This blog was featured on 06/10/2019
Seeing the Positive in Negative Reviews
Written by
Maria Murnane
June 2019
Written by
Maria Murnane
June 2019

Your book is your baby, and when someone doesn’t like your baby, that hurts. But if you can you get past the initial dismay of I can’t believe she didn’t like it!”there’s something valuable to be learned from critical reviews: If there’s a pattern to the criticism, pay attention to it.

There’s always going to be someone out there who absolutely hates your book. That person probably hates everything in the world, so go ahead and ignore him. But if you see the same issue—or issues—with your writing noted in multiple reviews, there is probably something of substance there. 

For instance, in an early draft of my first novel, several beta readers told me that everyone in the story was too nice. At first I didn’t understand why that was a problem, but then I learned that stories need conflict. That’s obvious to me now, but it wasn’t back then.

So here it is again: If there’s a pattern to the criticism, pay attention to it.

A caveat … while it’s good to take legitimate criticism seriously, it’s also important to realize that you can’t please everyone. I’ve read reviews of my novels where the things that most people loved the most are the same things that a few people hated the most. For example, in one of my novels the main character develops a line of witty/snarky/supportive greeting cards for female friends to send to each other. While hundreds of readers have told me how much they love the cards, I’ve read a handful of reviews excoriating the cards for being stupid. I guess I didn’t please those readers.

Another example of what most of my readers love the most but some of my readers hate the most is my dialogue. Many fans have commented favorably on how realistic they find it. However, I once read a three-star review that complained about how unrealistic my dialogue is. Again, you can’t please everyone.

There’s no getting around the sting of a negative review, but if you can separate the outliers from constructive criticism, your writing will benefit. 


Maria Murnane writes bestselling novels about life, love and friendship. Have questions? You can find her at

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