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
Available For Pre-Order only on Amazon
Ursula wiped her sweaty palms down the front of her skirt as she walked into the hiring manager’s office for a third round of interviewing. She hoped that having made such progress would result in a job offer. She also hoped her palms hadn’t left smears of dampness on the fabric.
“Now, Ms. Cartwright, we’ll need a blood sample,” Mr. Argosie said, leaning forward and resting his elbows on the cluttered surface of his desk.
“A blood sample?” she echoed, questioning the odd request.
“Yes. We need to verify the absence of any illegal substances.”
“Surely, a urine test is sufficient?”
His pudgy fingers steepled under his clean shaven double chin. “Not at this level, Ms. Cartwright. We deal with highly sen-sitive material and a clear and lucid mind is necessary. Besides, a blood test will catch anything remaining in your system for a longer period of time than a urine test.”
Although reluctant, Ursula agreed because she could not refute his assertion with any confidence. With a small smile, Mr. Argosie called in a phlebotomist who entered and drew a vial of blood with brusque efficiency.
“We test for more than the usual half dozen illegal substances, Ms. Cartwright.”
... escape me.
I know marketing is crucial for authors to sell anything, much less make a living from their books. But once we get past "write a blog," I'm lost. I don't tweet or twitter or whatever the hell that is. I don't use Instagram, Snapchat, or whatever the hell they are. I participate on LinkedIn, but mainly for ghostwriting and editing work. I don't really use it to promote my books, although I do post "Brag time!" announcements when a book gets a particularly glowing review.
When we get to Facebook ads, pay per click, etc., it all goes right over my head. Or maybe through my head without stopping between the ears. I'm hopeless. I know marketing's important, but ... ugh.
I missed those early days of e-books by jumping on that bandwagon when the market hit saturation level and made clever marketing even more vitally important than ever. Sometimes I'm an idiot or just blind.
One problem I know I have is that old nonsense drilled into me--and many women my age and older--during youth: "Let your work speak for itself. Don't toot your own horn." That doesn't work in commerce today. With an increasing deluge of choices from which to select, the most effective marketing techniques are those that shout the loudest and distract potential customers from rival products.
I'm not kidding about the competition. First, let's set filters: romance genre, English, new within the last 30 days. As of today, Amazon posted over over 10,000 new books. Now, let's add two more filters: paranormal and Kindle. The 30-day total goes down to 935 new releases. My latest release, Triple Burn, goes live on April 15 and will compete with those 10,000-plus new releases. If I change the search parameter of "paranormal" to "science fiction," the odds improve: only 227 new titles were published in the last 30 days.
I read articles that emphasize the important of proper categorization. Triple Burn isn't really science fiction, at least not from a purist's standpoint. After all, it doesn't take place in the future, it's nothing like Star Trek, and Isaac Asimov would spin in his grave to have my story lumped in with his venerated works. What makes Triple Burn science fiction is that it's not paranormal (no witches, vampires, shape shifters, or other mythical beings) and it's not fantasy (no hint of magic or mythical creatures, although all romances are fantasies). It's contemporary, but not.
Using the correct keywords also helps, or so I'm told. With Triple Burn, I've made a real effort to employ that strategy of using keywords and phrases that will help readers searching for books like that find my book: alien, abduction, alpha male, reverse harem, romance. With the stiffly competitive nature of fiction, hitting the right search terms should at least bring the book up in more searches.
Book marketing requires good design. I posted some cover options that I designed. The floated like a lead balloon. So, I hired a cover designer. The experience working with that designer left a bit to be desired, but the cover she created is better than anything I could do. It helps to know the limits of one's skill: I'd clearly reached mine.
A good book description (a.k.a. "cover blurb") also helps. I enlisted help with that, too. I find it difficult to summarize my books, probably because I never start with a plot summary or outline. I get an idea and run with it, following where it leads me. Writing a cover blurb differs greatly from writing the book. It must hook potential readers, giving them some idea of the plot, but not revealing the whole of that plot. Since it's a romance, readers know it will have an HEA (a.k.a. "happily ever after"). That's a moot point. Romance readers don't read for the ending; they read for the journey. A well-crafted cover blurb entices readers to embark upon that journey.
Regardless, book sales are an uncertain thing. Before extending a contract to ghostwrite for someone, I discuss the project. Some clients are convinced that their ideas will translate into best selling books. In a way, that's good, because they need to believe in the worth of that idea in order to invest in hiring a professional writer. In other ways, that's not so good, because I feel honor-bound to warn them that the likelihood of them ever recouping their investment in royalties is slim to none: they'll have to engage in and/or pay a lot more in marketing to do that.
Marketing. It's a necessary evil.