed.

Nowadays, every reader can have their say. Not only via online retailer reviews but also on dedicated social media book sites such as Goodreads, as well as an individual reader’s own book review blog, of which there are thousands.


With the freedom to have their say, readers have the collective power to make or break any book. It is worth remembering that Fifty Shades would never have seen the light of day without its initial popularity, which was driven in total by online readers.

It is also worth recalling that not all reviews of the initial, or even later versions of the book were positive.

For new self-publishing authors, it needs to be understood that the book buyer and reader, which are not always one and the same due to free ebooks, can range from being ambivalent, supportive or offering balanced criticism and praise, to being downright nasty, mean-spirited and even rude.

The infamous one-star troll, as nasty book reviewers have often been labelled, will remain a part of the book publishing market, so you have to accept it as a fact of life.


Not everyone on this planet is nice and in a good mood.

Learning to cope with, and ignore, blatantly spiteful and nasty reviews is something all authors have to do.

But for new authors, the first few bad reviews are always disturbing, even traumatic. It is a very natural reaction after putting one’s heart and soul into writing a book.

Gaining book reviews is really tough because few readers bother to post reviews of books they read.

However, as has been seen many times, especially on Goodreads over the years, some nasty reviewers can often be nasty and habitual. It is hard I know, but you should really ignore people like this on social media forums.

When it comes to readers who post rational reviews that are critical of a book though, these should not be ignored.

A bad review is not necessarily a mean review, but a reader’s honest appraisal of a book.

If the review is not personally attacking, is balanced, and contains comments that suggest that the book was indeed read, then this is honest reader feedback, and should be of value to the author.

Thinking back to the time when readers had no voice in book reviews, this direct connection between reader and author is now something that should be viewed as positive and constructive.

A book is a product, and like any other product that is bought online, it is subject to buyers’ reviews.

Restaurants, hotels and even bicycle pumps are subject to the same kind of buyer opinion.


Today’s authors cannot escape it, so learning to handle the good with the bad is very much part and parcel of book publishing.


For new authors, the best way to handle book reviews are:


1. Accept as fact that not every reader will like your book, so you will always get both good and not so good reviews.

2. Never respond to any type of book review on Amazon or other retailers, except perhaps to click the ‘Was this review helpful’ button.

3. Never respond to bad reviews on any social media forum or blogs, because you will never win the argument.

4. Learn from honest, balanced and critical reviews.

5. Totally ignore the mean and nasty trolls. Yes, tough to do, I know.

6. Always celebrate your fantastic reviews!!


More reading: Fix Amazon Book Reviews – Problems And A Workaround


Derek Haines

A Cambridge qualified CELTA English teacher and author of 18 books with a life long passion for publishing in all forms. I started my working life as a lithographer and spent over 30 years in the printing and publishing business. Originally from Australia, I moved to Switzerland 20 years ago. My days are spent teaching English, writing and wrestling with technology while enjoying my glorious view of Lake Geneva and the Alps.

7 thoughts on “Mean Book Reviews Are A Fact Of Life For Authors

  • March 20, 2018 at 2:25 am

    I received several 4 star reviews when I first published my book. I was thrilled because someone took the time to give their honest opinions and criticism. Then someone gave me 5 stars! One morning I logged into my account and a puny 1 star blinked at me. How could that be? It must be a mistake! What’s wrong? A woman said that my book deserved a low rating because I omitted something from the story. My book is a novel about a small town during the 1960s. The woman pointed out that she’d lived there at that time and she was an expert on the town’s history. I almost responded with my opinion of her, but I knew it wouldn’t change anything. She is a book review troll just like all the other trolls out there. People can be hateful!

  • March 28, 2016 at 9:03 am

    The first review for my book was a mean comment. Obviously the reviewer was set against the genre & latched onto the book title to rip everything apart. I was beside myself. Fortunately other reviews started flowing in both from those passionate about the genre (paranormal/psychic phenomena) as well as skeptics. The latter response was particularly eye-opening. The skeptics, even if the content wasn’t to their liking, focused on the research and style of writing and this lead to some great comments being posted.

  • March 2, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    Our mothers have ALWAYS taught if you don’t have anything nice to say about someone DON’T say it; and I believe the same applies to writing a book review. Which is why if I can’t give at least 3 STARS I don’t post the review.

    Many mean reviews I feel are due in part to the authors who FORCE their books on individuals who aren’t interested in the book’s genre; which is why I don’t accept requests to review a book, I only review books I obtain myself, and those I win in giveaways for books I’m interested in reading. I know I’ve written a good review when I receive a compliment from the author who’s book I’ve reviewed.

    • March 2, 2016 at 5:22 pm

      On the whole Robin, I think genuine book reviewers/book bloggers behave very well, and usually give a very balanced account of their thoughts on the books they read. Even less than complimentary reviews contain balanced reasoning.

      The mean reviewer though, is very often a social media troll, who is acting purely out of spite for whatever reason. They normally post only one short line of very negative text, which I think potential readers have now learned to ignore.

  • February 26, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    These days I don’t bother to peruse the reviews both good and bad of any of my books. Unless that is, someone tells me of a four or five star positive review. Then and only then will a take a look at the review in question.

    • February 26, 2016 at 2:04 pm

      I think readers are learning to ignore silly reviews too Jack. It doesn’t take a lot of nous to spot the mean ramblings of an idiot reviewer.

      • March 2, 2016 at 12:04 pm

        That’s for sure. Although the first review I received was far from good, most of the comments did not reflect at all to what I had written and said the book was about. It did however, make me realise that my editing was not as good as I thought. I then used an editor to revise it and for my next book, a memoir that was much longer than my ebook.


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