Dealing with bad reviews

I’ve been very fortunate that most people ( or those at least who have contacted me and commented pubically ) have enjoyed reading my book, Can’t Swim Can’t Ride Can’t Run. It’s brilliant when someone says how much they enjoyed it or how much it has inspired them, that was something I never expected at all when I wrote it. I spent hours worrying that it was crap, Em and my friends like Andy H, Dave, Viking, Min and Loon who read completed chapters were probably sick of me worrying about it. So it was a huge relief when it was well recieved and reviews were favourable.

In terms of sales it has far surpassed my wildest dreams, and although I still don’t know an exact sales figure ( I will this month when I get my first royalties statement ) it’s not in the hundreds as I’d hoped for but the thousands. It’s been the No.1 triathlon book for most of 2011 and in the top 10 sports biographies in the UK charts. All things I’m really chuffed about.


Books are subjective, what one person loves another one will hate. Look at the Da Vinci Code, one of the top selling books of all time, it’s like marmite, people thinks it’s wonderful or it turns their stomachs. So it’s inevitable really that some people just won’t like what I’ve written.

At one stage it would have deeply bothered me that someone I’ve never actually met would not like my story. “Cliched” “Disapointing” and “predictable” probably aren’t the worst words that could have been used, and so far there is only one 2 star review, I’m not niave enough to think that others won’t be addded. As I said at one time it would have bothered me, now it doesn’t, life is way too short to worry about them. I guess the situation with my mam being ill over Christmas taught me not to sweat the little things.

And personally I never buy a book based on reviews left by others, I buy a book because it sounds interesting and I want to read it. I may read the reviews afterwards, just to see what others thought. I’m sure that there are many out there that actually do base their purchases solely on reviews, and hey if that works for them great.

I’ll always read the reviews that are posted on Amazon, I won’t reply to reviews on Amazon, kind of an unwritten author rule, so I’ve been told. I will however always reply to people that contact me directly by whatever medium. Being an author has given me many wonderful opportunities that I never thought I’d experience and one of them is meeting/talking to some truely inspiring people. It’s great.

So hey I’ve got some bad reviews, I’m not pissed off, I am honestly sorry that they didn’t enjoy my book and I do wish that whatever they read next they enjoy but I’m not losing sleep over it. It’s not a popularity contest.


24 responses to “Dealing with bad reviews

  1. If they didn’t enjoy the book, they probably can’t read. Or swim. Or bike. Or run. You’re a quadruple threat 🙂

  2. I’ve just finished it and thought it was great. Like you say ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’.
    As for inspirational, I didn’t even contemplate long triathlons until I read your book, now my ultimate goal has gone from Olympic to Ironman. Its all your fault.

    Yours trainingly,

  3. +1 @chris

    I picked up my first proper bike yesterday (at the end of a training run) – first triatholons will be this year, and ultimate goal is ironman…… again as chris already said, its all your fault

  4. ha ha I get the blame for most things, being married I’m used to it 😉

    Good luck to you both with the training and the eventual Ironman.

    Ohh and new bike, exciting stuff, what did you get?

  5. You can’t please everybody. I always give positive reviews more weight than negative ones, simply because, I think, people forget to voice their opinion about good experiences.
    Anyway you now have one more 5 star review. Which, I might add, I had not even thought about writing, even though I loved the book.

  6. My father gave me a copy of your book for my 60th birthday last month. I started training for my first triathlon last June and complete the Olympic distance triathlon in Pacific Grove California in September. I am about a third of the way through the book and am thoroughly enjoying it. I find something I identify with on almost every page. I laughed out loud when I got to the page where you bought your Continental Gator Skins. After I got flats on my first two rides, I bought the exact same brand and model tires to replace the tires on my brand new Trek.

    • Thanks Tim, glad you are enjoying the book and massive congratulations on doing your first triathlon 🙂
      Yeah the conti gatorskins are bombproof, they take me ages to change though – most races would be over by the time I change one. Need to practice more.

  7. I suppose it really depends on what you want for your book in the first place. If it is there as a self serving, self absorbed, self promoting, money making vventure, then I suppose any author gets what they deserve.
    If however, you are looking to enthuse, motivate, humour and inspire others to get off their backsides and give a challenge beyond their wildest imagination a go, then I believe you have succeeded beyond your wildest imagination. And have succeed in ways that you probably don’t even realise.
    Just remember that people are at different places in their lives, some will be open to what you write, others will be in a different place and will not relate to your words. That is their problem not yours. Given time they may be in a different ‘listening’ position, reread and get something totally different our of your books.
    Keep on motivating!!

    • I think you are right – I never wrote it for the money, in fact I didn’t actually realise I’d get paid when initial negotions got underway, I was just made up someone wanted to publish my story. I was so innocent ha ha
      Thanks so much for your kind comments, I hoped it would entertain, I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would inspire anyone….still get goosebumps when someone tells me it inspired them.

  8. Jennyfromtheblock

    Love the book, love your story and love the fact that I’m going to start doing triathlons again after a long lay-off. Hell…I might even sign up for one of those ironmen(women) things! Thanks for being an inspiration.

    • Thanks Jenny – glad you loved it. So cool to hear that. Good luck with the comeback, hope it goes well. Go on…you know you want to….”Jenny, you are an Ironman!”….has a certain ring to it 😉

  9. just reading your book mate and its coming across great! ignore the moaners and concentrate on the nice folks there are in the world x

  10. I found it incredibly easy to read and related to loads you said. I have to admit I am addicted to books like the one you have written so I feel I’m well judged to give an opinion. It was a great read and will now add a positive review to amazon just so you can sleep even better!

  11. kevin halverson-fry

    Believe it or not I’m in the middle of reading your book for the SECOND TIME!.
    I love it. Please,please,please hurry up & write the sequel.
    p.s It really is all your fault Holgs.
    p.p.s FIVE STARS

    • Wow – cool that you are reading it again. Hope you enjoy it as much the second time round.
      I move house this friday, once that is done and dusted I’ll be writing the sequel which will take the reader through to the end of the 2012 season and my attempt at 2 ironman races 5 weeks apart. I’m contracted to finish writing by September with a January 2013 publication date 😉
      Busy Year!

  12. Our writing exposes our inner selves in a way that nothing else does, so it’s understandable that criticism feels as if it is criticism of our very core. I wince when someone points out a typo in my blog, and I don’t pour over every post as I would if I was writing a book. In writing your story, you’ve done what so many wish they could do- inspire others. Not an easy thing to do. Congrats on your book- I will check it out!

    • Beth – all very true, it’s a very personal story, so criticism about me being injured and making mistakes is a bit hurtful – hey guys it happened, sorry it’s cliched but that’s life and triathlon sometimes. Comments from people like you and other readers make the whole process worthwhile – I’m just pleased people actually took a chance and read my book.
      Hope you enjoy it.

  13. I often think of you and your book when I am out riding – mostly because every time I head out to train for my 3rd tri, it rains and rains and rains! It always seemed to be raining in your book so long after I have put the book down, passed it onto mates and continued on…. it continues to live on. Looking forward to the next one.
    Footnote – I am finally swimming without having a panic attack! Wonders never stop occuring!! lol

    • ha ha yeah I did get wet a lot,one of the joys of living in the north west of england!! I have on occassion been out for a ride and stayed dry. Not often.
      Well done on the swimming, great progress!!

  14. Brill book, I bought it last year along with triathlons for dummies and yours is a good read, really inspirational. I took part in my first sprint tri last may and have a duathon and two tri’s booked for this year, looking forward to keeping up the fitness. Thanks again Heather

    • Hi Heather,
      Thanks for your comment.
      I’m so glad that you enjoyed my book 😀
      Good luck for your events this season – have fun and race well.

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