Bad Reviews…

Hi James,
We connected on Twitter and I got your email address from your website. You had made a comment on Twitter to feel free to email for advice.
I’m new to self-publishing and released my first book in January.  I had worked on the manuscript off and on for a couple of years before getting serious about publishing.  I did the best I could on proofing, but couldn’t afford to hire a professional proofreader.  I did, however, hire a professional to convert the file for Amazon ebook & Create Space print version.  Before I read some information from some other successful writers, I had solicited a couple of reviews from a company that does reviews.  My book has 3 prior positive reviews with a 3 1/2 star rating on Amazon.
This company I went with has review agents working for them and the one who did my book review was from Canada and it didn’t show up on Amazon U.S.   The only way I knew it had even been done was purely by accident. I happened to sign in to Goodreads where I had my book listed and saw I had a review with a score of 1, but there were no comments.  Because I was wondering why I had received the low score, I emailed her and she replied with the link to the review on Amazon. ca.
How does an author come to grips with a bad review?  I know I need to put this behind me and move on, but the reviewer is also supposed to be an editor and I was told by the person who runs the company that I should hire her to fix what is wrong instead of complaining about the low review.  Was I out of line by requesting that she remove her review? I based the request according to what the reviewer told me, “I usually don’t even post a review if I can’t give it at least 3 stars.”  I was accused in an email from the person who runs the company as “you’ve been somewhat harassing one of our readers.”
I was devastated.   I know I need to get more thick skinned, but is this normal conduct for a company or reviewer?   I just need another professional authors opinion.   Thanks for letting me vent and I’m looking forward to your reply.
bizwings


Hi J.E.
Hope all is well with you. Thank you for the email! So… honestly I had a similar experience on my first published work. It was given a 1 star review on Goodreads with no reason or comments. I had to go digging a little further for why they gave it 1 star. I don’t know why goodreads pulls in the stars without the review like that, it’s not really fair, but it happens. Truth be told, I avoid that site, I’ve never really been a huge fan.
Personally, I don’t like the idea of hiring someone to write reviews for you. I tend to ask people who read the book to leave reviews and they tend to be pretty good about it. Anyway, were you out of line? Pardon my bluntness… but yes. Hiring reviewers, you always run the risk of getting reviews that you’re not going to like… and paying for them. You’re not paying them to be ‘yessirs’ you’re paying them for their opinions. Plain and simple.
Nothing bites worse than having something you worked hard on, and dedicated a lot of time and money to, getting a bad review. However, you can’t take it personally, because the more you write, the more it’s going to happen. In a world where literally everyone has an opinion and no two of them are ever exactly alike, bad reviews are par for the course. Look at Rotten Tomatoes when it comes to movies. How many movies have a 100% fresh review? How many? Heck even timeless classics like the Wizard of Oz have bad reviews on them (Well… 1% for the Wizard of Oz and I would love to meet the critic with the cast-iron balls who gave that bad review.)
The best way to look at these reviews is to figure out what people didn’t like about your book. If they leave reviews like ‘I don’t like this character, they just didn’t strike me as someone I can relate to.’ Well that’s fine. Someone else will relate to that character. Again, it’s opinion. However then you’re going to get reviews like ‘I found the plot to be a little stale or unbelievable because (insert reason).’
To me, this is constructive criticism. This is something I can take and build off of for my next book. This is the kind of thing you’ll need to get used to, especially if you’re ever going to get people to edit and critique your book. I tell the people who edit mine to hold nothing back. I WANT them to be as brutal as possible and they… hesitantly give me exactly what I want. Why do I want such abuse? Because the more blunt they are, the more I can fix before I publish. The same can be said for people leaving reviews after that fact.
Are their going to be mean reviewers out there? Absolutely, but they are usually in the minority. Most people aren’t being mean, they’re simply sharing their opinion of something they either like or didn’t like so others, including the author know what to look out for. As long as you look at the criticism as constructive, you’ll be a lot happier.
Anyway, I hope this helps! Please feel free to email me if you need further help!
Thanks,
Jim

Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

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5 thoughts on “Bad Reviews…

  1. abooknation says:

    I completely agree with your response! As a reviewer I feel like we a have a right to point out what we may not have enjoyed about the work and be completely honest with our readers. BUT I also believe we have a responsibility to try and be as constructive with our feedback as we can. It really makes my day when an author say they have found my review helpful, even sometimes if my ratings are low! Great question and response and I appreciate the fact that you addressed it! 😊

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Chris AM says:

    Very good advice. I wonder if anyone should ever attempt throwing something out there without professional editing first.

    Like

    • StCyril says:

      I would say yes. Most indie authors are not going to be able to afford $.25-$3/word when we have novels that are 50k-200k words. The costs would be so astronomical that, when added with the book cover and every other cost, most self and indie publishers would pretty much not even bother getting their work out there.
      The answer to such astronomical costs is student and peer editing. If you can, join an editing circle where you read over each other’s work and do whatever corrections are needed.
      Students will also often do the same work for around $300, and they are usually just as good.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I’ve been wondering about these paid reviews. Once in a while I see a new author on Amazon with 2k reviews and really good authors with 50-100 reviews. I go suspicious about it. In that case I deliberately read all the 1 star reviews, and I find some truth to them. But the volume of other paid reviews make it look like a 4.5 star book. I even was wondering about the ethical side of hiring reviewers… But now that you told us that the laid reviewers are under no obligation to give 5 stars, I feel a bit better about it. Not sure if I’d use this service though…. That being said, I think shit happens, and we learn from mistakes. Good luck to J.E., hopefully his business gets better. Maybe there is a reason to pull the book out, make a new cover, edit it again, give it to a few more beta readers??? Nobody walks on water, we all need to learn…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve been posting a Sci Fi series on my blog lately. I stated upfront that I am writing this thing one episode at a time, these are first-ish drafts…. Nobody said anything bad, althilough I asked for an honest feedback. Now that the 1st season is finished, I pulled it off the site and editing for consistency and such. That being said, I’m still not sure if those first drafts will not haunt me in the future :)) but I still think I will go ahead and do the same thing with the next season.

    Like

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