Three ways to deal with bad reviews


This also applies to good reviews, great reviews and mediocre reviews.


I know. This sounds counterproductive, but it’s the number two piece of advice I’ve seen from successful writers (right behind turn off the internet and just write).

Most bad reviews aren’t worth reading. They’re not specific enough about what the reader hated. Telling the writer her novel is boring, is full of bad language, is nothing but smut, has one-dimensional characters, etc, is too broad. And it may be a one hundred percent accurate assessment from that reader, but it’s also  just as likely they wouldn’t have liked your novel no matter which of those defects you addressed because it’s the wrong book for them.

On the other hand, maybe they’re right and its a lousy book. You don’t know how to write. In that case, practice makes perfect. You don’t want to let a one-star review derail you, so don’t read them.

And then from the opposite side of the scale, good reviews and great reviews are usually just ego fluff. You know you’re not as good as what they say. Personally I wish Amazon would re-do its rating system. Not very much really deserves that 5-star rating. But the 3-star rating (where almost everything except absolute crap truthfully belongs) tells everyone  that the book is just okay. I’m agitating for a bad, good, better, and best rating system.


If you follow this path you’re going to get your ego inflated and feel on the top of the world with the good reviews.  And then you’re going to feel like dog poop and want to lash out at everyone when you get one of those I hated it rankings. The roller coaster of good reviews vs bad reviews can be harmful to your work, as well as harmful to your self-esteem.

However, if you can teach yourself to pick out the constructive information in the reviews you can try to learn from them.

Say that some reviewer tells you  your characters lack depth. So, take a writing course on depth. Does everyone call your book a fast-paced read, but you meant it to be a slow and comfortable cozy. Drop out for a bit and practice pacing. Reviewers announce they couldn’t finish the book. If they say why and where they stopped, take a look at that section. Did you do something different here.  But if what they’ve said is too many typos, doesn’t know how to write, horrible grammar...well, maybe so and maybe not. Some people write with fragments these days. Some people never use whom.

(Except for the typo part. Go back in and fix that ASAP).


I’ve read lots and lots of advice against ever engaging with the reviewers and I have to say I agree. No matter how much I want to say thanks to the reviewers who liked my books, no matter how I might want to say sorry to the reviewers who hated my books, I do neither. I think it’s very important that reviewers be left alone to write what they want.

But, there are some authors who do engage. If you decide to take that path, be sure you’ve read and understood the review etiquette that Amazon enforces. Then keep it to a simple thank you note. Address the bad reviews the same way with a thank you for your input and a sorry. And be prepared for some back and forth comments.


Right now I’m squarely in the learn from your reviews camp, hoping to move into the never read your reviews contingent one day.

And obviously there are more than three ways to deal with bad reviews. I can think of several that start with printing down the copy and finding where you kept the matches. Might be cathartic.

But here’s a less violent way to get in a better frame of mind after a one-star I hate your book and the horse you rode in on review.

Go to any author listing you admire and pick out your absolute favorite of his/her books. Find the one-star reviews he/she got. Read them. Gasp in horror. You loved that book! How could someone hate the same book you loved so much? Makes your own bad reviews look tepid in hindsight, doesn’t it.


You can see my bad reviews at


THE COWBOY’S BABY is free through Amazon and then through Smashwords


WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:  Holes In The Ground by J. A. Konrath and Iain Rob Wright.  Talking to the Dead Guys by Gretchen Rix.  Artful by Peter David.  The Cowboy's Baby

From the BBQ capital of Texas, why I’m re-reading my own book

Lockhart, Texas is the BBQ capital of Texas. It’s where I live right now. And it’s the setting for my first mystery novel TALKING TO THE DEAD GUYS.  

A sequel will be out this year. Tea With A Dead Gal.

A sequel will be out this year. Tea With A Dead Gal.

Which I am re-reading.


Why read your own book in the first place?  I’m going to pretend you didn’t ask that question.

Okay, then. Why are you re-reading your own book? I have the rough draft of the sequel TEA WITH A DEAD GAL ready for revisions. I need to re-familiarize myself with details of the setting, character quirks, tone of novel, lots of things.  It’s been two years. We don’t want to have Flannery acting like Olive or anything like that, do we?

Sounds like you were too lazy to create a Bible of your story. That’s not a question, but I’ll address it anyhow. It’s more fun re-reading than looking at a spreadsheet.

 I still think it reeks of laziness, but whatever. How are you enjoying TALKING TO THE DEAD GUYS, then?  I’m only a third of the way through it. So far, so good.

 Sounds like that joke from The Magnificent Seven.  And you just used the phrase “sounds like” twice within about two inches of space. 

Oops! So, when will we see TEA WITH A DEAD GAL (and who comes up with these titles, anyhow?)  By the end of November. And you’ll also see THE SAFARI BRIDE, and there’s even the possibility you’ll see BABY SINGS THE BOOS. It’s usually me who comes up with the titles, but sometimes my sister Roxanne contributes. She came up with BABY SINGS THE BOOS.

Don’t you think writing so many books in one year impacts your writing quality?  No, I don’t.

How do you feel about reviews, then? Reviews help sell books, so I like reviews. As a reader myself I try to review the books I enjoyed. Unless they already have a gazillion reviews. Those guys don’t need my help.

What was the best and most memorable review you’ve done. Way, way back in my youth I got to sit in on an interview and then review Tom Tryon’s book Crowned Heads. That was probably the best review I ever wrote. (He was pretty damned good-looking, too).

Okay. What do you think… Enough for now. Catch you up next time.


WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:  Hard Landing by Lynne Heitman.

FREE for Kindle readers and for those who prefer Smashwords


My sweet romance, romantic comedy, Texas-centric take on the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale THE COWBOY’S BABY is FREE FREE FREE FREE.

Get it here if you have a Kindle or Kindle app

Get it here if you work through Smashwords  romantic comedy


THE COWBOY’S BABY GOES TO HEAVEN is the sequel to THE COWBOY’S BABY.  There’s another book planned, plus late 2014 Baby and the gang will be featured with Boo Radley and the gang from TALKING TO THE DEAD GUYS in an original never-before-published short story collection called BABY SINGS THE BOOS. Look for it near Christmas.

You can find my other work at






WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:  Seven of Spectres by Jim Moon.

3 Things I Learned at the RWA Nationals in San Antonio

This is what yard art looks like in Texas.

This is what yard art looks like in Texas.

I learned a lot more than 3 things at the RWA Nationals in San Antonio last week. I’m going to start by utilizing what they told me in the Blog Bites session with speaker Lisa Wells, which is to use numbers in the title (See that 3 up there?) and to keep it short.

1. I learned I could walk from the Marriott Rivercenter all the way through the Rivercenter shopping mall and out to the historic Menger Hotel and the fabulous Kings X toy soldier store and not get lost easier than I could remember from session to session where the bathrooms in the hotel were located. (Kudoes to the hotel, though, for turning all the bathrooms on the 3rd  floor into women’s bathrooms for our primarily female crowd).

2. I had trouble finding the elevators from hour to hour, too. They didn’t just get up and move on me, but I felt like they had. Luckily RWA had decorated all the elevator doors with book cover posters so they didn’t look like elevator shafts. All I had to do was look for those posters.

3. Romance Writers of America are an extremely friendly and helpful bunch. Even members of my own chapter who probably didn’t remember me were smart enough to read my name tag and give me a hug. That’s Texas for you.

4. You can get stung by a bee or wasp while waiting outside the Alamo on a Sunday morning even if you’re not standing under a tree. The itching has finally stopped. Only took 5 days. (See, I’ve used some more numbers).

Not seen at the RWA nationals. Nor any scantily clad male models.

Not seen at the RWA nationals. Nor any scantily clad male models.


Photos by Roxanne Rix.

You can find my books at