Bad Reviews – An Author’s Blessing
By Rebecca Besser
I had planned on writing about procrastination, but I changed my mind after one of my ebooks received a 2-star review. Besides…I can always write about procrastination later, right? LOL
I think some authors misunderstand what reviews are and how to use them for their benefit. Reviews are opinions about or impressions readers have of your book. They are insight into how your work is perceived from each person’s point of view. They aren’t the start all, end all of what your book is or can be. There is absolutely no need to put your work’s/book’s value on reviews, unless all the reviews/reviewers are saying the same bad things (that means there’s something wrong across the board). If you’re getting all bad comments, that often means the book needs major reworking/editing help; you can easily avoid this by making sure you have good editing help and beta readers who will be honest with you before you publish your book. The life and career of an author can be greatly blessed and successful with the use of those story strengthening tools.
One benefit of book reviews is that they can help people make an informed decision when they are considering buying a copy of your book. This is usually for new readers who have never heard of you before and are considering trying out your work for the first time. Authors think having all good reviews will help with this, but that’s not true; all good reviews make things look rigged. Not everyone is going to like your book, so if you have all 5-star reviews from raving fans someone is going to get suspicious. It’s good to have a few not so great reviews mixed in with those enthusiastic fans. Why? Because reviews are personal opinion and not everyone likes the same thing. And, people take different things away from stories. The availability of good reviews, mixed with a few not so good, makes the reviews more real and gives a potential reader an idea of the great points and the bad points of a title. (If you think your book has no bad points or drawbacks, you’re living in a fantasy world – they all have good and bad.)
A second benefit, and one that’s majorly overlooked, is that because of the insight given by a variety of readers an author can find out what their strengths and weaknesses are. If someone says there’s not enough detail, or some of the scenes were done too quickly, or even the opposite that the book moved too slow because of too much detail, then the author can consciously take measures to improve in those areas.
Why wouldn’t an author want that kind of insight? Why wouldn’t an author want to fix their flaws to grow a larger fan base and readership? Pride and ego are usually the main reason these benefits are overlooked.
Hurt feeling and denial spin off into inner (and sometimes public) rants and justifications for all the things readers don’t like about the book. The author believes that the readers just don’t understand what they were trying to do. When, in actuality, the author should be looking at the flaw someone has shown a spotlight on and try to figure out how they can improve to make their books better. I can promise you that if you make the same mistake all the time in your work, you will lose some fans, if not all. They might like your voice or subject matter, but they just can’t stomach your pacing, etc. You may be able to tell a good story, but your characters have no depth and don’t seem real, etc. That will lead them to only read one, maybe two, of your titles before they move on and try to find an author more to their liking. And no, not all authors are for everyone, but improving your craft will grow your readership – it won’t kill it!
Authors need to use reviews constructively for their own writing benefit and for the sales they can bring to a book as far as pulling in new readers. All authors need to keep things in perspective and not get discouraged with a few reviewers who didn’t love their book(s). There are positive benefits, even in the negative opinions.
**Note: This article previously appeared in Rebecca Besser’s Newsletter.**
©Rebecca Besser, 2015. All rights reserved.