How to Handle Negative Criticism by B.J. Scott

2_14 VBT Highland Quest Banner copy
This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will award gifts of swag (including a canvas tote bag, a mouse pad, a pen, book thong, bookmark, can cooler, magnet, and key chain — US/Canada only) to randomly drawn commenters from this tour and her Virtual Book Tour, and a grand prize of one $50 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter from this tour and her Super Book Blast. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Additionally, for this stop only, and in honor of Valentine’s Day, the author will give away an eBook copy of “Highland Legacy” to one lucky commenter, as well as a can cozy and autographed bookmark (US only)! Make sure you leave a comment and let her know you stopped by!

How to handle negative criticism.
The minute you submit your manuscript/book to anyone, you are opening the door to comments and opinions. It may come from an agent, an editor, your critique partners or your reader. Some of the comments will be flattering, and complimentary, others you might find derogatory, negative, and in some cased uncalled for. The more people exposed to our work, the higher the risk we will come across someone who does not like or understand the story, or the characters, or even the entire book. How you choose to handle the input you get will determine how you progress as a writer.

To say a low rating or negative review of your work is something you can just shake off without a second thought would be a lie. If you have ever written a book, crafted something with your hands or mind, a lot of heart goes into your work. We become so involved with our characters and story that we find it hard to believe someone might not share our love for the finished product.

But that also makes it easy for us to miss important flaws in our story or style. What we see as wonderful, a reader might not. We need to step outside the emotion and take a serious look at our work. Be brutally honest. Even if we still can’t see why the person did not like our book, we need to be open to the possibility they might have a valid point. A point you need to pay attention to and perhaps try to rectify in your next novel. Using negative comments can be an author’s best ally. We should all be striving to write a better book each time we pick up a pen or sit at the keyboard.

Not everyone is going to like or understand everything they read. I have read a lot of reviews of books lately and notice there seems to be a trend in those who love a book and those who don’t. I do believe that some people are determined to find fault, especially if a book has gotten some good reviews. It appears in many reviews to be an innate need to take the author down a notch. Negative reviewers are often more vocal than those who love a book. They will sometimes leave in depth spoilers, which do in fact spoil the book for others who might read their ramblings. I have even read some lately that state the reviewer has not read the book, but has based their review on what they assume the book is about or give it stars before they have read it based on the blurb or cover.

In cases like that, I do feel the reviewer needs to be taken lightly, but there is often one thing that sticks out in the book that people mention often, and sometimes there is a good point made that the author never saw or thought about. These can be helpful in writing your next book. I take everything a person says about my book and put it into groups. Things the majority liked and things people did not. Whether I agree or not is not the point. My job is a writer is to reach the readers and provide them with several hours of enjoyment. If even one reader did not get this from my book, I have to ask why, what am I not seeing, what could I have done to explain it better.

Aside from a poor editing job, too much dialect, or style problems, I have noticed, at least with Historical Romance, repetitive plots or storylines tend to be a common complaint…too predictable, same old story, nothing surprising. The genre is hot, especially for Regency and Scottish historicals. Because of that the market has been flooded over the last couple of years and finding a new idea is getting more difficult.

Another common comment in historicals is the Hero or Heroine is not likeable or the interaction between then or lack there of is not what the reader wants or expected. This partly comes from a lack of understanding on the part of the reader as to how thing actually were in the particular era. But often the author had not explained the reasons for their behavior well enough. Many readers tend to put modern values on the relationship, expect the hero to be handsome and flawless, the heroine, lovely, smart and defiant. But in a true historical, the dynamic between the couple would be very different from today. In medieval times for example, men did not view women in the same light they do now. For the most part it was common to use them as bartering tools. Women accepted their lot in life, because they did not know any different and were very unlikely to go against tradition. A hero might adore his lady, but they may be separated for long periods of time, act or react in a way, we don’t understand or even like, but if we actually lived in the period, we might understand their motive better. We cheer on the plucky heroine, yet we get frustrated if she does not conform to modern behavior.

All valid points and one the writer must address. Try to make your book unique. Find new storylines that stray from the norm. Not easy, but sometimes enough is enough. Explain the way men and women interacted so that the reader might empathize with the aloof hero torn between duty and war, and not think him a pompous ass. As for the heroine who had decided to break with tradition and stand up for herself… and without them there would be no story, just remember, it is not going to be the same as it would be in a contemporary novel. The onus is on the author to explain it without making it a boring history lesson. If you get a rejection from an editor or a negative review, use it to your advantage. Above all remember the greatest writers have negative reviews, rejection letters and criticism. You are in good company and it makes you a real writer.

About the Author:With a passion for historical romance, history in general, and anything Celtic, B.J. always has an exciting work in progress. Each story offers a blend of romance, adventure, suspense, and, where appropriate, a dab of comic relief. Carefully researched historical facts are woven into each manuscript, providing a backdrop from which steamy romance, gripping plots, and vivid characters—dashing alpha heroes and resourceful, beguiling heroines you can’t help but admire—spring to life. A member of RWA, World Romance Writers, Celtic Hearts Romance Writers, and Savvy Authors, B.J. also writes contemporary, paranormal, time travel, and romantic suspense.

C.S. Lewis first captivated B. J.’s imagination in the fourth grade, and her desire to write sprang from there. Following a career in nursing and child and youth work, B.J. married her knight-in-shining-armor, and he whisked her away to his castle by the sea. In reality, they share their century-old home in a small Canadian town on the shore of Lake Erie with three dogs and a cat. When she is not working at her childcare job, on her small business, or writing, you will find her reading, camping, or antique hunting.

2_14 Cover_HighlandQuest


No longer content in the shadows of his older brothers and on a quest to find his destiny, Bryce Fraser’s chosen path is fraught with danger, passion, and decisions. Can his unspoken love for spirited, beguiling Fallon be triumphant in a time of war and uncertainty, or will they both fall prey to the devious plans of a traitorous laird from a rival clan?


  1. Thank you for hosting today.

  2. Thanks for hosting me on your site today and giving me the opportunity to share the second book of my series HIGHLAND QUEST, with your visitors. This is book 2 of the series, but each was written as a standalone so can be read in any order.


    Since I am a Canadian author 😉


  3. I don’t think I would take criticism very well, my feelings would be hurt. I will read reviews but would not run out to buy a book or not buy a book because of a review. I have read negative reviews about books I have loved.

    • Bad reviews are never easy, no matter hard you try to tell yourself it is only one person’s opinion, but as a writer, you must be prepared to get both negative and positive reviews. You will never please everyone so if you worry about doing so, you will drive yourself crazy. Some negative reviews I have read are very cruel and for some reason a person with something bad to say is usually more verbal about it. There can be any number of reasons they did not like the book, even just having a bad day. I saw one review that was given a two star because the person was upset to find out the anthology they purchased was not one long story, but two short ones. It is very well explained in the book details and info that it was two stories set a couple hundred years apart, but somehow she missed that. Rather than accept she made a mistake, she blamed the book. I have read reviews that totally trash a book or make statement that are not true, and you must wonder if the person really read the book. When you see you are number fifteen of thirty two reviews they posted that day, it makes you wonder. Regardless of why the negative review is left, you need to keep things in perspective. If what they say makes sense, use it to your advantage.

      It is great that you do not judge a book based on a negative or positive review. As what one person hates another may love and visa versa. That is why we have a wonderful selection of genres.

  4. I am hoping to be able to read this book very soon. I really love the sound of it.

    • So nice to see you again. I do appreciate you following my tour and hope you do get to read my books.
      The tour ends tomorrow so will miss those who have popped in every day to say hello

  5. Mom Jane and Rita!

    Since we only had two commenters, you will both win a copy of Highland Legacy and swag. I will contact you for your snail mail address and give you instructions as to how to download the book 😉 we do need your email addys or contact me at

    Hope you had a wonderful Valentine day!

  6. Mary Preston says:

    I think that if you can take away a positive from a negative review then you are a winner.


    • Hi Mary

      You have to be willing to take the good with the bad and when it comes to reviews hope that the readers will give your book a chance no matter what. As we said before, what one person likes another may hate and in historicals especially, it has a lot to do with reader expectations and how well they understand the era. If they expect modern romance in a historic setting, they may be in for a disappointment. Which then reflects on the author regardless if it is warrented or not.

  7. Good tips.


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