Thursday, August 27, 2015

What to do About a Bad Review

Recently, a fellow author was dismayed to see she had gotten a dismal review on Amazon. I’m talking a one star review. The kind of review that went beyond a simple dislike of the book and crossed the line into downright mean spirited.

Of course, the author was devastated by this review. Needing someone to vent to, she reached out to fellow authors. She wanted to know what she could and should do about this review. The truth is there is absolutely nothing you can do to change a bad review. You can cry and complain. You can question your talent and curse the reviewer.

You could get into an argument with the reviewer, but you shouldn’t. Reviewers are entitled to their opinions. Not all of them are going to like your book and some of them are going to make sure everyone knows how much they dislike it. Do they have to be so hurtful about it? No, and they shouldn’t. It serves no constructive purpose. As much as we don’t like what was said or the way it was said, it’s best to let it go. Don’t bother engaging in a pissing contest with the reviewer because you end up looking petty in the end.

Once we get over the initial shock of the bad review, we need to find a way to set the hurt aside. Try to ignore the barbs and pot shots and really look at what the reviewer was saying. Is it possible that underneath all of that bluster, the reviewer has given us something we can do to improve our work? Sometimes the answer is no. Sometimes though, when we distance ourselves emotionally the answer is yes. If we can accept that help, we can improve our craft and decrease the chances for bad reviews in the future.

We can also look closely at the rest of our reviews. If a majority of the reviews are positive then try not to get hung up on the one bad review. Even as I say this, I know this advice is difficult to follow. There can be one hundred good reviews and one bad one and I’ll get down about that bad one before I even realize how many good ones there are. That is not a good practice. All writers need to learn to let go. Maybe the reader didn’t connect with the book. Maybe they had a different expectation of it. Maybe, and this happens, the reader is just an ass who takes pleasure in tearing others down.

Reviews are one of those double edged swords for writers. We look forward to them and want them. We also dread the possibility the book will not be well received or that it will be poorly reviewed. Either way, I think we have a responsibility to take the bad with the good. Sure, we love those glowing reviews, but when we made our work available for public consumption, we opened ourselves up to the possibility that not all of the responses would be positive.

So, what can you do about a bad review? Whatever you want really, but at the end of the day there is one thing to keep in mind. No matter what you do, it isn’t going away!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Jumping on the Bandwagon

It’s official. I’m doing it. I’m jumping on the Amazon bandwagon.

I’ve been a professional writer for almost ten years now and things sure have changed. When I first started out, everything was still being printed and authors who self-published faced the stigma of being considered failures. Self-publishing presses were even called vanity publishers. Now, e-books are the norm and independent, or indie, authors can do just as well as their mainstream counterparts.

It’s no secret that I was one of those people that detested the thought of electronic books and readers. I just couldn’t fathom the idea of not having an actual book. Besides the fact that I enjoyed feeling and holding books, I argued that e-books weren’t something an author could sign. Funny since I didn’t have any signed author copies at the time I was arguing this.

I have since come to realize the value of the e-book. As an indie author, it’s more cost effective to release my books electronically. I can then pass this savings on to the readers with lower price points. That in turn can lead to more sales.

For the last year, my books have been exclusively offered in electronic format and sales have been steady. Not booming but nothing to be ashamed of. Still, I think I can do better and I think the problem has been my choice of venue. The publishing vehicle I’ve used partners with Amazon, but Amazon will only carry your book once you sell a certain amount of copies. Given that I currently have a small following, I don’t have the numbers to make these books available on Amazon. With the Kindle being the most popular e-reader that means I lose Kindle sales when readers can’t find it on Amazon.

In the last few weeks, I’ve been kicking around the idea of releasing my next book series through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program. It seems to work similarly to what I’m using now, but it comes with the added bonus of having my book listed on and backed by Amazon. Not to say Amazon will endorse my book, but the fact that it will be available there is an endorsement in and of itself.

I’m hoping that by using KDP, I can attract more readers. If that happens, maybe just maybe I can finally reach my goal of becoming a best-selling author. I know I’m dreaming big, but believe me when I say it’s a hope and dream but not an expectation. The practical part of me is not letting me get caught up in the idea that using KDP is going to make me an instant best seller, but it sure can’t hurt.

Using KDP may also net me more reviews than I get now. More reviews are one of the careful what you wish for, double edged sword things. I’ve read some downright mean reviews on Amazon, but that’s a story for another time.

Right now, the important thing to know is that my next book, Taking a Gamble, will be available on Amazon. I find it a little ironic that my book is entitled Taking a Gamble when that’s exactly what I’ll be doing when I release exclusively through KDP. Let’s hope my instincts are right and jumping on the Amazon bandwagon is a gamble that pays off.