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II. Publishing & Marketing Tips > Negative Reviews - how bad is bad?

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message 1: by Trynda (new)

Trynda E. Adair (trynda_e_adair) | 17 comments Last night i recieved the first review i've ever gotten in my life. It was a 2 stars out of 5. They said it was because it was short, even if it was a short story and they didnt like the cliffhanger ending.

I don't know how bad this is, should i be worried no one is going to see my story because of this low rating? Am i overreacting about one bad review?


message 2: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl Landmark (clandmark) | 242 comments Trynda, my advice would be to not get too upset with this one review. Reading is very subjective and not everyone is going to feel the same way about your writing. The next review might very well be a 5-star one from a reader who loves short stories and cliffhangers; you just never know how readers will react to your books.

You sound like a first-time writer, am I correct? If you are, please don't let this discourage you from doing what you love to do. You might get a few more reviews that are less than stellar, but try to take them in stride and learn from any constructive criticism that readers might give you to improve your writing. Stephen King, Nora Roberts, James Patterson, etc. are all bestselling authors, but even they don't get 5-star reviews every time.


message 3: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl Landmark (clandmark) | 242 comments Jaq wrote: "Try gfetting hate reviews from people who don't even read the book. Mine on Amazon UK have 3 of these, and one of them here on Goodreads.

Saying that a short story is short as a reason to not like..."


Jaq, that is just downright nasty. Someone who doesn't even read the book has no right to trash it. And, you're right. Something like that just makes the reviewer look mean-spirited and ridiculous.

I don't mind if a reader criticizes some aspect of my writing, but, at least, give a valid reason for it.


message 4: by John (last edited Feb 19, 2012 11:31AM) (new)

John Ford | 14 comments Bad reviews can be hard to take, especially when there aren't many other reviews posted yet. But try not to let it get to you. Honestly, I think having a few less-that-glowing reviews is better than having no reviews at all. It's that whole "there's no such thing as bad publicity" thing; at least the work is getting noticed! And if it is actually a good story, the positive reviews will eventually balance it out. OTOH, if the reviews stay not-so-good, you should at least get an idea of what readers are having issues with and be able to use their critique to grow as a writer. Everybody wants to get better.


message 5: by Trynda (new)

Trynda E. Adair (trynda_e_adair) | 17 comments Thankyou for all your help, i guess i'm still a little jumpy. Yes Cheryl i am a beggining writer, this is the first peice of work i have ever published, i'm still getting used to everything that comes along with publishing :)


message 6: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl Landmark (clandmark) | 242 comments Yes, the publishing world can definitely be a scary place. I'm a relatively new author myself (just a little over two years on the market), and I still get jitters every time I put something out there for the reading public. I've just released my latest fantasy, and it's been a little slow in getting on to readers' to-read lists, but I'm hoping things will pick up soon.

Like I said, and John has reiterated, eventually those good reviews will come. You just have to keep trying to grow as a writer and not get too discouraged.


message 7: by Cleveland (last edited Feb 19, 2012 01:16PM) (new)

Cleveland | 47 comments Trynda,
A lot of readers have been helpful regarding bad reviews. And that one person who doesn't like your work. Ha! You , like a lot of writers, don't write for ALL readers, instead you write for one. It so happens that the reviewer is unfortunately not that one. What a shame.

If you compare my writing to Shakespeare I guess I might not do so well but compare my writing to me and then I start to shine. Strange that, how we look at the world.

Writing is a lonely world but it is possible to keep friends with like minded writers like yourself. Then it's not so bad.

Last year I published 4 e-books and two hard covers. You guessed it. Yesterday somebody read a new story of mine and I could tell a million things from the way they wrote. So do I reciprocate, read some of their work and send them a review indicating what is wrong with their work. Sadly even if I told them they'd fail to understand, and they'd waste my time.

Best wishes and stay positive.
Cleveland


message 8: by Sherri (new)

Sherri Moorer (sherrithewriter) | 143 comments I'd say that no, you aren't over-reacting. Reviews like that do hurt. But I'd also say to put it in perspective and realize that the review wasn't very objective. It was totally based on personal preferences and they didn't have the ability to pull back from that and look at the content of it. Really, they probably should have realized their own bias and not have reviewed it at all - but unfortunately, they didn't have enough self awareness to realize that. We've all been "slammed" so try not to take it too hard. That's part of the risk of putting your work out there. I say that having it published with a bad review is better than not being published. You can (and will) get better reviews in the future - but if you hadn't published, then NOBODY would have a chance to read it. Be proud of what you've accomplished and look forward to better feedback soon.


message 9: by L.E. (new)

L.E. Fitzpatrick (l_e_fitzpatrick) | 60 comments Trynda wrote: "Last night i recieved the first review i've ever gotten in my life. It was a 2 stars out of 5. They said it was because it was short, even if it was a short story and they didnt like the cliffhange..."
Don't worry - I had really good reviews then sent my book to an Englich lecturer reviewer of fantasy - she said she only read the first three chapters and offered me a list of "self-help" writer books. She advised me to unpublish and start again - also that my book was too long.

Surely the beauty of indie writing and epublishing is SIZE DOESN'T MATTER.

Sometimes taste affects people's judgement, you can't be popular with everyone and I'm sure the good reviews will start flooding in (after all your bad review was only two minor points the rest must be good).


message 10: by Bridget (new)

Bridget Bowers (bridgetbowers) | 85 comments Bad reviews can be hard to deal with at times. The best thing to remember is that you can't please all the people all the time. The trick is finding the people that you can please and continuing to do so.

Also keep in mind that a lot of readers say that a book that only has good reviews looks suspicious. They tend to think they're only reviews from family and friends meant to make your work look good. So, even though a bad review can feel harsh, it can make your book "look" better to the next reader.


message 11: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Puddle (trishapuddle) | 240 comments Good luck, Trynda, you'll get good reviews eventually. I have four published children's books and I get good and bad reviews. But guess what? After a bad review, I seem to get more sales. Teehee. Maybe other readers want to find out why it's so bad, or it's my fans rebelling. I don't know why. All reviews are publicity, though the bad reviews can smart sometimes. Readers either love or hate my stories as my characters are mischievous and I model them after kids with ADHD, tourettes, and OCD sometimes, though I don't say so in the stories. But so far I haven't had a child reader dislike my stories. I get fan male from them telling me how much they love them.

Keep going, Trynda, and let us know when you get a good review so we can celebrate with you.


message 12: by Kashif (new)

Kashif Ross (kashifross) I got my first one star review. It was hilarious. The person actually went out of their way to create a fake account and post the review, but I knew it was someone I unintentionally offended earlier that day on Twitter. They read my novel and said they loved 94% of it. I kid you not. They thought it had great editing and a wonderful flow, but they hated the ending so much that it was worth a one star.

I actually spoke the person, giving them some insight to my conclusion and letting them know how it related to my own personal life. I wasn't trying to convince or persuade them, but just let them know that their questions would be answered in later books.

The reviewer understood my perspective and raised it from one star to three.

Both reviews were fine by me. I'll take anything right now. And There's no way to avoid getting a bad review. It will come when it's ready.

I've actually seen many discussions that say '5 star reviews are more detrimental.'

This may be hard to believe, but there are some people who are turned on by one star. Psychology teaches us that people look for flaws in others because it helps them relate. That's why Patricia gets more sales!

One star is bad in a sense, but try to see the positive in anything less than perfect.


message 13: by Patti (new)

Patti Roberts | 93 comments love to have you post your comments here for others to read - http://paradox-theangelsarehere.blogs...


message 14: by Chris (new)

Chris Ward (chriswardfictionwriter) I've never had a one star review so I can't comment on what it feels like. BUT, in the twelve years I've been submitting and selling stories to magazines I've wracked up several hundred rejection slips, many of which had some bad things to say.

My advice is read it, see if there's anything useful you can glean from it, and if not, just ignore it. NEVER respond directly to the reviewer, and don't think that because you have one bad review that means no one will buy it. Most people tend to go on a balance. If you end up with twenty one star reviews and nothing else, you might want to consider rewriting your story, but otherwise don't worry about it.


message 15: by Bryn (new)

Bryn Hammond (brynhammond) I take comfort from the Great and Famous books that are sitting on an average of 3.7 stars. My fave sf writer and a certain play of Shakespeare's. Then there's the lists of bad comments underneath dead authors, comments so unobservant that were the authors alive, Charles Dickens would be thumping his head on the table, you know, just like we do.


message 16: by Jenn (new)

Jenn Thorson (jennthorson) | 65 comments Most of the time the really angry low reviews say more about the person reviewing and their current mindset than they do your work.

You might find this blog post on bad reviews by John Locke helpful: http://donovancreed.com/2011/03/bad-r...

I thought it talked about online media and the reviewers' mindset very well-- and offers some consolation.


message 17: by M. (new)

M. Trevelean (mtrevelean) | 18 comments Hi Trynda, getting a bad review is never a pleasant experience but I believe it's one that you need to get out of the way early in your writing life. Once you've had one you become a lot more thick skinned about it. I'll echo what others here have said, it's one persons opinion and you'll never get everyone to like what you do. There's always a good review just round the corner so keep your chin up and keep pushing on. No surrender!


message 18: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl Landmark (clandmark) | 242 comments Jenn wrote: "Most of the time the really angry low reviews say more about the person reviewing and their current mindset than they do your work.

You might find this blog post on bad reviews by John Locke helpf..."


Just checked out this link, Jenn, and I agree. It definitely offers some sound advice and encouragement.

I have been very, very fortunate so far to have received honest, constructive reviews for my books. Nothing lower than a 3-star rating and even those have had a lot of nice things to say while at the same time pointing out areas for improvement. I'm bracing myself for a negative review because it almost seems inevitable it will come one of these days. Reading and art appreciation are so subjective, after all. I just hope that I will have developed a thick skin by then and will have the maturity and wherewithal to roll with the punches.


message 19: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Rainey (jennifer_rainey) | 65 comments Chris is absolutely right. Learn what you can from bad reviews and then move on; don't give it any more thought than it deserves. Art is subjective, and it's also a blessing in disguise to have *some* bad reviews. This lets readers know that you're not just having a bunch of friends give you fake five-star reviews. ;) Good luck, Trynda! Here's hoping you get some wonderful reviews to balance out the bad one!


message 20: by Chris (new)

Chris Ward (chriswardfictionwriter) Totally. I'm reading Dark Tower 7 by Stephen King at the moment, and at half way in I think it's awesome. However, a quick glance at Amazon.com shows me it has exactly 100 one-star and exactly 100 two-star reviews. It's only averaging 3.5 from more than 600 reviews in total. Do you think I care (or Stephen King cares for that matter) what those two hundred bad reviews think? Not at all, because if I read reviews at all it's just to get an average overall feeling for a big, because anyone with any sense knows that people have different opinions. If all 600 were one-star, I might think carefully about reading it.


message 21: by Chris (new)

Chris Ward (chriswardfictionwriter) I have several mates who write who refuse to send stuff out to magazines because they're worried about it getting rejected. Rejection and negative criticism are part of life. A writer needs to be able to take a veritable sh&t ton of it on the chin in order to make themselves into the best writer they can be.


message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

I don't mind a one star if it is accompanied by some positive feedback and is honest. I had one one star review by someone who was angry about something I said on one of the chat sites and totally trashed my self-help book. It was obvious she hadn't even read the book and it was extreme, "Stop! Stop! Stop.." etc.

I also had a one star and bad review by someone who claimed that my first Judith McCain thriller started at the end of chapter 13. I bought my own book and downloaded it and it started on chapter one.

I had two star and bad review about the same book saying that I wrote like a twelve year old. Well, I felt like this was at least honest. Maybe it did sound like a 12 year old's writing to her. Since I read that most TV shows are geared to 6th grade level, then that might be a compliment. At least it would be an easy read.

Not everyone relies on the ratings and reviews to tell them what to like. Last year I finally picked up a couple of books by an author who had been on the New York Times best selling list for years. I wanted to see what she was like. I honestly can't figure out why anyone would read her but she has a large follwoing.


message 23: by S. (new)

S. Bailey (sthomasbailey) | 8 comments Reviews...so critical to a writer...but if you get all five star reviews then it appears people assume all your friends wrote them...you can't win! Maybe you just wrote a great book and enjoy it. There are a number of 'professional' reviewers who feel it their obligation to give tough reviews...I prefer the reader who has an appreciation for the genre you wrote and reviews it more honestly and for the entertanment value.
I had a revew done by 'sb', well my initials are 'sb' so some people concluded I wrote it...what can you do?
My best advice is to enjoy the journey, stay true to yourself,being a writer is an exciting thing and feed off the good reviews and take the bads one's for what they are...one persons' opinion. Cheers, S.


message 24: by Nell (last edited Feb 26, 2012 07:36AM) (new)

Nell Grey (nellgrey) | 59 comments Peggy wrote: I also had a one star and bad review by someone who claimed that my first Judith McCain thriller started at the end of chapter 13. I bought my own book and downloaded it and it started on chapter one.

Peggy, your reviewer may have meant that in his/her opinion the earlier chapters were hardly necessary - that the hook and the action only began at the end of chapter thirteen.


message 25: by Suzan (new)

Suzan Tisdale (suzantisdale) | 18 comments S. wrote: "Reviews...so critical to a writer...but if you get all five star reviews then it appears people assume all your friends wrote them...you can't win! Maybe you just wrote a great book and enjoy it. ..."

You are so correct!


message 26: by Alan (new)

Alan McDermott (jambalian) | 25 comments This is my greatest fear.

So far Gray Justice has had 19 reviews on Amazon UK and 18 of them are 5 stars (the other was 4 stars). I know that one day I am going to get something lower (I've had a 3 star rating on here but no review to explain why) and I can't imagine how I will deal with it.

All of my reviews have been from genuine readers, mostly people I have had no contact with. There are a few who are followers on Twitter, but I have always asked that people leave a review based on what they got from the book. One person sent me the review before publishing and asked if there was anything I wanted to clarify but I told them to just publish it. I only got 4 stars when I could have argued for 5 because that is what the reader felt the book was worth.

I have read the argument that all 5 star reviews can be bad for a book and can even put people off, so there doesn't seem to be a win in my case.

As I said, I know my work is going to get slated one day, simply because not everyone will like my book. I expected it a lot with Gray Justice as I have always been the negative type, and was astounded that it has been so well received. Now that the sequel is ready and will be published on March 1st I am going through the same emotions again. I pray that the big numbers keep coming up but I'm bracing myself to take a hit this time.


message 27: by L.E. (new)

L.E. Fitzpatrick (l_e_fitzpatrick) | 60 comments The other day I read a review of an indie author that said something along the lines of "this author having published another book is laughable."

Then it got worse.

I got my first three star after doing quite well and it hurt, but I chatted to the reviewer, who happened to know a bit about what she was talking about and I think I can learn from what she has said.

Sometimes bad reviews can be good.


message 28: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Rainey (jennifer_rainey) | 65 comments Deb wrote: "I have 2 2-star ratings for my book that hasn't even been published yet. I'm not sure what they are rating - the cover and blurb????

I've heard that any reviews, good or bad, are better than none."


What?! I'd love to know why they rated a book that isn't out yet. But I completely agree; no matter what kind of reviews you have, it's good to have them. (Heck, I know I've bought books before because of "bad" reviews!)


message 29: by Chris (new)

Chris Ward (chriswardfictionwriter) Haha, some people are idiots. Before George RR Martin's latest book was released, there were a bunch of negative "reviews" on Amazon complaining that the release date kept getting put back. That was it.

I don't pay attention to reviews either. I'm currently reading Stephen King's Dark Tower 7 and it has exactly 100 one-star reviews on Amazon, but I think it's excellent.


message 30: by John (new)

John Ford | 14 comments LE wrote: "

I got my first three star after doing quite well and it hurt..."


Why would a three star review hurt? That's not a negative review. That's an "I liked it, but..." review.


message 31: by Chris (new)

Chris Ward (chriswardfictionwriter) I agree. The three star ones are the only ones I think that have any merit. I'm always wary of something - especially something self-published - that has nothing but five star reviews.


message 32: by L.E. (new)

L.E. Fitzpatrick (l_e_fitzpatrick) | 60 comments John wrote: "LE wrote: "

I got my first three star after doing quite well and it hurt..."

Why would a three star review hurt? That's not a negative review. That's an "I liked it, but..." review."

Perfectionism, ego and general foolishness. I take criticism very seriously, because my reviewers give me valuable feedback and after my three star I realise I need to go back and improve my errors, which always feels like taking another step back at first, now I'm thinking seriuosly about it I feel I moving forward and getting better.

(Effectively I'm a spontaneous idiot, just not consistently)


message 33: by S. (new)

S. Bailey (sthomasbailey) | 8 comments WOW! A experienced writer had warned me this industry was messed up. It is insulting to say an 'Self-Pulished' author cannot write a five star novel... maybe people really like your novel and it is well written. Ask a reader who published the last book they read.
As for Stephen King, you either love him or dislike him. Do you really think he cares about reviews? If you enjoy him would you not purchase his book even if it had no reviews?
The real issue is if you get a number of 1 or 2 star reviews then maybe you need to re-look at your novel.
Call me insane but I appreciate good reviews and maybe...just maybe, I wrote a good book!
Steve


message 34: by S. (new)

S. Bailey (sthomasbailey) | 8 comments Very well put, Jaq!


message 35: by S. (new)

S. Bailey (sthomasbailey) | 8 comments If you target market your novel to the proper reveiwers than you increase the potential of better reviews. I still don't understand how you read a number of five star reviews as bad.

As a writer my goal is to get good reviews and if I get all five stars and people choose not to purchase it because of that, so be it. Like I said earlier, you wonder why this industry is so messed up.
Steve


message 36: by [deleted user] (new)

Don't worry about it. There are plenty of people who don't have to rely on stars to tell them what to like. I am one of these free thinkers and I love to read.


message 37: by Chris (new)

Chris Ward (chriswardfictionwriter) Probably the best book I've ever read is The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffeneger. It has 1,315 five star reviews on Amazon.com, but it also has 222 one star reviews. I loved that book, but it all comes down to personal choice. Just because a book gets a one star review doesn't make it bad, only IN THE EYES OF THAT REVIEWER. Authors need a thick skin and shouldn't take the opinions of a small percentage of people to heart ... but, surprise, surprise, so many of them do.


message 38: by [deleted user] (new)

Truly, do not worry about negative reviews. Your individuality as a writer and the thought you put into your work are the key elements that will leave you feeling content when all is said and done. Certainly, I respect that a writer's feelings/sense of artistic purpose can be crumbled based on some of the harsh reviews. However, each individual in life has his or her own opinion, and as well put by many posters in this thread, some of the best reviewed books also have many negative reviews.

I just received a bad review the other day but I did not let it ruin my writing spirit. :) When an individual uses a review to make personal judgements about the writer that are false, it is more difficult to accept than a critique on the writing itself. No matter what, however, even in the personal judgements category, I think a writer needs to realize everyone will interpret the work differently, and try to develop a sense of humor about the entire process. :)

I wish you the best of luck Trynda! I admire you for putting your work out there. :)


message 39: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl Landmark (clandmark) | 242 comments Peggy wrote: "Don't worry about it. There are plenty of people who don't have to rely on stars to tell them what to like. I am one of these free thinkers and I love to read."

Peggy, I'm with you. If the premise of the book sounds good to me, I will read it, regardless of the reviews and ratings. I like to be my own judge of what to read. In fact, I don't even like to look at the reviews here on Goodreads until after I've read the book myself because I'm afraid what someone else says might subconsciously influence or colour my own perceptions and opinion of the book. I want to be able to enjoy the story on its own before making any judgments about it.


message 40: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl Landmark (clandmark) | 242 comments Jaq wrote: "Not to mention spoilers. I try to avoid giving away too much when I write a review, but it's far too easy to spoil a story by dropping a key plot point that the ready should have discovered through..."

That's the problem I have, too, Jaq...trying not to give away too much of the plot when I write a review. I try to keep my critique as general as possible to avoid spoilers, but, sometimes, a key element is the very thing that I have an issue with. At the same time, I don't want my review to be too vague and unspecific, either. Just saying "the plot sucked" without giving at least some valid reasons why is worthless, in my opinion.


message 41: by Jenn (last edited Feb 28, 2012 06:37AM) (new)

Jenn Thorson (jennthorson) | 65 comments Cheryl wrote: "Jaq wrote: "Not to mention spoilers. I try to avoid giving away too much when I write a review, but it's far too easy to spoil a story by dropping a key plot point that the ready should have discov..."

Well, fortunately, you can always preface it with a SPOILER ALERT and that gives readers a chance to back slowly away if they don't want to learn something yet. :)


message 42: by Ric (new)

Ric (ricaustria) | 7 comments Writing a review is a lot easier than writing a story, since, hey, someone's already written the story, so sometimes reviewers are less careful about what they write. From my own experience, I've written reviews that when read months or years later ring so untrue; i.e., I hated the book then, but now I love it. It's all perception and sample size.


message 43: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Rainey (jennifer_rainey) | 65 comments Ric wrote: "Writing a review is a lot easier than writing a story, since, hey, someone's already written the story, so sometimes reviewers are less careful about what they write. From my own experience, I've ..."

I've *definitely* had that happen before! Just living and experiencing new things changes a person's outlook drastically at times. A book which may not ring with a person at all when they're 20, may speak profoundly to them when they're 50. It's just another example of how subjective it all is!


message 44: by Michael Cargill (new)

Michael Cargill Cargill (michaelcargill) | 217 comments Trynda, I don't think that review is really that bad to be honest. The length criticism seems slightly odd but that is down to taste really. Same with the ending.

I have had several atrocious reviews on Barnes and Noble from people who haven't even read the damn thing;


I havent read it yet but im not going to because alot of people say they hate it

This book looks sooooooooooooo BORIN,!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Dork diaries is sooooooooo much better!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I aint gonna read it. Cover looks booooorrring! I luv dork diarys but dout this one!! No afencd to


message 45: by Michael Cargill (new)

Michael Cargill Cargill (michaelcargill) | 217 comments Jaq... you were on Dragons Den? You can't leave us hanging like that, what was it for?


message 46: by [deleted user] (new)

Jaq wrote: "Michael wrote: "I have had several atrocious reviews on Barnes and Noble from people who haven't even read the damn thing;


I havent read it yet but im not going to because alot of people say they..."
This si what I don't understand. There should be some recourse that we authors should be entitled to if someone does a review when they haven't read the book. It's so cruel and I think it's downright jealousy.


message 47: by Michael Cargill (new)

Michael Cargill Cargill (michaelcargill) | 217 comments Jaq - I did actually report the reviews and nothing happened. Then I emailed Barnes and Noble support and they replied telling me to email some other people. I did so but the reviews are still there!

To be honest those ones I posted don't bother me as much as perhaps you might think. They are so mind-bogglingly ridiculous that no-one who takes notice of reviews will be influenced by them.


message 48: by Jenn (new)

Jenn Thorson (jennthorson) | 65 comments Michael wrote: "Jaq - I did actually report the reviews and nothing happened. Then I emailed Barnes and Noble support and they replied telling me to email some other people. I did so but the reviews are still th..."

Yes, I'm sure when it's that obvious the poster has no credibility, it won't hurt you one iota with potential buyers. It only makes the "reviewer" look bad and might even give you some sympathy votes. :)


message 49: by M.A. (last edited Mar 02, 2012 03:17PM) (new)

M.A. Demers | 43 comments Micheal wrote: "I havent read it yet but im not going to because alot of people say they hate it

This book looks sooooooooooooo BORIN,!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Dork diaries is sooooooooo much better!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I aint gonna read it. Cover looks booooorrring! I luv dork diarys but dout this one!! No afencd to"


Sounds like it was written by someone promoting Dork Diaries. Have you thought to trace the source?


message 50: by Michael Cargill (new)

Michael Cargill Cargill (michaelcargill) | 217 comments No, it wouldn't be worth the effort.


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