How to Handle Negative Reviews in Self-Publishing: A Graceful Guide for Indie Authors

How to handle negative reviews in self-publishing

How to Handle Negative Reviews in Self-Publishing

How to handle negative reviews in self-publishing. As an indie author, receiving a negative review can feel like a dagger to the heart. After all, you’ve put your blood, sweat, and tears into your work, and it can be tough to hear criticism. But remember, even the most celebrated authors like Stephen King and J.K. Rowling have had their fair share of negative reviews. So, how can you handle negative reviews in self-publishing? Let’s dive in.

Step 1: Embrace the Negativity

Yes, you read that right. Embrace the negativity. Negative reviews can be a goldmine of useful feedback. They can help you improve your writing and story-telling skills. Plus, a mix of positive and negative reviews make your book appear more authentic, as suggested by this study published in Marketing Science.

How to handle negative reviews in self-publishing
How to handle negative reviews in self-publishing

Step 2: Avoid Taking it Personally

In the realm of self-publishing, it’s important to distinguish between personal and professional criticism. The latter can help you grow as an author, while the former should not impact your morale or motivation. Remember, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and not everyone will enjoy your style or genre.

Step 3: Respond to Reviews with Grace

Responding to negative reviews can be a slippery slope. However, a well-crafted, respectful reply can show your commitment to your readers. Goodreads suggests thanking all reviewers for their time, even if their review wasn’t favorable. Just avoid getting into heated debates – it’s not a good look.

Step 4: Use Negative Feedback Constructively

Is there a recurring theme in the negative reviews? Do readers often point out problems with character development, plot holes, or pacing? Take this feedback and use it to improve your next piece of work. As author Neil Gaiman once said, “Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.”

How to handle negative reviews in self-publishing
How to handle negative reviews in self-publishing

Step 5: Seek Professional Feedback

If negative reviews are becoming a pattern, it might be worth seeking professional feedback. A professional editor or a writers’ workshop can provide objective feedback to help you improve your craft.

Step 6: Stay Motivated and Keep Writing

Lastly, don’t let negative reviews slow you down. Remember why you started writing in the first place and let that passion keep you going. As Winston Churchill famously said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

So there you have it. Negative reviews are not the end of the world; they are stepping stones on the path to becoming a better writer. Embrace them, learn from them, and let them guide you to your next masterpiece. Happy writing!


  1. Embracing Negative Reviews
  2. [Goodreads Author Program](
  3. Writers’ Workshops
  4. Neil Gaiman’s Writing Advice
  5. Winston Churchill’s Biography
  6. Further Reading and Resources
  7. After tackling negative reviews, it’s time to continue your self-publishing journey! Here are some resources to further your knowledge:
  8. Self-Publishing School: A comprehensive platform offering courses, coaching, and community support for self-published authors.
  9. Reedsy: A marketplace for top publishing professionals like editors, cover designers, and book marketers.
  10. Scribophile: An online writing group for serious writers, offering detailed and helpful critiques.
  11. Jane Friedman’s Blog: A treasure trove of writing and publishing advice from a 20-year veteran of the publishing industry.
  12. Writer’s Digest: A go-to site for writing tips, techniques, and updates on the publishing industry.
  13. Remember, everyone gets negative reviews at some point. It’s how you handle and learn from them that truly defines your journey as a self-published author. Now, get back to writing and show the world what you’ve got!
  14. Sources
  15. Self-Publishing School
  16. Reedsy
  17. Scribophile
  18. Jane Friedman’s Blog
  19. Writer’s Digest
How to handle negative reviews in self-publishing
How to handle negative reviews in self-publishing

Navigating the Self-Publishing Landscape

Navigating the world of self-publishing isn’t always straightforward, and negative reviews can sometimes feel like a setback. However, equipped with the right strategies and a resilient mindset, you can turn these challenges into opportunities for growth.

Community Engagement

In addition to using the resources above, consider engaging with the writing community, both online and offline. Join local writers’ clubs and online forums like Absolute Write, Writing Forums, and KBoards, where you can share your experiences and learn from others.

Writing Competitions and Awards

Another way to gain constructive feedback and recognition is through writing competitions. Platforms like Submittable and Comps and Calls provide lists of writing contests to consider.

Constant Learning and Improvement

Finally, continue learning and improving your craft. Writing is a journey, not a destination. Invest in writing books, attend writing workshops, and take online courses. Websites like MasterClass and Coursera offer numerous courses taught by accomplished authors.

Negative reviews can be tough to swallow, but with the right mindset and resources, you can use them to your advantage. Keep writing, keep improving, and remember: every great author was once in your shoes.


  1. Meetup – Local Writers’ Clubs
  2. Absolute Write
  3. Writing Forums
  4. KBoards
  5. Submittable – Writing Contests
  6. Comps and Calls – Writing Contests
  7. MasterClass
  8. Coursera – Creative Writing