Everybody gets rotten reviews. It’s part of the territory. Your first one or two star is a coming of age, your movement from beginner to seasoned veteran. I’m not going to lecture you on survival techniques. The world and his wife has done that already. I’m usually a subscriber to the DO NOT READ THEM school. Let’s face it, there’s nothing useful you can do about it, anyway. For lots of very good reasons.
But there’s one teensy bit of advice I will share. How many of you remember John Locke and his best-selling ‘how-to’ book, How I sold 1 million ebooks in 5 months? That was in 2011 – or at least, that’s when I bought mine. It turned out that he bought quite a lot of his success by buying reviews and there was a huge scandal. But setting that aside, his advice on bad reviews was well worth reading. As I recall, he said that if the review is not coming from your target audience, shrug and move on. If you have a fan base, and those people like your work, that’s really all that matters.
Take it to heart, writers. Snuggle up in bed with that little teddy of truth hugged close.
Reviews. It’s one of the buzz words in the author world – especially if you’re self published or small press. Many articles have been written about how to handle negative reviews, how to get reviews, how to write reviews and whether reviews actually matter.
One thing that constantly comes up, in comments or in the article itself, is the sparkling, five star review. We all love those, of course, but so often potential readers say they ignore them. Why? Because:
- they may have been paid for – Amazon’s rotten core (well worth reading, that article)
- they may have been swaps with another author, therefore not entirely truthful – but Amazon has tried to limit those cases by removing some author reviews from books
- they may have been written by your mum, dad, husband, cat. No, not the cat. The dog.
Sure, all of these things have happened. We’ve all read glowing reviews which didn’t exactly align with the book for which it was written. I recall one book which boasted half a dozen reviews along the lines of “wonderful book”. And then there was the other review, which pointed out the grammar problems evident in the first few pages, and even in the book’s title. Something like The Smith’s. This might mean the glowing reviews were the result of some of the issues mentioned above. I checked. The grammar issues were certainly there. As was the error in the title.
But then, maybe that’s uncharitable. A lot of people leave five star reviews because (er) they loved the book. I certainly have. Who’s to say the people leaving a review on The Smith’s didn’t love the book? Not everyone is a grammar Nazi. We do a lot of chest-thumping about one star reviews, how everybody is entitled to an opinion and after all, that’s all a review is. The same is true of five star reviews, especially if they’re considered and thoughtful.
So I like my five star reviews. I haven’t paid for them, haven’t touted for them, haven’t swapped for them. I love the fact that people enjoy my writing enough to say so.
What do you think?