Bad Reviews - What Are...

Bad Reviews - What Are They Good For?

The other day a friend alerted me to a bad review of my book on Amazon. In a nanosecond my first thought was What? No Way. Not possible! Clearly that was my ego talking. My next thought was OMG, my husband’s ex-wife is up to her old tricks again, trying to terrorize me. Then I logged on to see it for myself. Here it is:


Now I know it’s not groundbreaking bullying, and definitely not the bunny boiler, aka husband’s ex-wife, but it did do something to me that I can’t quite name. I felt shock at first, then anger, hurt, disbelief — I was pissed off and gobsmacked. No writer wants to hear the book they have agonized over for years, sweated, cried and practically bled over, sacrificed a lot for, let alone dug impossibly, painfully deep to find the words to write, referred to as boring. I’ve been called a lot of things in my life, but boring isn’t one of them. I’ve also had a lot of feedback on my writing over the years, and that word never came up.

My first instinct was to hit the ‘report abuse’ tab — and I did. What an idiot! In my defence, I immediately assumed it was my stalker, which terrified me. I have a very expensive piece of paper to confirm she can’t even pretend to stalk me. And, as T. Gill is faceless, I imagined her. I wasn’t thinking straight. I should have done more research. As if a bad reviewer would have the guts to put a face to the name, even a fake one. I’m pretty sure the bunny boiler isn’t that stupid, but I could be wrong.

Boring. Please. I’m not that insecure about my writing. There are worse things I (or my writing) could be called. I mean, just look at Clementine Ford, now there’s a woman who needs thick skin.  And the Queen,Constance Hall, or the brave Ginger Gorman who went ‘Troll Hunting’ for her next book. The hunter has become the hunted, and it’s not even published yet. Now that’s putting yourself out there. These inspiring women, or the thought of them, helped me consciously let go of that one-star bad review. Subconsciously other things were brewing and I had a sudden attack of writer’s block, even though there were a dozen articles in my head ready to write. So I’ve been looking at a blank screen all week. I bought chocolate — the good stuff, Ferrero Rocher, not that 85% dark, bitter crap. I hadn’t bought real chocolate in months. And, I’ve had weird dreams this past week too. One night I was on stage doing a TED Talk type thing. I had my book in my hand, ready to read an extract, but no words came out. I stood there like a stunned mullet, alone, in front of hundreds of people and my voice failed me. Frightening! It’s a miracle I wasn’t naked. That’s what it felt like in my dream.

I don’t stress so much about writer’s block these days. I used to, but I know better now. It’s temporary. I can usually tell if it’s genuine too, or just me procrastinating, making excuses. This time it was real. I decided to use the downtime wisely and listen to some podcasts. I have hundreds saved in the pod app on my phone although I never listen to them, even though I have great intentions every time I add a new one. “I’ll listen to that tonight,” I tell myself. F**king Netflix.

So yesterday I see this Facebook post about a marketing podcast. It’s Marie Forleo interviewing Seth Godin about his new book ‘This Is Marketing’. Just what I need right about now, seeing as I’m so shit at it.

Something remarkable happened around the 16-minute mark, when the interview went slightly off-track. They started talking about critics, and it changed my whole perspective.


Harry Potter has more than 21,000 reviews on Amazon, and over 12% of them are one-star? Comments like: worst book I’ve ever read. As Seth points out “Said to the author who made more money as an author than anyone in history.”

Seth Godin hasn’t looked at his Amazon reviews for five years. He says, “I never met an author who has said ‘I read all my one-star reviews and now I’m a better author.’ All it does is seize you up and make you shut down. You have the right to say that, but I don’t have the obligation to read it. Thank you for taking the time, but I don’t want to know…


So I’m celebrating, and not just because my writer’s block is gone – thank you, Marie and Seth.  I am celebrating my very first bad review on Amazon and I say this to you, faceless, faithless Gill “Thank you for taking the time to buy my book and give it a go. Clearly it’s not for you… but your opinion is your own business.”

That’s what Seth would say, and that’s what my new and enlightened self says too. My old self might have responded differently — like “Hey, Gill, didn’t you watch Bambi when you were a kid? If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say nothin’ at all.” Or my passionate, unwise, much younger self: “Hey, Gill, F*** you, a***hole!”



Don’t let one-star haters ruin your day. It just someone’s opinion. Look on the bright side — that hater bought your book, and that equals sales. You win! Be like Seth Godin and JK Rowling and Clementine Ford and all the other courageous, inspirational authors in the world — write for your tribe. Your people matter.

Marcia Abboud

Life, And Other Nightmares

Life, And Other Nightmares

It’s Melbourne Cup Day 2018 as I write this, and in typical Melbourne style it’s dark, gloomy and raining, but it’s early, things will change by race time I’m sure. I used to hear all the time about the whole four seasons in one day ‘thing’, but it’s not until you actually live in Melbourne that you truly understand its meaning. A few days ago, it was 33 degrees, the next 16. The day after that I woke up sweating. By lunchtime I needed a jacket, and then it started raining, again. By the time dusk hit, the sky was so perfectly clear I could see a sliver of moon and twinkling stars, not easy to spot when you live amongst a fluorescent city that never sleeps. 4 seasons indeed.

I can’t help but liken my life to Melbourne’s weather lately. I’ve had days so high I’ve felt invincible, in a euphoric bubble of praise and achievement. Then days so low I wondered if jumping off the balcony would hurt much. I’d never do anything that dramatic of course, knowing my luck I’d break every bone in my body and live. What I’m grateful for at this point in my life, is my awareness. Bad days are temporary, this too shall pass. For every low there is a high, the cycle continues. No amount of shit that comes will ever keep me down, mind you, some days that’s hard to remember.

For example, one day, let’s just call it the 16th of October 2018, I woke from a night of restless sleep, instantly feeling a heavy ball of anxiety in the pit of my gut before my feet even touched the floor. Not a good way to start the day, just ask Dr Joe Dispenza. I’ve recently discovered him, well my husband has. Hubby sends me links telling me; “listen to this darling, it might be a good one for you today” or “you need to hear this sweetheart”. No. What I need is Zoloft because no amount of Dr Joe can take the edge off like a good mood stabilizer. Still, I do listen. Dr Joe makes absolute sense. I believe every word he says. I just have to make my mind believe it. My head hurts when I listen to his words, like I’m reading a legal text book. I tell you lawyers and barristers are great, how they remember all that jargon I’ll never know.

So, the night before I did exactly what Dr Joe said, and I listened to his YouTube video before bed to teach my brain to manifest my dreams. Had nightmares all night. Woke with the ball in my gut. That is 13:42 minutes I’ll never get back, shot to shit. Not his fault. I do believe Dr Joe can work miracles. I’m open to the wisdom. I live in hope that my brain will eventually be infiltrated. But it didn’t stand a chance on the 16th of October. I was due in court. I knew I had to face my nemeses, the person who, for the past six years, has challenged every fear I fear, every negative thought I’ve thought, and has stolen from me more peace than every shitty thing I’ve lived through in my past. Big call right, but I’m dead serious. I would have gladly chosen my own exile rather than turn up to court that day. I had to go though. It wasn’t just a matter of safety, it was a matter of principle. I’m done with turning a blind eye to those who chose to abuse me. You just have to read my book to know how far I’ve come. And the sequel, when I eventually write it, will challenge your beliefs.

The gut is a miraculous thing. It knows shit our head just can’t decipher. And my gut that morning had good reason for its churning, as it turned out. The day unfolded like a nightmare come to life. Just being in the same room with my husband’s ex-wife was like knowing Hannibal Lecter was sitting behind me. I took the stand for over an hour, shaking, dry mouth, brain on fire, and that wasn’t even the cross-examination. It was a new kind of hell. There is something about the emotional drain of divulging every, single, abusive piece of evidence over the past six years to a room full of strangers that leaves you split in ways you never thought possible. It was shattering. I can’t tell you the lies I had to sit through and listen to. It was a harrowing experience. But like I say, for every down there is an up. The ending was glorious! I now possess a piece of paper that protects me for five years against anymore abusive behaviour. Now I know it’s just a piece of paper but, the power it holds is positively enlightening! Not to mention was it does for my mindset.

The relief I felt as the ball in my gut dissipated was like shedding five kilos in one day. It was cause for celebration. By the time we got home I was in a state of nirvana, and it wasn’t just because I’d mixed alcohol with my meds. By the way, I would highly recommend that any day of the year.

Days later when I came back to earth, I thought about the journey of it all… I had spent so much time; hours, days, months, in fact a long part of the past six years, in complete frustration and disbelief. I’ve worried, feared, cursed, hated, cried and felt pain and hurt more often over the injustice of my ‘recent’ predicament than I have over all the other shit I’ve been through. I imagined I was so affected by it because none of it was my fault. Whereas in the past I believed all my shitty experiences were a consequence of my bad decisions. Everything was my fault then.

The fact is it’s not about who to blame, including myself, because shit will come, whether you think you’re good or bad, right or wrong, strong or weak, content, sad, happy, despite every good intention, every good deed, every generous dollar you give and share, shit comes! I used to rage at the text messages, the emails, filled with the most heinous lies that degraded or defamed me. My rage was never a public display, not my style, but my husband witnessed it. If you can’t show your ugly shit to your partner, then what good is that relationship? It would sometimes take me days to get over the verbal onslaught SHE bestowed on me. I’d do my best with the positive self-talk, the counselling sessions, all the things I had to do just to keep going, just to get on with it. It was exhausting. I’d question my actions at times, and why I even stayed in my marriage. Was it worth it? Yes, it is, and I wasn’t about to let her succeed in destroying my life. It took all my strength to NOT respond or retaliate, and I never did. I wanted to, but something in my gut always stopped me. Now I know why…

I marvel at my clever, intuitive gut. It paid off in the end. I thank God, now, at every single piece of abuse she ever sent, and the fact that I kept it all and not deleted it. Because without it I wouldn’t have the evidence I needed to prove who she really is, and I wouldn’t have that magical piece of paper that enables me to ‘retaliate’ should the need arise.

But most importantly, if none of that happened, I wouldn’t feel the gratefulness I feel, which I must say is pretty overwhelming at times. I survived yet again, my resilience is even stronger. I didn’t give up, even when I wanted to, even when my balcony looked inviting. I am grateful for the Victorian Legal System, justice does prevail. And just think, if none of that happened, if she was normal, I’d probably still be living in Perth being a step-mother to five boys 50% of the time… SHIT!

Marcia Abboud