Coping with Bad Reviews

In the run-up to Christmas, author and Strictly Writing family member, Sam Tonge, talks turkey!

We all have our own way of dealing with bad reviews – and in my experience, whilst they may sting, it does get easier over time to cope. They are, after all, part of our job as an author, and it would be unreasonable – arrogant even – to expect that everyone is going to enjoy your work. We can all think of a bestselling movie or story that all our friends love, but we just don’t “get”. Equally, search out your favourite novel on Amazon – whilst you adored it you can be certain a number of people won’t have.

My bestselling debut novel, Doubting Abbey, came out last November. Whilst overall it sold well, and was even shortlisted recently for the Festival of Romantic Fiction Best E-book award, it received its fair share of poor reviews. And one thing I quickly learnt was to differentiate between the constructive bad reviews and those which in tone, and choice of words, seemed hellbent on upsetting the author. The latter, where possible, are to be ignored!

However the constructive 1* and 2* reviews, I read with interest. It is fascinating to see how someone else views your work and to find out which aspects – for them – didn’t work. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I took on board what a couple of them said, when writing Doubting Abbey’s sequel, From Paris with Love. I always appreciate the time people take to review my books and if they didn’t enjoy them, reading an explanation of why not can be really useful. After all, they’ve invested money in my writing - it’s only right they should have a platform to explain why they were left dissatisfied

Of course, it can be confusing – something one reviewer hates will be loved by another. For Doubting Abbey, one person would dislike the way my main character, Gemma, said “Amazin’” a lot, whilst another would head their review “Amazin’ book”! But if a certain criticism comes up more than once, I give it a lot of thought. In my opinion, the most important thing is not to take it personally – to most readers authors are faceless beings, and I don’t believe they think about them when critically dismantling a novel.

You know what they say – a bad review is better than none and I hope readers find lots to like in my Christmas novel Mistletoe Mansion, which features a celebrity wannabe, famous golfing wife, lots of cupcakes and a supposed ghost! But if not, I just need to remember that plenty of Marmite books have had great success. In other words, not everyone has to love your work for it to do well.


Samantha Tonge lives in Cheshire with her lovely family, and two cats who think they are dogs. When not writing, she spends her days cycling and willing cakes to rise. She has sold over 80 short stories to women’s magazines. Her bestselling debut novel, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award in 2014. Its fun standalone sequel is From Paris with Love. Mistletoe Mansion stars a new set of characters and is for fans of cupcakes and Christmas!

From Paris with Love

Kimmy Jones has three loves: cupcakes, gossip magazines and dreaming of getting fit just by owning celeb workouts.

When Kimmy’s Sensible Boyfriend told her he didn’t approve of her longing for the high life or her dream of starting a cupcake company, Kimmy thought she could compromise – after all, she did return those five-inch Paris Hilton heels! But asking her to trade in cake-making for a job sorting potatoes is a step too far.

So, newly single - and newly homeless – Kimmy needs a dusting of Christmas luck. And, masquerading as a professional house sitter, her new temporary home is the stunning Mistletoe Mansion. Soon she’s best buds with glamorous next door golf WAG Melissa, and orders are pouring in for her fabulous Merry Berry cupcakes! The only thorn in her side is handsome handyman Luke, a distraction she definitely doesn’t need. And talking of distractions, something very odd is going on at night…

Kimmy is finally living the life she’s always wanted. But will her glimpse into the glittering lifestyle of the rich and famous be as glamorous as she’s always imagined…?

Doubting abbey Blog: