All Reviews are Good Reviews, Even the Bad Ones
Guys, it happened. I got my first bad review before my book was even a month old. And I did what all artists do, I cuddled up to my honey, ate more ice cream than one would think is humanly possible and I got back to it. Why? Because you can’t please everyone. Bad reviews happen and I am going to sit here and think up reasons even bad reviews are a good thing until I believe it… I mean you believe it.
- Not everyone will like your book: I know this is hard to understand because your book is awesome sauce, but, in a world of thousands of readers, there’s no way every one will like it. Maybe your MC has a best bud who is selfish or something. The reader might hate that the MC puts up with them. I’m sure you have a good reason for this character being there but maybe we don’t know that reason until the next book.
- I don’t want people who won’t like my book to buy my book: If people who don’t like your book don’t review it, other people like them will buy it and not like it. I don’t want a sale for the sake of a sale and I’m betting you don’t either. “Bad” reviews are helpful because they will help people who won’t like your book keep browsing. I know this is the opposite of what you usually want but I promise it’s a plus.
- They make it clear that your only reviews aren’t from friends and family. I don’t know about you, but when I see a book with 20 five-star reviews and nothing else, I’m immediately skeptical. I assume they either bribed people, or they happen to have more friends than I do and just asked. This is especially true if all these five-stars claim it’s the “best book eveerrrrrr.” I always check out the lower reviews to determine if it might hit certain reader pet-peeves of mine. I won’t go into stats here, but I look for a good distribution curve, with a smattering of five- and one- or two-star reviews, with many four- and three-stars.
- They can help you improve your craft: At the time of my bad review I was feeling like my bad boy MC was too soft. And yet, the review stated he was “too bad” for her tastes. I’m pretty sure this means he’s right where I want him. There were also comments about silted dialogue which I can use. Now I know I need to watch my dialogue a bit closer and hopefully resolve the issue for future works. The last critique she made was about how the end jumped around. Something I also felt was an issue, but as a new author I was unable to figure out how to convey all the information without it being like that. Since I finished that book, I have had this in mind and have been able to work around it by not letting it occur int he rough draft. Occasionally I feel I have to sacrifice information, but I would rather it flowed better and found another place for those particular tidbits. Improvement is kinda the point, don’t you think?
There you have it folks! Three very good reasons even bad reviews are good. I would like to mention that there is a difference between a bad review and a nasty review. A nasty review is one that is just mean and may even indicate that the person didn’t read the book. Those are something you should ignore all together — most of your readership can tell the difference, too. And whatever you do, don’t engage your reviewers, regardless of their review. Don’t let those kinds of reviews get to you. In fact, don’t let any reviews get to you. Use them to make your next project better.