One simple fact any writer has to face is that you cannot please all people all the time. Often the very reasons one person loves your work is the reason another hates it. The important thing is to provoke reactions.
That said, no matter how thick skinned writers claim to be, or how much bravado they put across, bad reviews can be seriously discouraging. How then do I deal with this?
Fortunately, I have not yet been in a position where any of my novels are universally or near universally reviled. I can imagine such an occurrence would be deeply disheartening. For the most part, reaction to my work has been overwhelmingly positive. Such a good/bad ratio means it is very easy to dismiss bad reviews with a “can’t please everyone” shrug.
Yet some bad reviews have actually proved instructive, either to confirm that I succeeded in my goals (eg, when reviewing a horror story if someone says “I hated this book because it was too scary”), or to legitimately highlight areas I can improve.
Ultimately a review is simply an opinion, but it is very gratifying when a large amount of opinion is positive. My novel Children of the Folded Valley has almost entirely five and four star reviews on Amazon, and clearly the majority of readers have really embraced the novel.
But if you click on the link below, you will note that despite such apparent success, there are still a couple of bad reviews.
So how do I handle bad reviews? Depending on what they are saying and why, I either am discouraged or encouraged. I either disregard them, or see (sometimes through gritted teeth) where valid points have been made. They can hurt, but they can also be vitally important.
In short, they should not automatically be dismissed.