Book reviews. Just the mention can make a writer break out into a sweat. Will the readers love my book, or will they hate it? Getting a positive review fills your heart with joy, and yes, pride. It lets you know all the long and lonely hours of plugging away on your computer have paid off. Your faith in yourself as a writer is vindicated. All the naysayers for your foolish idea of writing a book are silenced. Life is good. You are now ready to begin writing your second book… and then the unthinkable happens.
Nothing can cause a writer to question their storytelling skills quicker than a negative review. When I received my first 1-Star review and then several more, I was convinced my career as a writer was over. I fell into a deep depression and refused to write anything again. I mean, why should I? I believed I could tell a good story by my positive reviews, but now I’m told my writing is crap. How can the same story be seen so differently?
When I was about to give up, my husband told me to go to Amazon and read the negative reviews left for some famous authors. I remember thinking, famous authors surely don’t get the nasty 1-Star reviews like I did. Heck, they’re famous. People love their work. That’s why they’re famous, right? Boy, was I wrong.
After reading some mean and downright nasty 1-Star reviews left for such greats as Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and others, I came to realize that you just cannot please everyone. I also realized to use those bad reviews as a growing tool and a way to improve my writing. I had several on my debut book that tore me up over editing issues. Yes, I take the blame for that. I did a stupid thing at the time I published the book on Amazon. But others complained about certain things in the story itself. I took their complaints and tried to use them to improve my future writing.
So, basically, my advice to the new writer is not to panic when, not if, but when you get a negative review. Don’t think your career as a writer is over. Use it as a growing tool and realize even the greats get their fair share of them.
Being a writer is a growing experience. Your skills grow every time you put your words on paper or your computer. Also, you will find over time that your belief in yourself will grow. You’ll be more willing to take chances, and you’ll soon realize you were meant to be a writer.
So, are reviews important? You, dang right, they are. Now, I’m not saying they’re important to feed our egos. No, they’re important to help get our books seen by more readers. You see, once your book hits 50 reviews on Amazon, they will start promoting it to their readers. Now, I’m not saying it has to be 50 good reviews. I’m saying a total of 50 reviews of a combination of any star rating. So, don’t worry about a handful of bad reviews hurting you with readers. In fact, I’ve had readers tell me how they don’t trust a book that has nothing but 5-Star reviews. They say the reviews are probably just by family and friends of the author. I’ve even had readers tell me they decided to download my debut book because they wanted to see if it was as bad as some reviewers stated. I guess if that works, then good for me. LOL
Getting readers to leave a review is difficult, but when they do, it’s a gift that keeps on giving. Thank your readers, and then do your best to provide them with more books for them to enjoy.
I hope this post helps clear any questions about how to handle a bad review. So, get busy writing your next EXCITING book!