This post is intended for authors only. It's a pep talk about criticism and reviews. Just like reviews aren't written for the writers, this post isn't written for readers.
Now that that's out of the way, if you're an author, come on in!
How to Read Your Reviews
The best advice is to not read reviews at all. Period. There's nothing you can change about your book once it's in print (unless you have the opportunity to make adjustments on future editions). The worst thing you can do? Get addicted to the dopamine hit of great reviews because there will be a crash. Do yourself a favor, don't take that first hit.
Ok. That's an impossible task. You're going to sneak a peek at what people are saying. Here are some things to remember.
Some Perspective on Reviews
The rating systems are misleading. On Goodreads, a three star review is positive, but on Amazon it's considered "critical." So, depending on who's reviewing your book and where, the star rating will mean something different.
Bottom Line: What may seem like a critical review to you, might be a positive review in the eyes of the reviewer. Yeah, it's a bad system and we probably need a PSA to explain this to the world.
But What if it's Really Bad?
Let's face it, a bad review can feel a lot like cyberbullying. Did someone say they couldn't finish your book? Or, it was full of tropes and clichés? Don't be discouraged. Think about how you'd see the review as a potential reader instead of as the author. You'll find that many of these reviews wouldn't stop you from clicking "buy now" because the reviewer kind of sucks.
When you remove your feelings from the bad reviews, many will make you laugh out loud (especially when it's obvious the reviewer didn't pass third grade spelling).
Then, there are the WTF reviews. The "I usually prefer books on the Civil War and this romance book didn't have any gunfire." Why people feel the need to review a book from a genre they don't "usually read," or believe that it will add value to the community, I have no idea. I don't like the taste of organ meat, but I'm not going to buy liver and then review it on Amazon. But that's just like my opinion, man.
Trust Your Fans
Social communities tend to self-moderate. Ignore the urge to defend yourself; someone within the community will probably do that for you.
Here's how it will go down (according the The Big Lebowski Rules):
Your fans will look at these reviewers "like they're a child who wanders into the middle of a movie..."
If you're lucky, there will be a "STFU, Donny" thrown in for good measure.
So, what do you do? Follow five simple steps.
Five Steps to Surviving a Critical Review
Don't engage. Commenting on reviews (both good and bad) is unprofessional.
Remind yourself that bad reviews aren't personal.
Be thankful for the bad reviews because they legitimize your rating. Readers don't trust five star books.
Before you click away, read a few good reviews to remind yourself that people really do like your book.
And if you're really feeling low? Write a bad review of the bad review. Read it to a friend and delete it.