Dear Aspiring Authors, This post is for you.
You see, when you are first starting out writing you are struck with this idea which you think is amazeballs!
You spend hundreds of hours thinking about this idea and hundreds more creating this imaginary world and it’s characters. Then, after slaving away for months or even years, you release this beast unto the world expecting it to be nothing less than a New York Times Best Seller.
You’ve edited your manuscript to perfection and you’ve enlisted dozens of beta readers and reviewers who have all raved about your story. You spent hundreds or thousands of dollars on a beautiful cover, amazing blurb, and done a ton of research before you set your masterpiece free.
The book goes live and you ride the waves of ecstasy as the sales and Amazon Ranking climb. You may throw a release party or you may invest in promotions; either way you’re looking at a decent first paycheck. You’re thinking “Wow, if this continues I’ll be able to quit my day job and take up writing full time within the month!”
And then your first review comes in.
You’re shocked because it’s not a raving 5 star review like all of those beta readers and reviewers said your book was. You become angry as you read this person’s scathing words about your baby. You gasp in shock as this person you don’t know tears your baby to shreds and throws away the pieces. They point out every flaw that was missed, every plot hole that slipped through the cracks, and then go on to insult your writing ability.
“How dare they!”
Then you become angry for a whole different reason. You send a nasty emails to your editor, betas, and reviewers berating them for missing things. You consider removing your book from sale, throwing the hard copy in the grill, and lighting it on fire. Finally, you consider giving up writing all together.
Right now your probably thinking “Wow, talk about melodramatic!”
The sad thing is, this has actually happened before. There have been author who completely gave up on their dream because of a couple bad reviews.
I’m here to tell you that you need bad reviews!
That’s right, I said it! You need bad reviews. Lift your jaw off the floor and listen up.
Bad reviews are essential to your career. A good, bad review will point out all of the flaws in your writing and tell you what the readers want more of. These types of reviews are critical to making your stories everything that the readers want.
You may have written the story for yourself but let’s be honest, the readers are the ones that are going to pay your bills. You need to give them what they want or you will be writing your next novel from a cardboard box under a bridge somewhere.
Every great book has at least one bad review!
Don’t believe me? Go onto amazon and look up the Harry Potter books. Rowling sold millions of copies or the book and millions more copies of the movies. Yet each one of the books in the series has multiple bad reviews.
Fifty Shades Series? Same! Yet those were turned into movies too.
Just because you get a bad review doesn’t mean that the book is bad, it just means that it wasn’t right for that reader.
My very first review was a 3 star and said the book was boring! (see image below) I took it in stride though and decided to use the criticism constructively and write a post for my writers group on Facebook Authors Alley : Where Authors Come to Network.
“So I got my first official amazon review today and I’m really happy with it 🙂 It was a 3 star review (before you ask why I would be happy with a 3 star review let me explain).
First, it’s a legitimate unbiased review of my book from someone I don’t know. Second 3 stars tells me that 1) the book was good enough to finish but 2) could use improvements. For my very first book, to me that is an excellent sign. It means that I’m doing well but have room to grow.
Next, they said the book didn’t have enough action and when there was action, it was short lived. This tells me that readers want more action and that they want the action scenes to be longer (totally doable I might add).
Then they said that a lot of things were left unexplained and that they will be reading the next book to see if they get explained. This tells me that the hook worked, that I need to answer some questions in book 2 (already planned to), and that I’ve pretty much already sold a book before it’s out.
I love these types of reviews, they tell you so much in so little words that help you become a better writer and make your writing more enticing.”
See what I did there?
I read the review, picked out the critical feedback, and turned it into information I can use for future books!
You can avoid getting bad reviews by targeting the specific audience your book would do well with. This is called Niche Targeting. Of course investing in a great editor, proofreader, and getting strangers to beta read your manuscript helps a lot but sometimes that’s not enough.
My advice to you?
Read each review but ignore the ones that are just trolling. If the review doesn’t contain anything useful then ignore it. The reviewer may have just been having a bad day or is just a negative person. If you are getting lots of 1 star reviews then step back and really take a good look at your book.
Use the bad reviews as a writers guide.
Take note of each of the issues that are pointed out and fix your manuscript. You can republish it with the new changes, unfortunately you won’t be able to remove those bad reviews unless you take the original down and republish the book as a second edition.
All in all, just enjoy the process! You can’t please everyone! If you are happy with the book then ignore the haters and write the next book. Maybe your first book wasn’t for everyone but maybe your next one will be!
What is the worst review you’ve gotten? Do you have any advice for new authors about dealing with bad reviews?
Post your responses in the comments below!