Sunday, 1 July 2012

Tip of the week: how to react to negative reviews

Yes, I know, it's been done to death and I thought that everyone got the message after the Howett incident, but I seem to be wrong. I recently read a blog post giving some advice that had me fuming. Massively. The self-published author, who had obviously been spoiled by positive reviews (I assume by his friends), started to receive negative ones saying the story is unbelievable, characters not likeable, etc. So what did he do? He thought to himself that writing an article about the 'how to' would be a great idea. Yes, I agree, it is, but only if the 'how to' contains the following: be professional about it and take it on the chin.

Of course he didn't do that. No. He advised to look up your favourite authors' books and feel comforted when reading all the 1-star-reviews. Whereas it doesn't do any harm, it's pointless, because it doesn't make your book better, does it?
I won't repeat all the points, but stress the two that made me want to slap him. Hard. Very hard.
1.) He advised to get your mates to downvote the negative reviews and
2.) to ask as many friends as possible, who are confident to write a 5-star-review and, yes, you guessed it, get them to post them.
I honestly couldn't believe my eyes. Not only is this particularly immature, but also highly frowned upon, and that rightly so.

Needless to say that it didn't take long until he got his wrists slapped by fellow authors and readers who weren't too impressed with such advice. Serious self-published authors have enough difficulties without those who pull such stunts. People like that want to play professional in the professional league, but are still in kindergarten.
Now, I'm not so much concerned about people being vocal about it, they'll be put in their places in no time, but I'm worried about those who just go ahead and do it. Fair play to this particular author, though, he has amended that post. If he's also altered his way of thinking, I don't know.

I'd keep it simple: if you receive a negative review, rise above it. Not everyone will love or like your book. If you receive more or them, all pointing out the same issue, stop huffing and puffing and instead get cracking, they may be onto something.
The only response a reviewer deserves is: Thank you for taking the time to read my book.

Stop messing with the system just because you can do it. You want to be taken seriously? Then act like it!

Rant over!


  1. Or if the reviewer makes sense, fix the problem...

    1. Ah, sod this all, better to just get the Bazuka...

      Every time I say that I have to think of the film Kick Ass. Man, I haven't laughed so hard in ages.

    2. None of this would be a problem if readers read the sample. Yes, there are terrible books out there but if readers read the generous sample provided by Amazon there would be no problem.

      Under this system the bad books should fall and the good books would rise - if people would only read the sample!

      There is also the fall back of a no-questions-asked money back within 7 days.

    3. I have to disagree here. The sample may give you an overview regarding the writing, if the grammar and punctuation is up to scratch, but sadly, it won't give you an idea how the author handles plot development. From my experience, the first 20 to 30% can be really good and then it goes downhill.

      But I'm not really sure what it has to do with the reaction to reviews. Every author will receive some negative reviews, even if there's nothing wrong with the book. Some people simply hate what they're reading. As an author you just have to realise that.

  2. This is why I NEVER consider a book/film/music on a review. If I am interested enough in checking a project out,I'll do it based on how much it attracts me. When I read on Twitter about all the "5 star reviews on DIY books",I instantly dismiss it.It reminds me of the old "Battle of the Bands" concept....the band that wins,rarely wins for talent but for how many fans they draw and how the bar did. Just because you get a 5 star,doesn't mean you're a decent writer.

    1. That depends on who writes the review.

      Plus, if you have plenty of fans, you certainly have hit a nerve, no? If you have talent, you will automatically end up with plenty of 5-star reviews, because people will see it. :-)