How to Handle Negative Criticism by Kellie Larsen Murphy

NBTM_TourBanner_StayOfExecution copy

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Kellie Larsen Murphy will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Please see our review of this book HERE.

How to Handle Negative Criticism

“Such flat-footed writing, dull vocabulary, lack of wit and style. Characters underdeveloped and pretty much interchangeable—just mouthpieces for the plot really.” (1)

Ouch. That’s not a favorable book review no matter how you slice it. Okay, so at least the reviewer implies there is a plot but still… These reviews aren’t much better:

“It’s not a horrible book. But it is not very clever and it is not very engaging.” (2)

“This was a huge disappointment. Plot was lacking, as was any sort of inspiration. I don’t know who wrote this book. Just isn’t good.” (3)

“The worst part was the writing. The dialog was riddled with speech which would not have been appropriate for the time or the class of the people speaking.” (4)

“Terribly written, rambling and thrown together. Absurd plot and entanglements. What a waste of my time.” (5)

Every one of the above reviews is bad and to make matters worse, they are all REAL one-star reviews posted on Amazon. Even more amazing is that each of those reviews is for books that currently sit on the New York Times Best Seller List! Wow! What’s my point? Simply put, it doesn’t matter how well-loved a book is, it will still have bad reviews. In recent weeks, THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN has sat at the top or near the top of many bestsellers’ lists. It has earned more than 20,000 reviews on Amazon! Frankly, that number is just mind-blowing to me, but equally mind-blowing is realizing that more than 2,000 of those reviews are one or two-stars! Even so, I don’t think Paula Hawkins is too concerned. She has more reviews than most authors get throughout their entire career. Still, in spite of her success, there are readers who took the time to post negative reviews. So, what does that mean? To me, it means people are reading her book and at the end of the day, that’s what every author wants.

Yes, it stinks for an author when they get a bad review…or two…or dozens. So, how should the author handle it? Easy. LET IT GO. Yes, let it go—even if the review criticizes the writing but is filled with misspellings. Even if the reviewer clearly didn’t finish the book. Even if the review started with “I don’t like romances” and the book is science fiction. LET IT GO! Why? Because authors are supposed to be professional. Every reader (and I do mean every single one of them) is entitled to their opinion. As authors, we don’t have to agree or like it, but responding only makes the author appear thin-skinned and petty. And let’s be honest, that is a recipe for losing sales.

While it’s important to avoid responding to those negative reviews (take ten breaths, walk away, anything that works!), it is equally important to pay attention to them. If the number of one and two star reviews creeps over 25% of total reviews, the author may have a problem. Is there a common theme in those reviews? Is it something fixable? If the writer is an independent author, then they have the opportunity to swallow their pride and release a revised edition. If not, then the author should keep those reviews in the back of their mind when writing the next book. While it’s impossible to please every reader, aiming for the majority should be every author’s goal.
Negative reviews are no fun. They are deflating and discouraging, but trust me, LET IT GO and eventually the sting will fade. Even the classic, Maurice Sendak’s WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, got this review, “This book suckith!”

Reviews quoted above are for the following bestsellers:
(1) THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins
(2) LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE by Jessica Knoll
(3) BEACH TOWN by Mary Kay Andrews
(4) AT THE WATER’S EDGE by Sara Gruen
(5) THE BONE TREE (PENN CAGE) by Greg Iles

MediaKit_BookCover_StayOfExecutionLittle Springs was just a small college town, the kind of town where everyone knew everyone and violent crime was nonexistent–until a series of rapes and murders at the college. After an outbreak of fear and hysteria, only the arrest and conviction of Leo Spradlin, the “Co-Ed Killer,” could end the terror.

Years later, Spradlin is suddenly cleared based on unshakable DNA evidence, and no one is more surprised than Detective Mike Cancini. As new questions surround the identity of the true “Co-Ed Killer,” Cancini struggles to accept his role in the conviction of an innocent man. Suspicions mount when Spradlin’s release coincides with a fresh wave of rapes and murders at the college, eerily reminiscent of the original crimes. Cancini is drawn back to Little Springs, caught in a race against time to uncover the identity of the latest “Co-Ed Killer” before the next girl dies…

A tension-filled psychological mystery, STAY OF EXECUTION is also a novel about loyalty, deceit, and the darker side of truth.

Enjoy an excerpt:

The boy looked up at the tall trees, their branches thick and twisted, blocking the warmth from the sun. He pulled the strings of his knapsack tight and walked faster. Feet moving quickly over the slippery ground cover, he tripped, falling forward toward the round trunk of a large oak. “Stupid root. Stupid trees.” Picking himself up, he wiped his hands on his jeans, the brown, wet moss leaving marks on the worn pants. It was only then that he noticed what had caused his fall. Not a root. A leg. He stepped closer to see a bare leg, a woman’s leg, covered in dirt and leaves as though someone had tried to hide her. The boy’s eyes widened, and he screamed. Turning, he ran from the woods toward the first house he could find, still screaming.

About the Author:MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_StayOfExecutionKellie Larsen Murphy is the author of A Guilty Mind and Stay of Execution, the first two books in the Detective Cancini Mystery series. She has written for several mid-Atlantic magazines and resides in Richmond, Virginia, with her husband, four children, and two very large, very hairy dogs.

Website | Twitter

Buy the book at Amazon, digital or print, or Barnes and Noble, digital or print.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. thank you for hosting

  2. Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?

  3. Sandy S says:

    Great guest post. Congratulations on the new release. Sounds interesting !!

  4. Thanks for hosting me today!

  5. Mai, I think the cover is very important. Just recently, a friend changed the cover to one of her books (a very good book!) and saw an uptick in sales. The cover is the FIRST thing a reader sees! Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Thanks, Sandy. Glad you stopped by and don’t forget to enter he giveaway!

  7. Rita Wray says:

    I enjoyed the post, thank you.

  8. Rita, thanks for visiting. Have a great day!

  9. Eva Millien says:

    Very interesting post, thanks for sharing it and the great sounding book

  10. Betty W says:

    Terrific excerpt~the book sounds like a real page turner! The cover and title are awesome! Thank you for the great post and contest!

  11. Patrick Siu says:

    I have enjoyed learning about the book. Thanks for sharing it.

  12. Great post!

Speak Your Mind