Written by Holly Kelly
When I began my writing career, I was a naïve, quiet, and unassuming woman. And then I was published. It was like stepping into a boxing ring with your beating heart strapped to your chest waiting for people to pummel it. For those of you who are published writers, you probably know what I’m talking about. If you don’t, just wait. Your turn will come.
My first few reviews were wonderful—coming from friends, family, reviewers who were part of my publisher’s street team, and yes, even great reviews from complete strangers. I was on cloud nine as they poured in. Then it happened. After about a month, I got my first scathing review, and it was bad—real bad. It included not only comments about how awful a writer I was, but also accusations that I’d plagiarized another author’s work–an author I hadn’t even heard of at the time. I thought I was prepared for something like this. I knew it would happen. But this review hurt. I was angry, and I really wanted to hit back. But I didn’t. I was told by my publisher not to respond to negative reviews. So I just kept quiet.
It helped that the positive reviews far outnumbered the negative ones, but I couldn’t seem to get over that bad first review. I waited a year before I looked into who this reviewer was. Surprisingly, she was another author—another author who regularly gives bad reviews. Actually, now that I’ve been in the business a while, I realize that the biggest threats seem to come from other writers. You see, for some it’s satisfying to rip apart other authors—especially ones who’ve written books that are experiencing more success than theirs. And my book—despite her efforts to discredit it—has been a bestseller from the day of release even until today. And I’ve since published several other works—all continuous best sellers.
Now don’t get me wrong. I get that not everyone will love or even like my books. Some will legitimately hate them. And, I’m okay with that. What I don’t get is when a bad review pops up, it seems that the forces are rallied. It’s sad that people are much more likely to hit that button that says a review is helpful, if the review is a bad one. In fact, the more vicious the review, the more likes it gets. Not only that, but you need to watch out for those who try to bait you. I’ve been warned, once again, by my publisher–I really love my publisher, btw–to ignore those trying to get a rise out of you. They said there are people just waiting to showcase an author who is “behaving badly”. It doesn’t matter what happened to cause the reaction by the author. Authors are always expected to be above such behavior. Basically, to avoid problems, authors must always turn the other cheek.
As for my books, I’ve have had problems with haters and trollers. I did reach a point where I had to rally my fans to come to my aid when things got bad. Having the first ten top-rated reviews filled with I hate this book, is not a fair portrayal of my book—especially when its average rating was well over four stars.
And I’m not the only one experiencing this—in fact, mine’s a really mild case compared to many other authors, and the problem is rampant. Many have fallen victim to vicious haters—authors like Cassandra Clare, Lauren Howard, Amy Harmon, and to a greater extent with Stephenie Meyer.
Case in point, I have a lot of author friends on facebook—most of whom I don’t actually know. But I do know this, if I put ANYTHING about Stephenie Meyer up in a post, the haters come out in droves. Funny how she can sell an insanely large amount of books, and yet so many people hate them. Often they aren’t satisfied with saying, “it just wasn’t for me.” They have to explain how her books shouldn’t be for anybody. And if you do like her books, it’s because you’re an idiot. If we were to do that to a simple unknown author it would be cruel. So why isn’t it considered cruel doing that to Ms. Meyer? She is a real person with real feelings, right? And if you don’t think she sees these attacks, think again.
It’s something to consider—especially if you hope to have success with your own books. Reminds me of a lesson I learned as child—do unto others…
You know the rest.
So, enough of the guilt trip, and onto the real reason I’m writing this article: If you’re an author, and you’re having trouble with haters, what should you do?
In my experience, it truly is best to not personally engage them. Let their statements fall on deaf ears. If their hateful reviews are gaining attention, rally your friends to help by liking the “real” helpful reviews. And then, do your best to ignore the bad reviews and the argumentative comments. If you come in contact with haters on Facebook or Google+—the fix is easy. Don’t answer them, simply use the handy dandy ban or unfriend button. These are probably things you know already, but I have one more thing I really think should be done.
Be nice to other authors—especially authors who have been kind to you! Give their books a look on Amazon and Goodreads, and click that like button when you see an honestly good, informative review. Be proactively good. Be proactively kind. I truly believe that good, kind readers and writers outnumber by far the negative haters. So let’s band together. Find authors you connect with, and help one another out. That’s the best way to defeat the haters.
About Holly Kelly:
Holly Kelly is most well known for her best selling Rising Series. Her first published work, RISING, was published late in 2013 and rose quickly to become a best seller. At the publication of her second book, DESCENDING, both books gained more momentum. Rising taking the #10 spot in the ENTIRE Free Kindle Store, and in the genre of Mythological Fiction DESCENDING reached the #1 spot–hanging out there for months! The third book in the series, AVENGING, has now been released and it too is a best seller. In fact, it’s best selling not only in the US, but also the UK, Germany, and Spain making it an International Best Seller!