Dealing With the Dreaded Negative Feedback

When I made the decision to write and podcast “GalaxyBillies”, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting myself into. Would people like the story? Would they hate it? Would I be able to pull it off at all?

But, since without risk there can be no reward, I decided to take a stab at it.

As we all do, I watched eagerly for any feedback I could get. And I watched… and then I watched some more. I eventually started to see some positive feedback trickle in and I was relieved when nothing bad was forthcoming.

So far, so good.

Unfortunately, the amount of feedback was almost zero which, to me, meant the story wasn’t really worth commenting on. And then, I saw my first 1-star rating of the story on iTunes.

Not the best start; the comment essentially said GalaxyBillies was a direct rip-off of Star Wars and a few other science fiction stories. That was a relatively easy comment to deal with. First, I laughed a little, because, there are nods to Star Wars in some of the episodes. The story is meant to be a comedy after all. I put some parody elements into it purposely. You may remember me mentioning in the past that I had Easter Eggs in every episode.

That told me the comment came from someone who was expecting a serious science fiction story and didn’t quite “Get” it. That I could live with.

The second comment was a 2-star one that said the characters fell flat after the first couple chapters. I won’t deny that I didn’t do as much development as I wanted. I won’t make any excuses either. So, I check that off to an astute reader. When I revise the story for the book version, I will spend some time fixing that problem. Thank you for the constructive criticism.

The comment I absolutely DON’T understand came last month on Podiobooks. Someone flamed the story, saying it was racist and disgusting. That comment hurt. A lot. Racism and prejudice are things I take very seriously, so being told I wrote a story that was blatantly racist bothered me.

It still does.

I have to keep reminding me that I didn’t write it to be racist. In fact, while the characters are caricatures of common stereotypes, I do write them with many redeeming qualities. And, by-the-way (spoiler alert here), they do save the day, so I can’t be trying too hard to make them out to be lower life forms.

Did I respond to any of the above negative feedback? No! I’ve seen too many instances where an author tried to respond and things ended badly. I’m not interested in going there. More to the point, in the last case especially, I don’t think the commenter even read the story. What good would responding to them do? They would not be convinced of my good intentions.

No, I thought about what was said, and dealt with it. I’m a big boy, so a little criticism, even unwarranted, won’t kill me. If anything, it helped to thicken my skin a little more for next time.



  1. Negative comments suck but are apart of the game. Sometimes you can learn from them, other times they are just one person’s opinion. I cringed when I read a reviewer comment that my story was painful to read. I try to learn something from all reviews and just keep moving forward. There’s no point in getting into a discussion about someone’s opinion.

  2. I was trying to figure out the best place to but a review on your site. I think this is as good a place as any.

    Every since I listened to his podcast Galaxy Billies, Mike Plested has been after me to write a review for it. It is not that I didn’t want to write a review, or that I didn’t like the podast or anything like that, the truth is that I hadn’t written a review because I stink at writing reviews. Not only am I not good a writing reviews, I know it and so I procrastinate about it. Well enough procrastinating. I have fired up the 486 Beowulf cluster and there are no excuses any more. Here is my review of Galaxy Billies, WARNING THERE WILL BE SPOILERS

    Galaxy Billies by Mike Plested is a wonderful romp through the, well um galaxy with the most unlikely galaxy explorers. The story is told in the style of an old radio drama, and because of that each episode feels new and fresh. The story has a great flow as the group of backwoods folk stumble into and out of trouble each week. What kind of trouble could six folks from the back woods of the Application mountains get into? Well lets just say that before it is all over the two largest intergalatic fleets of war ships and brown postal vans come head to head, in order to get it resolved. Along the way every possible sci/fi trope is is used abused and otherwise burned and pillaged in the name of a great story or cheap laugh.
    Mike Plested is nothing if not a professional, and the story telling and audio quality of this production proves that. While I am not a huge fan of modulating one voice for many characters I think Mike pulls this off well. The story telling style is very reminiscent of the original Douglas Adams Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and this story definitely benefits from that.

  3. Hi Mike. I am just beginning listening to GalaxyBillies.

    I usually gives 5 minutes to a new podcast : there are so much to listen too ! But so far you have passed the 5 minutes test. 😉 (make that 10 at the end of my comment writing, still listening 😉 good sign)

    I know feedback is a bitch to get. And sometimes it is bad feedback. I realize some great podcasters and writers get bad feedback for petty reasons as : I liked the story but it did not end like I would have liked…

    Ask Nathan Lowell, (you know, Parsec award winner and all) how many 1 star ratings he got for Owner’s Share because people didn’t want it to end that way…

    Or Abbie Hilton, just because her Cowry Catchers goes ways no one had gone before…

    So ratings are very subjective.,, and sometimes written by people who have too much time on their hands and so much amounts of venom they have to spat in a day.

    I still can’t say that’s what is happening to your story. I am not there yet. One thing I can promise is give it a fair try and a fair rating. 🙂

  4. Bonjour Lucie,

    Thank you so much for your comment and for giving GalaxyBillies a chance. I knew very well going in that it wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea. I expected to get some poor reviews. Where I have a problem is when the review is, as you said, venom-spewing. I always appreciate constructive criticism, but flaming something doesn’t help anyone (well, I suppose it might make the flamer feel better about themselves). Please let me know how far you were able to go and what your thoughts are on the story. I know it has some warts, but I hope to fix most of them when I begin preparing it for publication.

    Thank you again,


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