This has been my season of new releases. Between November and December I’ve had three books out and there’s been a lot of chatter about this or that making a big difference in sales. How one thing will accelerate it while another would tank.
Reviews are arguably one of the top things authors obsess over whenever we get a new book. For one, it’s the equivalent of a yearly evaluation. It lets us know how well we’ve performed, if readers are happy. So of course we want to see good reviews. We all like to hear we are great and wonderful and pretty and entertaining–oh yeah, and the book’s pretty good, too. I’m kidding, we all want people to read and love our books as much as we do.
There’s just one problem.
Not everyone is going to like it. There is no one thing everyone you meet will like. Even cheese. There are odd people in this world who aren’t fans of cheese. I’m telling you the truth. It’s not a myth.
Good reviews can sway a reader into purchasing at a glance. They think the blurb is good, it has a lot of 4 and 5 star reviews–so what’s the harm in one-clicking that title? Chances are they’ll enjoy it.
But what about the more discerning readers out there?
In recent years there have been a number of scams employed to help some books and authors make it to the top. Among these is the purchase of good reviews to bloat a book’s rating. There is now a contingent of readers who look at a potential title, see a huge number of 5 star reviews and smell something rotten in the air.
I know that to many authors, a one or two star review feels like a kick to the kidney. No, we don’t like to hear that someone didn’t like our book, was offended by our writing or whatever the reason it didn’t resonate with them. That said–to another potential buyer, they see a range of reviews across the board. Reading a sampling can inform someone if there could be content that they won’t like. For example, I don’t read rape books, things with excessive domestic abuse or adultery because those are hot button topics for me.
Sometimes when I go to buy something, I totally ignore the glowing reviews in favor of reading the worst-case-scenario instead. There have been instances where those bad reviews kicked me into buying something.
All I’m saying is that bad reviews aren’t all that bad. Keep it in perspective that reviews are not personal attacks majority of the time, and they aren’t from professionals.