Authors – why you shouldn’t ignore bad reviews #wwwblogs #bookreviews

one-star-frown

The one or two star review. It strikes fear into the heart of every author. There are reams of articles about how to handle bad reviews everywhere. And most of them give the same advice.

Ignore them, they say. Scroll right on past. Don’t take it to heart. All authors get bad reviews. Not everyone will like your book. Maybe the reviewer had an ulterior motive. Forget about it. Move on. Keep your head up.

Well, yes. To all of these. But also, no…

Writing is hard. I know that, I’m an author. You invest huge amounts of time and effort into your writing. It can be a pain. And it’s terrifying having your work out there, where it can be picked apart. Wouldn’t it be lovely if everyone could bear all that in mind when they write a review of your book?

But why should they? No one has forced you to put your book on Amazon. And your reader, who has spent their money and invested their time in reading your book, is entitled to their opinion. You chose to sell your book. They bought it in good faith.

Now, I’m not talking about the reviews that are silly and thoughtless and are to do with delivery times and downloading issues etc., etc. Or the sort of reviews that complain about the amount of sex or swearing in a book, something that’s down to personal taste. Or reviewers that mark you down because they don’t like the genre. Those can certainly be discounted. I’m talking about reviews that point out a fault with your book. And if lots of readers are telling you that your books are full of errors, or are too wordy, or are boring, or that they had to skip great big sections, then you need to take note. The problem is, lots of writers lump all these types of reviews together. Worse, they accuse these readers of being trolls.

On Twitter the other day, a writer was asked what he thought about the one star reviews his book had received. Oh, I ignore those, he said, they’re all trolls.

Hmm, I thought. Are they? I decided to do a bit of digging (I love a good distraction). The author’s book had a lot of one and two star reviews. Some of them were scathing. The majority pointed out that the writing was poor, full of grammatical errors and typos.

Surely all these people can’t be trolls, I thought. Why would they be? So I went to the ‘Look Inside’ feature. All these people were right. The opening pages of his books were all very poorly written and full of lazy errors.

Now, the problem with all these articles, caressing these poor authors’ egos, is that this author now feels that he doesn’t have to listen to these readers. That their opinions are worthless. So he goes blindly on, ignoring the issues with his writing, deluding himself and churning out more dreadful books.

And this is a problem with a lot of authors and it’s one that does other indie writers no favours. There is a tendency among authors to be very precious about their work. They think because they’ve worked hard and because they’ve sweated over a book then that means it should be above criticism. They seem to think that because they’ve poured their hearts and souls into something then no one must be mean. Well, I’m sorry, but that’s rubbish.

Why do we writers think we’re above criticism? That it’s OK for us to put something that’s poorly written or badly edited out there, expect people to pay for it, spend their precious time reading it, and then not expect to be taken to task if it’s not up to scratch? If you went to a restaurant and bought a meal and it was crap would you think, oh well, but the chef spent time on it, I should be nice? No, you wouldn’t. You’d complain. You’d be entitled to. And if you’ve put a book out there, then the reader that buys it is entitled to complain if it isn’t up to scratch too.

And while there are a few horrible people out there who are just nasty for the sake of it, I doubt very much that every single person who’s ever given a bad review falls into this category. Most are just fed up and disappointed because they bought a book, with their own money, and it wasn’t that good.

I also know of book reviewers who have dared to criticise books and who have been met with insults and worse. One has even given up reviewing books because the stress of it has made her ill. She’s been so badly treated by authors that her health has suffered. That’s just not on.

Indie authors say they want to be treated with respect. They say they want to be recognised. But then some expect special treatment. The world doesn’t work like that.

So look at those one star reviews. It’s painful, I know. But there might be something in there that really helps your writing.

Be brave. We only learn through our mistakes after all, and if you never face those mistakes and correct them, then you’ll never grow as an author.

And just to lighten the mood, here’s my favourite one star review, for the movie ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’:

wolf street

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86 comments

  1. As a disclaimer, I’m not an author. I think reading negative reviews has to depend on each person’s own ability to deal with negativity and criticism. I completely agree that there are plenty of negative reviews in the world that are valid and thoughtful and that the author might benefit from reading; the downside is that you might have to wade through some trolls and really scathing reviews to find the constructive criticism, and I can’t blame authors for being demoralized by that. Personally, I think the key is to get constructive criticism from somewhere. You should have people reading and giving feedback on your work, and not just your friends who might be inclined to be overly kind. Work with beta readers, an editor, someone, and take what they say seriously. And maybe even if you personally don’t read reviews about your work, you can find someone who will sift through the reviews for you and summarize the helpful comments for you. But, yes, do not assume that everyone who doesn’t 100% love your work is a troll; every writer needs feedback from real readers.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.I completely agree that a negative review can be very demoralising and hard to read (having had to read some myself!), and that goes for those that are constructively critical as well as those that are genuinely just nasty. But,as you say, getting honest criticism is so important, and the problem is that there are a huge amount of authors out there that don’t do this. And that has a knock on effect for all indie authors, because it drags everyone’s reputation down.

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      1. I taught college (expository) writing for a while, so I got a dose of this from some of my students. There are always a few who think that any type of feedback or criticism of their work is “stifling their creativity” or “ruining their artistic vision,” and they don’t want to hear it. But this attitude will always hold you back from improvement, no matter what you write. What you intend and what real readers get from your writing can different, and it’s worth knowing that so you can revise.

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  2. This is such a well-balanced post Alison with wise words all authors should heed. I have a 2* which is a personal complaint about sex and language but I see that as a positive because if others have similar sensibilities they can move on past and go and buy something more appropriate. So even those types of bad reviews can be a good thing.

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  3. Food for thought, Alison. Thank you. Reminds me of the time, as a very young couple husband (then boyfriend) took us to see Midnight Cowboy – because, at the time he liked cowboy films!! (well, we were only fifteen!) Remember the film? All about male prostitutes with Dustin Hoffman and another (rather dishy) chap. Became a family joke he ‘s never lived down. LOL.

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  4. Bravo, bravo, bravo!!!

    I was only saying to another writer the other day, we don’t have a RIGHT to be read. It’s up to us to produce something that the reader will want to keep reading. As for those writers who throw their toys out of the pram every time someone dares to question their brilliance…. in my experience (and it’s a lot, over 5 years of being involved in the self-pub world on a daily basis, as a writer, reviewer and blogger), the worse the writer, the more accentuated the prima donna tendencies. Generally, not always, of course.

    I often make the restaurant comparison myself. Julia and my favourite one is Trip Advisor reviews – if you stay at a lousy hotel, you don’t say ‘Well, the rooms could have been cleaner and the food wasn’t very nice, but they did try hard and it must be really difficult to run a hotel, so I’ll give them 4*’.

    For anyone who is interested, this is my article about dealing with bad reviews:

    http://terrytyler59.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/dealing-with-bad-reviews.html

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  5. The way some reviewers are treated by “authors” are abhorrent. I take criticism as a nudge to look again at what was criticized and, I value the reviewers out there. They are a God send as are beta readers.

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    1. Thanks Evie. Yes, we should see it as a free critique in some ways 🙂 And if all the negative reviews say the same thing, then authors are really missing a chance to improve their work.

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      1. Yes – a negative review doesn’t have to be constructive to be helpful. Reviewers are not obliged to be constructive, but to give their view of a product they’ve bought. However, if 10 reviews say ‘appalling grammar and proofreading’, as with the book you were talking about, Alison, that should be telling you something. If it’s not, perhaps it’s your ego that needs sorting first!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  6. I expect a fair number of 1-2* reviews, and most of the time, there’s just nothing in the book that could’ve pleased them. For those reviewers, it’s just a matter of taste and I was mud to them. No harm, no foul.

    The ones that I find the most value in are the 3*. The “close but no cigars.” Those are the ones, usually, who take the time to think about what they liked, and what was a miss.

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    1. That’s really good advice. Thank you. When I review, the three star ones are the hardest to write, because, as you say, I really have to think hard about what it was that prevents that four star (or two star).

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  7. I read a post by someone who actually said she scanned the one/two star reviews and frequently bought a book on the basis that she thought sh’d make up her own mind about it. She said many of the 5 stars came from friends/fellow writers etc and she rarely read them. So there.

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    1. Me too. When I go to buy a book, if it’s got about 10 x 5* and not much else, I assume they’re from friends. If, however, it’s got over 30 reviews, I assume the 5* are from regular readers. There’s a bit difference. If a writer has a readership, he/she will have more reviews, because the regular readers will buy and read early, and the book bloggers will accept and kick up the list.

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  8. I love this post. I hear so many authors say they never leave 3 or fewer stars because they don’t want to bash other authors. I myself have been flamed mercilessly for pointing out serious editorial problems in Fifty Shades of Grey. There is an attitude (and I don’t know where it comes from) that it is inexcusable to do something that fails to support an indie author. For me, the worse offense is not calling out problems–an act that cheats both authors and readers in its misrepresentation.

    Supporting indie authors used to be about making it easier for people who write great books less dependent on the publishing industry. Somehow it has turned into supporting every single author who considers herself indie no matter the quality of the work. The people I come across either leave a positive review, no matter what or taking an “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” approach. This is madness. Dishonest reviews dilute the value of even having reviews, and the longer we let reviews lose sanity and balance, the more difficult to navigate the business of reading becomes.

    And, when that happens, everybody loses. When reviews are so unhelpful and misleading that it becomes too difficult to figure out what to read anymore, confusion will turn otherwise open-minded readers back into lemmings who follow what the big players with the bug marketing budgets are telling them to, which will make indie authors lose even bigger.

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    1. Thanks so much for reading and commenting. I couldn’t agree more. I really don’t understand why anyone who puts their work out there, and expects people to pay for it too, should expect anything other than that readers give honest reviews. As you say, dishonest reviews and things like review swaps have totally skewed things, and that can only be bad for good indie authors. It’s a real shame.

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    2. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’ve been saying this for ages – if you praise everything, you praise nothing. Mediocre self pub authors all giving each other glowing 5*, whatever the quality of the book, is bad for everyone, because it makes readers assume that all Amazon reviews are from back-scratching writers. It really pisses me off when I get called ‘a supporter of indie authors’. Some of them are total shite. I am a supporter of GOOD authors. How they’re published doesn’t come into it.

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  9. A book may have an overwhelming number of 4 & 5 stars but when you read it, it doesn’t measure up. I have learnt that when I see too many 4 & 5, I instead look if there is a 1 or 2 star review. I then, judge that book according to the lower reviews. Reviews with positive critic are excelllent indicators to better ones writing skills but in general whether reviews are good or bad, it doesn’t matter. What matters is the total number of reviews a book generates. The more reviews, the better because it shows people are reading your book, it is creating a buzz.

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    1. You’re very welcome 🙂 And you’re right – it’s so important to learn from our mistakes. An early review I had for a book pointed out an error I’d made with a historical detail. I was horrified – but it gave me the opportunity to change things. If I hadn’t read that review I’d never have realised. It was mortifying because I pride myself on researching thoroughly, but I certainly learned from that mistake!

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  10. Truth to truth, Alison. I guess the less than lovely reviews don’t fash (a Southern word) me much because of all the harsh and pcicky reviews I received for my scientific papers – although none were every rejected outright and all were published after revisions. Criticism does help improve your writing!

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  11. You made some great points. In truth, I’m suspicious of books with all five star reviews. When I receive one or two stars – I do take them to heart, but in a good way. It shows a balance in the reviews – that not all like your book and I think criticism is healthy.

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  12. Maybe it’s time Behrendt and Tuccillo teamed up again to pen another instalment of He’s Just Not That Into You… for indie authors. 😉

    Unless you’re selling thousands of copies of your books daily (in which case, you’re probably doing something right) then each and every review is very valuable – be it a two-star with some key criticisms you can take on board or a glowing review which may let you know where you really hit home. Sometimes it seems too easy for writers to pass off a negative review as bad taste or, if their work is ‘literature’, to infer that the reader isn’t intelligent enough to understand the nuances of their craft…

    Grrr. As you ask, ‘is it OK for [authors] to put something that’s poorly written or badly edited out there, expect people to pay for it, spend their precious time reading it, and then not expect to be taken to task if it’s not up to scratch?’ And, this still applies if the book is free!

    But, I can say as a reader, it’s very annoying to pick up a five-star riddled book and, at the end, really feel like the Emporer went out in his birthday suit.

    Five-star riddling is so 2013 :).

    I would say though, that my latest three-star review noted that the novella was ‘good for casual reading’, which was brilliant, and I’m hoping that one day I can write something that will at least be good for ‘formal reading’ although I’d settle for ‘cocktail reading’ also!

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    1. Thanks so much for reading and commenting. It is so annoying to read a book with glowing reviews and find it doesn’t live up to them – I’m a lot more wary of those reviews now than I used to be. And there’s nothing at all wrong with casual reading! 🙂

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  13. What an excellent post, Alison – well said. I’m always suspicious when people insist that trolls are at work.
    I once had a very odd 2* review which started by saying the hook wasn’t big enough. Of course, my immediate thought was the reviewer was criticising the opening of my novel. I read on with some bafflement to find that the reviewer had ordered a size 2A but had been sent something too small. I contacted Amazon who kindly removed the review.

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    1. That’s so funny, Mary! When I was writing this post I saw lots of really weird one star reviews, including one that said ‘I haven’t bought this item’. What on earth was that about? 🙂

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  14. Brilliant! I always take the reviews I receive seriously as this is how I learn and evolve as a writer. As readers (especially book bloggers/reviewers) we can get through hundreds of books a year, and we learn quickly what works, and can see errors much faster. It’s a shame the gent in your example doesn’t see that he clearly has a problem that needs addressing! You’ve written a masterpiece of a post here, Alison.

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  15. Great post!

    I actually stopped leaving reviews.

    I was told, as an author, you should never give a bad review no matter how terrible the book is. When I left bad reviews, I tried to point out why (characters being too dumb to live, plot holes, etc.)

    Once it was drilled into my head I couldn’t leave bad reviews, well, then my good reviews were pretty pointless.

    I will say, I look at the bad reviews first on Amazon.Are they making points that will make the book not appeal to me? Stuff like too much sex or swearing, Whatever. I read a lot of romance. Bring on the steamy scenes!

    But if it’s stuff like gaping plot holes, obnoxious characters (commonly referred to as alpha-holes), or heroines too dumb for life, I know it’s probably not a book I will enjoy.

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    1. Thanks so much for your comment. I find it really frustrating that authors can’t see how damaging it is to insist that no one should leave a negative review – I know a lot of authors that are scared to do so in case other authors get back at them by leaving one star reviews in return. As you say, it makes the genuine, good reviews, almost worthless.

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  16. This is an excellent post, but I disagree in part. If you give a book a 1 or 2 readers may permanently blacklist that author. There is always some way to contact an author and explain what was good about their book and what ruined the book for you. Even the author who is exceptionally sensitive to any negative criticism would appreciate a polite note vs a public berating.

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    1. Thank you 🙂 I do see your point, and I do feel really sorry for authors in that position. But I don’t think a reader necessarily needs to take that into account when reviewing a book that they’ve bought.

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    2. Respectfully, that creates another moral dilemma. Under that scenario, you protect the author, but hurt the reader. That’s fundamentally what I take issue with. Omitting less than glowing reviews is good for one species but bad for the ecosystem. The ecosystem does not work without balanced reviews.

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      1. You still haven’t told me how omitting bad reviews helps readers or is fair to the review process itself. You keep focusing on sparing the author. The author is only one player in a larger system. You haven’t commented on the other people (readers and other authors) and what they deserve. Readers care about reviews and by avoiding leaving bad reviews, readers are robbed of balance. Also by giving mediocre or bad work only four- or five-star reviews, it’s not fair to authors whose work really is four or five star. Your approach only protects the author whose work is not up to standard. It protects this kind of author from criticism and reputational harm but it hurts everyone else in the ecosystem.

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      2. I state on my blog that the objective is to promote authors. I give 3-4-5 star reviews. Anything less than that, if I review it, doesn’t receive stars, but I do point out the good as well as the bad. If an author asks me to review a book and I can’t give it at least three stars I tell them why. I have had authors go back and rewrite as a result. One example is an author who wrote a book for young children in which she described the horrific way a pet died. She rewrote that section so as not to scare the very young children she was marketing her book to. If a book is so full of punctuation mistakes that it detracts form enjoyment, that can be corrected, especially if it is an ebook. It rarely happens that I read a book that can’t be given at least a 3 star review. Any given review is only one person’s opinion.
        Some Indie authors go to great pains to put their books out there, hiring editors and proof-readers. Some haven’t learned that you need help along the way. Why not help them out if they are serious about writing? Give them the chance to learn the craft.
        As for the readers, they have the option of not reading a book if it is so bad. Maybe they did pay money for it. Believe me, I am not one for wasting money. But have you ever gone to a restaurant or a movie and been surprised at how much you enjoyed it after hearing so-so or bad comments? Or on the contrary, really disappointed after rave reviews?
        As to giving only 4 or 5 star reviews for mediocre or bad work is not something I would do. My approach doesn’t protect the author whose work is substandard. I expect an author to earn my review. If they can’t do that, there is no review. A three is a perfectly acceptable review, but it had some flaws. A four is great, but it didn’t deliver in some minor way. A five means I couldn’t find anything I didn’t like about the book.

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      3. Even so, a reader should be respectful when posting a negative review. Very seldom have I come across a book that doesn’t have some redeeming qualities, and those could be mentioned as well as the negatives.

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  17. Excellent post, as ever Alison. Constructive criticism is always helpful, even if it comes in the guise of a one star review – at least it’s honest.
    Regarding the one star for the movie … I’ve had said that was very helpful, I love wolves. X

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  18. Great post. I find it so difficult to use the star system, that I rarely post on Amazon, which is no help to authors. I have been trying to persuade fellow bloggers to write critical reviews on my last book, because I am a perpetual student and I’d love some feedback while I write my next one. I also discovered that Amazon had deleted two old 2 or 3 star reviews of my first novel, heaven knows when or why.

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  19. Excellent advice. My own experience of reviewing pre-dates Amazon – I was brought up with the ‘old school’ style of essay-review published in a mainstream newspaper or magazine. I both write them (still) and receive them relative to my own books (also largely published old-school, through the trad system). From this perspective the Amazon-style ‘star’ rating is more akin to a blog comment or Facebook remark than a thoughtful discussion of an author’s work – although some reviews do, indeed, fall into that category. I think you’re quite right that sometimes the one-star reviews are deserved: the advent of easy self-pubbing has also produced an avalanche of sub-standard work that wouldn’t have got through the old-school gatekeeping system. On the other hand, sometimes those derogatory reviews are not fair – and that’s true of the old system too. I think the bottom line is that authors need to learn how to be self-critical and self-aware – which will tell them which reviews to ignore, and which ones teach them something about necessary quality assurance.

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  20. Inevitably, there will be some people who won’t love your book particularly if there are some aspects of it that might not appeal to some. My book (which I hope to release this summer) has some difficult aspects to it…. So I expect it won’t appeal to all. But, nasty reviews are just nasty lazy grammar, etc, is easily remedied, and you’re right it does indie authors no favours.

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    1. Thank you for reading and commenting. You’re right – there will inevitably be readers who just don’t like what you’ve written. The key thing is, I suppose, being able to see which reviews are simple a matter of taste and preference, and which are telling the author something that they really need to take notice of.

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  21. Good, thought-provoking post. For me, as an Indie author, I’m sensitive about how I review a book. If a book is really badly written/edited, to be honest, I don’t read it past the first chapter, so I don’t review it. If a book is written well but I just don’t like the subject matter, or the way a characters is described/displayed, etc., then I give an honest review. I don’t ever want to make a review ‘personal.’ My romantic suspense books have received great reviews, but then one or two ‘readers’ give it a 1 or 2 star review with comments like “I hate this genre.” I don’t find this kind of review helpful, and I wonder why a reader even bothers to write one….:-0

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  22. Oftentimes I see people say that 5-star reviews are potentially dishonest, but I’ve seen books (which I’ve bought despite the presence of these reviews) where the 1-star or 2-star are dishonest. The reviewer outright goes out of their way to make out an author is worse than they are in reality, or worse than accepted mainstream book news sources state of that author.

    Yes, I got 1-star reviews, but to me it was a way to prompt me into action. I’m not one of those authors who just sits on her hands and decides to ignore the reviews. I think Joanna Penn in one of her podcasts said it best. She said (and this is not verbatim): “As an independent author who uses Print on Demand you get what traditional publishing doesn’t get, which is to improve your product.”

    To compare this I’ll point out that my partner owns books that have been traditionally published that are filled with continuity errors, spelling errors, errors in names of characters or errors in grammar. We’ve actually checked the current editions of the same books being sold right now and in a lot of cases these errors still exist.

    That said, the 1-star reviews I got for my book related to grammar in an obvious way. I’ve since corrected this by getting the books past a better editor than I originally used for the book. It’s listed for the book I’ve done this, and I hope future readers look at this before assuming that the 1-star reviews are correct.

    In the Amazon community guidelines Amazon claims a review may question the expertise of the creator of the product. In a way before I had the book re-edited and republished that’s what the reviews I received were doing. Now not so much unless people want to question the credibility of my editor.

    I take Joanna Penn’s approach to heart. I work weekly on finding errors in my books, and ever three weeks I do a republished version of it. The edition you may buy today isn’t the same as what was on the website months ago.

    But when you don’t get many sales and are a brandnew author without any income of her own outside writing it’s a catch 22 situation whether to write and just put the work out there “as is” or to try to find a way to get it edited. Well, when faced with that catch 22 situations an author can end up making mistakes, like I did, and I freely admit I made a mistake by choosing editor that I used.

    I couldn’t get the money together to pay top dollar for the editing, and it was when I was distraught my partner stepped in, told me to find an editor and he’d pay. Yes, every author I know personally tells me I made wrong choices but until my sales equal at least the cost of paying for geting 50k of story edited each month I’m stuck with essentially needing to get my partner to pay and he’s the sole breadwinner here and he’s got all the bills to pay. Another catch 22 there…

    If sales go up I can afford editing. I can only get sales if edited well. I can only get edited well if I got sales. I can only get sales if edited well…errr broken record there. I think that’s the situation with most authors and there’s a Masterclass advert where the words are “being a writer is the only job you don’t get hired for”. Well, if that’s the case then allow people who write, even those who make mistakes at the beginning of their career, a chance to grow. If you start a job in sales you don’t start out as the regional manager for a store, you’d often start as a cashier or whatever first and work your way up with training. If you study law you don’t end up in that $300K job straight out of university but start perhaps as a paralegal or similar.

    I take it a step further about reviews. A random car manufacturer makes a car. The car has a mechanical fault which could cause the car driver to question the expertise of the car manufacturer if I take what I said about Amazon community guidelines as set in stone. Now the car manufacturer gets the car redone, the mechanical fault disappears, but are we always going to accept the reasoning that the car is bad because ***originally*** there was the fault. No! We say that the new version of the car is better, that it has been fixed, that the product was improved.

    In essence when I got my book edited by the professional editor I use that’s what happened to my book. It got improved. The only ever criticism I got from the 1-stars was that the grammar was bad. If grammar equals the mechanical fault in the car example then the grammar was fixed, the product was improved (and keeps being checked to improve even more). And this latter is in line with what Joanna Penn said in her podcast as quoted non-verbatim above.

    Recently I improved the appearance of the e-book. Tomorrow and the day after I’m doing the same with the paperback. At the same time when I did the cover for the e-book I updated the improvements to the interior and as I’ve since done more both paperback and e-book will get this process tomorrow and the day after.

    To me there’s two reasons why reviews could exist. One is the technical side of writing and the other is the enjoyment of it as a product. But if a person reads only the first 5 pages that doesn’t mean they know if the whole book is good. It’s like looking at a car on the street and glancing through the window and saying “this is a bad car” when you haven’t been in one at least as a passenger.

    My view of the rating system is that it’s too open to abuse. Not just from the viewpoint of what I’ve seen dubbed as “people buying 5-star ratings from friends/family” but also on the other end where there may be readers who see a new author in the genre of THEIR favourite author as competition to their author and immediately will tear down that new author…yes seen a few reviews, all as 1-star, that say something like “you don’t write like so and so author” and NO we don’t all write like we’re the next J.K. Rowling or James Patterson. But at least James Patterson in his Masterclass says to write the best you can and that over time you WILL improve if you listen to advice about writing and so on (which is what I did).

    I don’t ignore my reviews from a motivational viewpoint. The 1-star reviews is what prompts me to keep improving my product. But I DO ignore them from a technical standpoint because after an improvement is made, is a review that says that the grammar is bad STILL valid as a review. It was possibly posted to “question the expertise” relating to the product, but when ANY of you receives a 1-star review and it dubs your story as bad because of grammar, spelling or whatever, the moment you republish you actually put pressure on the editor because their other customers can read reviews on Amazon too and they may now start questioning whether their work was as good as they claim it to be.

    For example, and this just plucked from the air, if James Patterson got a 1-star review with the same sort of text as I got on my reviews and he wasn’t as famous as he is now maybe he and the editor he used will be questioned about the qualitty of editing because of what was said. The reviews can be wrong in the “questioning the expertise” kind of way in a two-way street kind of way. We, as authors could and SHOULD, question also the motives and expertise of those leaving the reviews.

    That’s why you PAY for editorial reviews because their focus is on your story telling ability as well as whether you put a comma in the right place in a sentence. But paid services want to show their expertise as reviewers which is what lacks with those who “just review”, except perhaps if the review comes from another author or from a commercial blogger, but in my view reviews from authors or commercial bloggers should also go into the Editorial Review section (or quoted like you see happen when someone has Stephen King saying something about a book and I often wonder who you can get that happen).

    Okay, I’ll end my reply with something that MAY feel controversial but it’s something I find so important I even sent in to Amazon and the response I received from the person replying to me was “I forwarded this to the appropriate team that reviews how we do our review policy” and all that blah-blah. Anyway, this is what I suggested. I suggested this in light of the spate of reviews being taken down AND in light of people posting about e-books being returned AFTER 100% read. Here goes…

    First part of the ability to review comes active when you’ve read at least 25% of the book and consists of the ability to leave a star rating. Linked to this you’d have two weeks after purchase but BEFORE having read 10% of the book to ask for a refund for the book. My reasoning is that you can read the “LOOK INSIDE” to see if the book is one you’d enjoy, and if you see things like spelling errors or grammar mistakes in the book using LOOK INSIDE then don’t buy the book. (the “two week” period was calculated based on what a website I had found a while back, stated as the average reading speed, and I summised that you can read 10% of an average book in two weeks.

    As the Kindle usage is linked into your Amazon account the system would KNOW when you reach the 25% mark. Amazon could add a small line on the bar that shows reading progress to show how far to read before reaching 25%. When you reach this you car score between 1 and 5 as a rating for the book.

    The second book comes when you’ve read the 75% mark.When you’ve gotten this far into the book you should know if the story is good or bad and you can tell other readers what’s good or bad about the story. I suggested two parts for this. One box to give a positive note about the book and another showing what is negative. Splitting this up will force readers to be more cautious with what they say. They could say, as an example, that the story had good humour as a positive point, and say as a negative point that it gets repetitive after a time. I believe that this system would be essential because nothing is ever entirely negative or entirely positive. If I combine the reviews I got in this explanation, one says it’s a great story, two say the grammar is bad. The one that says it’s a great story doesn’t say if they saw anything negative, but the two saying about the grammar never mention anything about whether the story was good or bad. I suggested a short 50-75 word review is good for being posted at the 75% point of the book. But once the whole book is read the ability to write a long review unlocks.

    Now I’ll use another Amazon site as example: imdb.com

    It allows for a rating of up to ten stars. Their reviewing system goes by these rules that are somewhat different from Amazon community guidelines: http://www.imdb.com/help/show_leaf?commentsguidelines

    I’ll highlight a bit:

    “Your reviews should focus on the title’s content and context. The best reviews include not only whether you liked or disliked a movie or TV-series, but also why. Feel free to mention other titles you consider similar and how this one rates in comparison to them. Reviews that are not specific to the title will not be posted on our site. Please write in English only and note that we do not support HTML mark-up within the reviews.”

    Note the part that says “not only whether you liked or disliked a movie or TV-series, but also why” and that’s what is missing in the Amazon review system. A person will post why they liked as book or why they disliked it, but not always both at the same time. It’s not enough to say you dislike it because the grammar is bad or that you don’t like the genre, but SOMETHING prompted you to get the book. At least be courteous and TELL what prompted you to buy the book on that SOMETHING…okay?

    (Sorry for the long response. I had a lot to say…) 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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