Written by Dr. Melissa Caudle
DEALING WITH A BAD BOOK REVIEW – THE DO’S AND DON’TS FOR AUTHORS
Whether you check your books’ online reviews daily or haven’t even bothered to claim your author websites on Author Central, Goodreads, and Bookbub, one thing for sure readers are reviewing your book and you can bet your last dollar that potential readers and fans are reading what others are saying about you online. In a survey by YouGov.com, they reported that 79% of U.S. adult Internet users check online reviews before they purchase a book.
The second thing they do is to read the book’s blurb or synopsis. That is how essential reviews and your synopsis are to your book’s sales. As authors, we all dream of having nothing but five star-reviews because they are a powerful way to drive readers to purchase your book. We go out of the way to encourage our friends, family, and colleagues to leave a review, and then someone we don’t know leaves a terrible review crushing your inner author soul.
A fellow author whom I follow recently asked me what he should do because he received a negative review? Do you ignore it? Do you address it?
You are going to have to do something because one in thirty-three authors report that the sales of their book dropped after a negative review. Ouch! All your hard work went down the drain. Your chances are low that you will receive a bad review. However, many authors ignore online review sites because they’re terrified of getting a bad review. If this is you, take comfort because another recent survey reports that just one in twenty-five entrepreneurs say a negative online review has impacted them. Chances are low, but bad reviews do happen. If someone negatively reviews your book online, how should you respond?
Here are the dos and don’ts of dealing with negative online reviews.
Negative Online Reviews – The “Don’ts
Here are the “Don’ts” of dealing with a negative review of your book.
- Don’t Take it Personally. I know it is hard not to take any negative review or comment personally, but you can’t. Remember, that they are not reviewing you, but are reviewing the words you wrote. When you receive a book review, it is a subjective review, not about you as a person, but about the contents of the book.
- Don’t Get defensive. Many authors the first time they receive a negative review feel defeated, and then they get angry and go on the defensive. Wait! That might be the natural thing to do, but it isn’t the best thing to do. One negative comment by you and your entire authoring career can be over in an instant. I am a firm believer that authors don’t get in trouble for what they haven’t said or written; they get in trouble when the respond angrily which sets up a viral infestation of your good book. Respond positively and not defensively. You might offer a clarification. However, never belittle the reviewer, shame them, or rub them the wrong way because it will only make the situation worse. Remember, you are the professional author, and that you are a business.
- Don’t Ignore it. When you ignore a negative online review, it is almost as bad as posting a defensive statement. An ignored negative review validates the reviewer because you failed to address the issue. Second, potential readers tend to question you as to whether you even care. If you don’t care, why should they? Being unresponsive also demonstrates to the readers that you might not be an authentic author. People love to interact with authors and get to know them through their blogs and social media posts. I have more than 125,500 followers or those who visit my site, and when I don’t post for a week, I get tons of emails.
- Don’t Participate in an Online Battle. Trolls! Trolls! Trolls! Sometimes there is nothing you can do about a troll who loves to be involved in negative confrontations. Don’t engage with Trolls. Your readers are smart enough to know the difference between a Troll and an honest negative review. Your goal in dealing with a Troll is to calmly re-state the facts and then move onto another topic Your readers will identify that you are responding as a professional.
- Don’t Go on a Campaign to Beg for Positive Reviews. There is something not right for an author who begs for positive reviews or purchases them from a variety of freelance sites. These reviews stick out like a sore thumb and will back firer on an author. Don’t fall victim to this unprofessional way of dealing with a bad negative review. Often, future readers are turned off immediately to your book because of what they deem as unethical behavior of an author. The best review for your book is an unsolicited honest review. Those stand out to future readers more than the negative review.
- Forget About the Review. Make yourself a promise that after you examine the review and retrieve any reliable information to help you become a better writer, you’ll forget the review. That’s right, never reread it. Don’t go there. It is in the past, and that is where it should remain.
Negative Online Reviews – The “Do’s.”
I hope you can ascertain the damage that you could do to your authoring career and your book’s sales if you respond unprofessionally or unethically to a negative book review. Listed below are my suggestions to how to respond to a negative review online.
- Honesty is the Best Policy. In all dealings in life, it is the best policy is to always to be honest. Your word becomes a bond that your readers can trust. Most reviewers who leave a negative review are leaving their honest opinion. They may not have liked your character, the plot, or the manner in which you wrote. It is their opinion, honor that. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. When you receive a negative review, respond by thanking that reviewer for their opinion and that you will reflect on their feedback. Then thank them for purchasing your book and for supporting authors, and you genuinely regret that your book did not meet their entertainment style. In this manner, you are not blaming them, bashing them, or criticizing them. When your readers, read your response, they recognize that you are a fair an unbiased person that conducts themselves without reproach. Also, any message should be authentic.
- Promote a Positive Image of Your Book. In a separate post and without mentioning the negative review or reviewer, promote your book with an ad that includes reviews and quotes from positive reviewers. I would even go so far as issuing a press release about how well the book is selling and announce any future books you plan on writing. Put out at least ten to one positive press and posts to a negative one. Many blogs review books or interview authors, such as Absolute Author Publishing House and on my blog. Take advantage of these. Also, flood your social media sites with a new book trailer and hold the world premiere on Facebook to generate interest and create your own YouTube videos or podcasts describing your book, your writing process and a variety of interviews. I would also conduct a book Giveaway immediately on a social media influencer’s blog such as on Absolute Author Publishing House. I even host them here in Dr. Mel’s Message for a small fee. Contact me.
- Grow and Learn From a Negative Review. A negative review can turn out to be something positive if you allow it to happen. How? You must grow and become a better author honing your craft. If you have only received one negative review, then you might not need to do much growing. Also, research who the review is. Do they constantly post negative reviews or are their reviews a mixture of positive and negative. A mixture indicates that they are giving their unbiased opinion. However, if you are continually receiving negative reviews, learn to isolate what the reviewers are trying to tell you about your writing. See if there are any patterns and address them in your writing style. Also, this is the time to review your manuscript. Did you have it professionally edited and formatted? Is it written with difficult language? Are there plot holes? Again, honesty is the best policy, and you have to be honest with yourself. I have published dozens of books, both nonfiction and fiction and with each one, I learn something new. I stay on top of the latest publishing trends; I read other author’s novels, I edit professionally other author’s novels. All of this makes me a better writer and the more efficient you become; you will write better books which lower your risk for any negative review.
I hope you find solace that a negative review isn’t the ending for your book. It means that your book is getting read and by people who care enough to leave a comment just as much you cared enough to write it. A bad review is not doom and gloom but the time for an author to take the higher road. When you do, you’ll be stronger for it and others will recognize it.
ABSOLUTE AUTHOR PUBLISHING HOUSE AUTHOR’S UPDATES
ONE STEP AT A TIME BY LIZ ASHE HAVRILLA
First, there is Liz Ashe Havrilla’s new audiobook, ONE STEP AT A TIME: AN EYE WITNESS ACCOUNT TO HURRICANE KATRINA, published by Absolute Author Publishing House This is a powerful story of her surviving Hurricane Katrina at Ground Zero. It reads like an action-packed thriller filled with love, faith, hope, and God’s mercy. This book is a must-read or a must-listen. Take a look at the book trailer.
NEURO CONFINEMENT BY SOPHIE MARIE WHITE
Sophie Marie White’s new book NEURO CONFINEMENT, published by Absolute Author Publishing House, is very intriguing at all levels. When she first presented her manuscript to me, I was floored and new that I had to be the development editor. This book is dark and twisted in a psychological way and filled with imagery for the imagination to go wild. The plot of this book is that a drug traps criminals in their own mind for thirty days. However, those days are equivalent to thirty years. As you read this book, you know from the very first word that it will capture you in it. This book will be released sometime in late May or Early June. More on those details as we approach the publication date as well as the cover reveal. The above cover is from the award-winning screenplay.
BEAUTY GROWN FROM A CONCRETE LIFE: BLOSSOMING IN MY GREATNESS BY SHIRLEY LUCAS CAIN
Shirley Lucas Cain is a remarkable woman with a remarkable story of hope in a time of despair in her book BEAUTY GROWN FROM A CONCRETE LIFE: BLOSSOMING IN MY GREATNESS, published by Absolute Author Publishing House. Throughout the last couple of months, I have become friends with Shirley and I have found that her testimony and love for God is overwhelming. You can’t help but be moved by her words and her story. During the last months of the editing process, Shirley was in and out of the hospital facing a catastrophic illness. She never gave up hope, and she never complained. What I witnessed was a powerful journey of prayer and God’s mercy. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with depression, is suicidal, and is in need of God’s grace. Take a look at the trailer.
Woman empowerment summarizes THE THREAD BY LEONIE, published by Absolute Author Publishing House, that will be released late this summer. I am having the privilege of editing this wonderful spiritual journey book along with my junior editor Erin N. Wright. I can’t wait to share with everyone. We are so early in the stage of development we don ‘t have a book’s cover. So, stay tuned.
WHERE ARE MY CHILDREN BY D. L. DAVIS
When it comes to novellas, this book, WHERE ARE MY CHILDREN, by D.L.Davis, published by Absolute Author Publishing House is remarkably written and it takes you on a journey through Hurricanes in a fictional tone. The book is a quick read and offers great insight. I look forward to the release of this book on June 1, 2019, which is also the day that Hurricane season begins. Pre-order will be available within the next week.
A.D.A.M. – THE BEGINNING OF LIFE BY DR. MELISSA CAUDLE
I would be remiss if I didn’t alert my readers to my own book, A.D.A.M. – THE BEGINNING OF LIFE that will be launched in one month. I am very excited about this book because I have worked on it for almost a year. It is an incredible story based off a finding of a microbe that thrives off arsenic from Mono Lake, California. I took what if and developed the characters and plot around it. Take a look at several of the book’s trailers featuring the fabulous D. H. Lewis, Stephen Beal, and Jamie Alyson.
INCREASE YOUR PRE-ORDER SALES BY FOLLOWING THE ADVICE FROM MY LATEST BOOK HOW TO LAUNCH AND MARKET A BOOK.