Monday, October 13, 2014

How Not to React to a Bad Review

Over the weekend there was some drama over at Tenkar's Tavern (I know, shocking), but it wasn't the grumpy, drunken dwarf this time, but Dragonwars of Trayth who had a Kickstarter campaign running and Erik called it out.  Here's the link to the review.  Erik has since embellished it with some interesting pictures, but only after he was threatened with a lawsuit.

If you checked out the link you'll see Dragonwars of Trayth has since removed his (I'm assuming it's a male) comments and I believe the Kickstarter is dead.  At least I couldn't find a link to it any longer.  The comments were ridiculous.  And unfortunate.

Years ago I wrote a similar post with the same name, an author of a book had a breakdown in the comment section as she attacked the reviewer.  She made it a 100 times worse.

I get the emotional ties people invest into their products.  They spend a lot of time and effort into them, but because you poured your life's blood into a book or Kickstarter or adventure doesn't mean people are going to like it.   You have to be prepared to receive negative criticism.  If you put it out into the public, it's going to happen.  

Some of the negativity will come from dipshits who are going out of their way to be asses.  But at least they purchased your product or took the time to steal it.  Even when you get a negative review you are more than likely going to get a few sales from it.  Just happens.  When you get a negative review from someone who just hates it because reasons that make no sense (I had one guy who didn't like one of my adventures because it wasn't Tomb of Horrors...no shit, not supposed to be, but for what ever reason he wanted ToH2 and his review was not well thought out and had to do more about him than me) don't reply to these guys.  Just mark it off as someone who didn't like it.  Whatever you do, don't defend what you wrote.  It only makes you look desperate.  

Then you'll have the reviewer who is negative, but states his points, well thought out and highlights some of your weaknesses.  These guys are golden.  I'm serious.  First of all they have taken the time to read your product thoroughly and then they have dissected it to break it down into parts to talk about it.  I've had just as many good reviews for Knowledge Illuminates as I have had bad.  When you get reviewers who take their time to do this, thank them.  Thank them for taking the time for reading and doing a review and maybe they will like the next product better.

There is a lot of in between of these two types.  Some reviews matter more than others.  Some reviewers opinions matter more than others.  Be generous and polite or sometimes silent.  In this day and age very few have the skill to be silent.

It's important to have a thick skin, to not have an ego about your work.  Be proud of what you've done, but don't think it's untouchable.  Do the best work you can do at the time.  If you do your best more people are going to like it than not, but be prepared for the negativity that comes with putting your work into the public.

I think I've used this quote before, but I think it's great.  R.L. Stone of Goosebumps fame has an all-time favorite criticism.  "I've read 40 of your books and I think they're really boring."

I guess to sum up my blathering, don't get pissed off by a bad review.  Don't fall in love with the good reviews.  Listen to both.  If you're hearing a lot of criticism about a specific thing you better take a look at it and see what you can do to fix it.  Most of all, get to work on your next thing.  

11 comments:

  1. Good advice. I was a creative writing major as an undergrad, so I'm used to criticism, but it was hard to take at first. Taking criticism well takes practice which a lot of people don't have.

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    1. I forged some of my my thick skin by attending critique classes. It was a learning experience. A good one.

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  2. Aww, Man don't take away the drama.

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    1. heh, there will always be room for some Jason.

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  3. On the very rare occasions I have gotten a negative review, I usually have a brief period of butthurt, but always followed by a re-reading with an eye towards anything that I could fix. I have been fortunate in that none of the reviews I have gotten (mainly for my fiction on Kindle) have been stupid or pointless. But Tim Brannon had some good insights to my first product, Basic Arcana, which actually made me develop some new content on the spot.

    My only lament about reviews is that I don't get enough of them. :)

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    1. It would be nice to get more reviews on the whole. I always say I'm going to do more, but rarely do it. I think it's an important part of the process. And Tim has very good insights about products.

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  4. The trick is to deal with your detractors quietly and without an audience. In a back alley, or while they're sleeping maybe.

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    1. "It rubs the lotion on its skin. It does this whenever it is told. It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again."

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  5. Nothing better than watching idiots have Verbal Diarrhea then commit commercial suicide. Where'd I put my popcorn?

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  6. Very well written Tim. As they pointed out in their extensive credentials, it takes years of experience to learn to take criticism for what it is--another opinion. You know the quote--everyone has an opinion.

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  7. I read everyone of your blog posts. And they all suck.

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