A couple of years or so ago, I received an absolutely brutal review of Russian Gold, the second book in my Russian Love mafia romance series. I do mean brutal. And I did everything wrong in response to that review. Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20. So, authors who receive a negative review should know the following:
Another book of mine, The Barbary Lion, also garnered nasty reviews. One reviewer complained about the length of time the heroine spent avoiding capture and return to the hero's clutches: 21 years. To her, it seemed excessive. In that paranormal romance, the main characters are immortal, so I didn't think 21 years much more than a drop in the proverbial bucket. Another reviewer complained of the hero's brutality and the heroine's realistic reaction, while a different reviewer appreciated my decision not to romanticize the cruelty or soften the realistic elements.
Different strokes, different perceptions. I have ghostwritten fiction with plots that left me cold. But I'm one person with one opinion. What I dislike, others find amazing and wonderful. Those ghostwritten books, overall, receive good reviews. I'd like to think it's because I wrote those dreadful plots well, but perhaps the reasons favor my clients' ideas over the execution. I'll never know.
Negative reviews sting. They hurt. Every single one feels like a personal attack, no matter how objective. As an author, I know this. As a reader, I follow my own advice when leaving a negative review. After all, if I catch three grammatical errors in the opening sentence (and, yes, I have), then the book will certainly receive a negative review as well as a DNF (did not finish); however, that review will focus upon the book's actual problems. I hope the author will learn from it to improve his or her next manuscript.
Because that's what I try to do.