Bad Reviews… #Writing #Author #Advice

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 multiple 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

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

4 thoughts on “Bad Reviews… #Writing #Author #Advice

  1. I agree. Paying for reviews is never a good idea… let’s go deeper into why. Someone who is paid to do a review is usually forced by the means of money to read something they are not interested in. They also are taught to seek out issues because they likely do other things like editing and proofreading.
    I used to do beta readings and I used to be an agent’s assistant (for a very short time). In both of these cases, I was sent books I was not interested in. The agent would pick some god awful boring young adult books and that made me bitter because there are so many wonderful young adult books out there. But I know she had her reasons. Maybe a publisher was looking for something specific that month.
    Whether I was being paid to beta read or otherwise it truly became a job, no matter how much I said I LOVED doing it. There was always a percentage of books I had to force myself to read.

    So again, put an ad on a few various beta reading sites and let those EXCITED to read your book read it for free and then post a review. They are more likely to appreciate the free book that they go in wanting anyways.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As someone who does unsolicited reviews of stories (the site’s goal is to make me a better storyteller) I tend to look at stories that match my interest, though sometimes I’m surprised by a book or comic I didn’t think I’d like. I also try to be objective beyond my biased. “It’s good but not really what interests me.” Not every reviewer is like that. Some are looking for something to trash, either for comedy or to just rag on someone’s work. Others are being hired to review something they have no interest in or no history with and can not give a proper review to the target audience of the work being reviewed. This is something that editors and publishers need to stop doing.

    Also note that even the jerks may occasionally offer a bit of advice, even if they didn’t intend to. So don’t throw it out if it actually does more than call you a garbage writer or destroy your work. They may not be the target audience either but they may have a point on the basics. What matters is what your target audience thinks. I have seen the review or your book so I can’t judge that particular review, but was there a point to consider or was it a case of not knowing what they’re talking about. The words may sound meaner than intended but when looking at a review you have to put your ego away (both positive and negative or one bad review will hurt more than the good reviews and I don’t want to see you give up your dream) and judge the critic just as they’re judging you.

    And for the love of God please don’t take popshots at the reviewer or have your fanbase do the same? There’s a small group of creators doing that these days and it’s not fair to them, especially if the reviewer was at least trying to be fair to the work being reviewed. We’d appreciate that.

    Like

    • StCyril says:

      All good advice. Honestly though, it’s really tough to get reviews from people. My books have been selling really well, but they don’t leave reviews… like at all!

      Like

      • I’ve been struggling with getting interaction with my readers, even with a poll just last week to choose a book to review next. All anyone focuses on with reviewing are TV, movies, and video games. Books, comics, and even music doesn’t seem to have nearly enough attention. (Actually there’s an article in that if I can come up with a good theory why.)

        Like

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