Any independent author will tell you how important reviews are.
Word of mouth is great – we love it when you tell your friends and family that you enjoyed our books, but an on-line review is forever.
One written review is worth a hundred verbal recommendations, because many people will forget the part of the conversation you had at the party about the last book you read – but once you put that praise in writing on a site like Amazon it’ll be there long after the party is forgotten.
So it’s no surprise that independent authors often (shamelessly) beg people for reviews.
I, personally, have written a few blog posts asking people to write reviews, (here’s one) even offering to name reviewers in my books…often to no avail.
Of course, there is a downside to getting reviews…
The Bad Review
Whether you’ve written one poem or 20 novels…there will be somebody out there who finds fault with it.
The first critical assessment of your work is tough to swallow, but before long you learn to roll with it. If you don’t learn to, you’ll waste a lot of time stressing about it. Hopefully, you won’t have to deal with it often, but, you will have to deal with it at some point, as sure as the world is round (it is round, you know).
As much as I want everybody to enjoy my work, I’m realistic enough to understand that it just ain’t gonna happen. So, whenever one of my books gets panned by a self-anointed expert, I take it in stride. If the reviewer was kind enough to give specific reasons for not liking the book (poor character development, lack of structure, etc.) I make it a point to work on those areas in my next book. If it’s simply a general bashing (This guy sucks and I hated this book) I laugh and walk away…
…most of the time.
Generally, it’s not a good idea to respond to negative criticism of your work. It usually has no result other than increasing your stress level and giving the critic the satisfaction of knowing they got to you.
But sometimes I just can’t resist.
Allow me to share an example…
My novel Backseat to Justice recently got its first ‘one-star review’. Prior to that it had 14 five-star reviews, 11 four-star, and 3 three-star (see for yourself here).
Not bad, if I do say so myself.
So, given the fact that only 1 out of 29 reviews was a total bashing, I thought a response was in order.
The reviewer, code named Dog Mom, had essentially only one complaint. She downloaded a free copy of the book on her kindle, and for some reason—known only to the internet gods—the book’s formatting was completely missing from the download. It came through on her device as, in her words, “one long paragraph.” She suggested I take a writing class to learn the proper way to write a story.
Now, I’m not saying that I wouldn’t benefit from a writing class…but I do have to ask myself one question;
Of all the other 28 reviews, why had nobody else had this problem?
I have the book on my kindle – I immediately checked the formatting…no problems at all.
So, I am forced to conclude that her download must have gotten tangled in the interweb, thus resulting in the poor layout.
Regardless, I still felt she deserved a reply for taking the time to point out my blatant inadequacies.
After reading her comments, I decided to check out her other reviews. Lo and behold, about 4 out of every 5 reviews she has written have been one-star tear-downs. This made me chuckle…she’s a serial trasher! (check it out…it’s kind of funny)
I decided to have some fun with Dog Mom so I responded thusly;
“I wonder if it’s possible that there was an issue with your download since you are the only person who has ever mentioned this problem. That being said – I will begin looking into some writing classes. Can you recommend the one you took before you wrote all of your novels?”
Sometimes I can be a real jerk!
As always thank you for reading (and reviewing!)