“The artist doesn’t have time to listen to the critics. The ones who want to be writers read the reviews, the ones who want to write don’t have the time to read reviews.”
- William Faulkner
As an author you know that getting plenty of reviews for your book is important. They create social proof and help push readers into making a buy decision. But in this open marketplace, you also need to deal with something that is nearly as bad as indifference – negative reviews.
Over the years, we’ve asked a few best selling BookBuzzr authors about how they handle negative reviews on Amazon. Each of these authors has broken into an Amazon top 10 list and with scores of reviews for their books. Here are excerpts from their interviews for an important question that affects all writers:
“How do you handle negative reviews?”
“Eat Chocolate”- Steena Holmes, Author of ‘Finding Emma’
“I eat chocolate. Negative reviews aren’t the easiest things to read – but they can be helpful. Sure, there are those who like to leave negative reviews because they feel they have the control and want to do that. Then there are readers who really didn’t enjoy the story and have something honest to say. It’s all good. I know that there are people who read Finding Emma and walk away from the story knowing that wasn’t the book for them. That’s okay. Even the best books out there – To Kill a Mockingbird or even the Harry Potter series – all have really bad reviews.”
“Have a Thick Skin” – Judy Powell, Author of ‘Hot Summer’
When you decide to put your work out to the world you have to be prepared for both positive and negative reviews. You have to have really thick skin. I must warn authors that when you give your book away in the free promotion you will find several people downloading because it is free without even reading the product description or checking out the sample to see what the book is about. Then, once they start reading, they find that this is not a book that appeals to them. This sometimes results in a negative review and sometimes comments that really sting. However, the key is to take both the good and the bad in stride. I read all the reviews, take all the comments into consideration and may even act on some of them. The beauty of e-books is that they’re dynamic – they can be changed at any time. If I receive a comment that makes sense I go back and edit the manuscript to improve it for future readers. However, I never respond to reviews, whether good or bad. What I decided to do, though, is to put a note in the back of my book asking the reader to like my book or do a review if he/she enjoyed the read. I’ve had so many people e-mail me directly to say they love my book but it is the hardest thing to get them to say the same thing on Amazon.
“Offer a Refund” – Angela White, Author of ‘The Survivors’
Ah, reviews and reviewers. You love them and loath them. Each one is critical of your most cherished possession; yourself. Living up to someone else’s expectations can be daunting to souls that come unprepared… As a writer, you let that piece be seen and all feedback, from ANY source, is supposed to be taken with a grain of salt and open ears.
Personally, I can’t ignore them, even the bad ones. I pour over their comments on edit Mondays and touch up, fix, or delete as I see fit. It bothers me to feel like I’ve stole their money with a product that wasn’t good. Yes, even for the tiny royalty I get from listing them at $.99. To be able to call myself a bestselling (or any kind of) author, I need the readers to be satisfied.
At the same time, I’ve just stopped responding to some of them. Things have gotten rough in the Amazon forums and it’s branched into reviews. They’ve grown very mean and starting a “riot” with careless words will not move my books into that coveted #1 position.
Vikram Narayan is the founder of BookBuzzr Book Marketing Technologies. (Twitter – @bookbuzzr ) Vikram is a graduate from Carnegie Mellon University. Prior to starting BookBuzzr, Vikram founded another software company that has been successfully serving clients from all over the world since 2001. When he is not dreaming up ways to help authors accelerate their earnings and book sales, Vikram spends his time playing the guitar, practicing Aikido and spending time with his family.