Every author gets a bad review. Somewhere out there is someone who simply does not like what you write or feels the need to take you down. It happens. Get over it. Suck it up.
Y'all know that's easier said than done.
If you're the type to check reviews on your books and you come across the inevitable negative review, do not respond. Do not engage. Step back and examine the review for validity.
Responding to a negative review usually does nothing good, especially if that reviewer is spoiling for a fight. Do not feed the trolls.
Some negative reviews lack validity. You find the technical incompetent who combines a 1-star review with glowing compliments on the book. Sometimes you find a disgruntled buyer who purchased a book, but received the wrong product or only partial delivery of the product. That's not the author's fault. Sometimes you find an offended reviewer who expected one thing and got another. That happens pretty frequently in romance when a reader expected something sweet and clean and got a steamy read.
Disregard those negative reviews. They don't help.
If you receive negative reviews complaining that those readers expected a full story and got a cliffhanger--and many will automatically assign a 1-star review to such books--then be sure to alert potential readers in the book description that your book ends on a cliffhanger. If you're transparent about the cliffhanger, then those who don't like cliffhangers will avoid your book. Sure, that diverts book sales, but it also avoids negative reviews.
Valid reviews, however, merit further examination. Consider what the reviewer disliked about your book. Did the reviewer complain about poor grammar or other copy errors? If so, then hire a competent editor. Did the reviewer gripe about plot holes, inconsistencies, and other flaws? If so, then hire a competent editor. Did the reviewer simply not like what happened in the story? If so, then perhaps consider not reusing that kind of plot in future books.
Here's an example. One book I published received overall negative reviews: The Barbary Lion. Readers did not like the raw, harsh quality of the story: it wasn't sufficiently romanticized. I admit to being surprised, because abduction romances are popular, really popular. The lesson learned was that readers don't want too much realism in that type of romance. Of the few reviews this book received, one reviewer got it:
Did I change the story? No. However, I did make a note of what readers prefer and check myself when my storytelling becomes a little too raw or harsh.
In the end, though, I write to please myself. While reviews may influence what I write, they don't determine it. Most reviews can be taken with a grain of salt; the negative ones may have good medicine that a bit of sweetener in the form of a lesson learned may make palatable.
#HollyBargo #HenHousePublishing @HollyBargoBooks
4/12/2019 12:23:12 pm
You've got the right attitude toward reviews: "Step back and examine the review for validity." A writer who can't do that will be so battered by the inevitable negative reviews that she might just give up--and what a shame that would be.
You make a lot of good points. I agree about being transparent in the book description, though I've found it doesn't always help. I've seen too many reviews that say that a clearly labeled erotic romance has too much sex in it. Personally, I wouldn't change my writing style or plots in future books because reviewers don't like what happened in the story, but that's just me. I can understand why other writers might choose to. If a review mentions that blatant errors were distracting to the story, then that's a solid reason to make changes and take greater care with future books.
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