Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Did you just receive a bad book review?

Of course we all love receiving great book reviews - but books are very personal and mean different things to different people.  Effect people in different ways.

Some People "LOVE" my paranormal book Paradox - The Angels Are Here, while others, not so much - not at all.  For some, it makes them cry - and that tells me that I have achieved what I set out to do, to touch people's emotions.  People will 'feel' your book, or they won’t. 

And I for one think that is a good thing - that different things affect people in different ways - it is what makes us unique.

The world would be a very boring place if we all liked the same things and all felt the same way.

What do I do if I get a bad review...?  Easy, I pick a really popular Author on Amazon and go read their bad reviews.  This reinforces in me that even the greats get bad reviews from time to time and they are still doing GREAT!  They kept on writing and became even more successful Authors.

Offer your book to bloggers and book reviewers that are happy to give you an honest book review. Trust me, you want the truth. Anything less is worthless. You can learn far more from a bad honest review than you can a great dishonest one.

You need a tough skin, but at the end of the day it is worth it :) A bad review doesn't mean your book is bad, it just means that the wrong person read it! You serve a person that prefers vanilla ice-cream strawberry and the chances are, they aren't going to like it very much. No matter how good it is.

John Locke says something like - Write for the people who love your book, not for the ones that don't.  I for one think that is great advice!  And the last I heard, John is going GREAT with his 99c ebooks on Amazon.  He is one of Amazon's all time best sellers, week after week. 

Go check out John's reviews for his books!  And you will see what I mean.  The man, no matter how popular and successful he is still gets some really BAD reviews.

Yep, I'm a huge John Locke fan yet I have never read any of his Donovan Creed novels.  And probably never will - but John wont care because he has a host of loyal fans that will continue to buy every book he publishes.  

However, I do swear by his $2.99 ebook - How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months!  When John talks - I listen!  Read his book, it will be the best $2.99 you ever spent on a book.  

If you have a friend who is an indie author or who is thinking about becoming one - buy it for them.  They will thank you for it!

So a bad review to me just means, OK, we have different tastes in books.  No big deal.  Some prefer chocolate or strawberry ice-cream, while I prefer vanilla!

My advice is, chin up and keep writing!  Because there are people out there who are going to LOVE your book.

Mark Twain wrote - 

“Sing like no one's listening, love like you've never been hurt, dance like nobody's watching, and live like its heaven on earth.”


Perhaps he should have also added - "write like ..........."  what would you type there?

If you have enjoyed reading this post, chances are one of your friends will too - please forward, twitter or facebook - it just might make someone’s day!

Patti Roberts - Author the Paradox Series (book 1 & 2 - book 3 - 2012 release)
I Believe - free on Amazon, smashwords and other online ebook stores. 
David Oxley - Mirror Image (2012 release)
Andy Alexander - The Gecko Diaries (2012 release)

The Paradox Series Book Trailers

Smashwords - all world wide ebook formats
US - ebook from Amazon
UK - ebook from Amazon
Nook - Barnes & Noble
Paperback - Createspace
Thesaurus Bookstore - Melbourne


  1. Great advice Patti! I love looking through bad reviews for really good books as well. :)

  2. Great advice Patti! Received a bad review from someone who described a totally different book - made the big mistake of 'commenting' - will never, ever, ever do that again! Not that I couldn't 'take it' but at least talk about my book not someone elses. I do think reviews like that need to come down!

  3. thanks for this, Patti. I have yet to get my book reviewed, in fact I'm not sure where to go for this aside from the fantasy group--any ideas? but I have wondered how a bad review would affect me...I appreciate your comments.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Hi Authorinprogress, firstly I recommend that you join goodreads. Fantastic writing arena with a ton of authors and book review bloggers. Offer your book to bloggers that are happy to give you honest book reviews. Trust me, you want the truth. Anything less is worthless. You can learn more from a bad honest review than you can a great dishonest one. You need a tough skin, but at the end of the day it is worth it :) A bad review doesn't mean your book is bad, it just means that the wrong person read it! You serve a person that prefers vanilla icecream strawberry and the chances are, they aren't going to like it very much. No matter how good it is. Patti

  6. Typically I take a "better reaction than indifference" stance. I use a lot of humor and colorful language in my books and I'm well aware that it's not for everyone. However, I'd much rather have someone hate my book than give it a "meh". Don't get me wrong, I always prefer a good review but if I can't get that I'd prefer venom (preferably constructive venom :) over apathy.

  7. I get annoyed only by negative reviews that are illogical or mean-spirited. I received one from a reader of a Kindle short story who gave me one star and called it a "ripoff." Why? Because the reviewer paid 99 cents for a "book" and "only" received a short story. It was clearly marked as a short story in the Kindle store description. Thanks to that reviewer's bit of misguided outrage my story's aggregate reviews went down. Another reviewer couldn't get past four typos in my novel's paperback edition--she said it totally "ruined" the reading experience. Yes, there should be no mistakes if at all possible, but I'm yet to read one book--indie or even traditionally published--that's free of errors, typos or some sort of mistake. I've hired a better editor for my next book, but that review still annoys me because I think it was at best too picky and at worst just plain mean. If the reader didn't dig the story, fine--give me an honest opinion. Didn't think the characters worked? Cool, review it accordingly. But bad reviews for a reader's failure to understand the difference between a short story and a novel? Come on. A few (four) typos? No excuse for typos, but was it really enough to ruin the reading experience? Not for anyone else who read it.

  8. Hi Patti my author friend from down under. =) OK Here's my take on bad reviews and I'll give it to you from a readers perspective because I think this will comfort many authors.

    As a reader I don't read the 5 or 1 star reviews when I'm investigating a book I may like to read. Most of them are either vindictive people who need some joy in their lives or they are relatives and friends who are thrilled they know an author personally.

    I expect to see 1 star ratings from books that are actually being read. This is a good thing. That means your book is getting out into the public. Not everyone is going to like your style of writing and you may even find a critique or two that will help you grow as a writer. Dismiss the rest of the garbage.

    The reviews that I grow the most from as an author are the 2-4 star ratings. These will usually tell you why they liked or didn't like your book while giving you sound reasoning.

    My encouragement is to grow from these reviews and know that most level headed readers can tell when a review is attempting to be vindictive or mean spirited. We don't pay attention to those. You can relax. =)

    Daniel L Carter
    Author of The G-6 Chronicles

  9. So true J.A. Greenwood. There certainly are a few mean spirited people out there that like to play God when it comes to writing book reviews. But you know what, maybe that is all they have? So who are we to take that away from them :)

  10. Hi, Patti

    As promised, I read and I have something to say. Yes, you want honest reviews and you want those from actual readers, not other indie authors who agreed to swap reads, an upcoming practice that will deepen the stigma already attached to self-publishing.
    You are also correct with taking it on the chin, however, if you receive many negative reviews - more than positive ones - you should consider to unpublish the book, rework it and try it again, perhaps under a different name. It's not always the reader, there's a lot of crap out there.

  11. Hi Patti!

    This is a good topic. Yes, bad reviews are hard to read, but I know potential buyers look at them to gain balance from all the friends and family glowing reviews.

  12. Sometimes I think that bad reviews can come from people not reading the books tags properly or at all. Some don't read the sample chapter and then they buy the book and find out it's something which they weren't expecting. I'm not talking from personal experience here but I know a few people who have said this in the past. I don't think anyone should give a bad review unless they expect to like the book and haven't bought it 'blind.'

  13. I keep the nice fan letters to re-read after a bad review. :)

  14. If the review is clearly malicious I track them down and set fire to their home. I find that makes me feel much better.....

  15. Stephen Leather - that is just way too funny! :))) Patti

  16. Mark Twain wrote -
    “Sing like no one’s listening, love like you’ve never been hurt, dance like nobody’s watching, and live like its heaven on earth.”

    Perhaps he should have also added – “write like .......”

  17. Exactly. I'm a reviewer, not an author, and I try not to even read/review books that don't sound interesting to me. Why would I give a book a negative review just because I don't care for a particular genre? Of course, occasionally, I end up with a book that I don't care much for, but I don't post many negative reviews. I know authors work hard and put a lot into their work, and it can be disheartening to see a reader blast your book.
    BTW, if any authors here are looking for reviewers, feel free to contact me. Stephen, I can guarantee a positive review. I like the non-crispy version of my house. ;-)

  18. Great post - every bit of feedback is a gift - helping you to identify your market or improve your writing. Give me 20 bad reviews over 5 good ones every time - for times the useful information. It's the there's no such thing as bad publicity theory.

  19. I'm with Amanda I review and while I hate giving bad reviews the reality is that I will not like every book I come across. One shouldn't be mean spirited and do a review like what has been mentioned above, I've even seen reviews where they blasted away as they had issues with delivery and shipment of the book, all I kept thinking was you know you just screwed the author over right. Not liking the book is one thing but you really do have to think about it's affects. I try and do that with my reviews though yes I have blasted away at a book before lord did the author tell me off.
    It changed the way I review, yes I still will mention if I don't like a book but I try to take the author and my reviews affects into consideration. Also now when I love a book I sing it's praises everywhere I can as I know how much it matters.

  20. This is just the article I needed to see at just the right time. Thanks so much for writing it! I agree about John Locke, loved his book for writers.

  21. WEll said Daniel!!

    tag tweets with #ficstory for more exposure

  22. I hate when the reviewer fixates on things like it not being perfectly polished when they received an ARC. That's kinda the point of an ARC... it's not prefect yet but they are letting the story be read early. The review should then be on the story only. Just my $0.02 worth of fussin', lol.

  23. I recently received not quite a bad review, but one that wasn't altogether stellar. I just let it go knowing I had many other better reviews to promote.
    Stephen Brayton

  24. Great advice :)
    As a book reviewer I can whole-heartedly back you on this. If a reviewer gives an honest review, whether good or bad, be thankful because they have had enough respect for you to do so, and believe me, it's hard to give honest critique on a book because you do feel bad about it.. that's why I personally do my best to mix my reviews up a bit, give the good with the bad and end on a recommendation. And if you receive a bad review, the kind that is just downright nasty without being at all constructive, then it's not worthwhile to pay attention because you will gain nothing from it. Keep writing if it is what you love!!

  25. Great post. I find it terribly hard to write negative book reviews, and always strive to find the good in what doesn't work for me. But so often I'll love a book that other people loathe, and vice-versa. Often it's entirely down to taste. But that said, book reviewers aren't in it to attack writers--we're book lovers through and through, and our suggestions are hopefully of use to authors when it comes to reflecting on and improving their work. :)

  26. Great advice, thanks for sharing.

  27. It's kind of sad that we tend to focus more on the negative reviews rather than the positive ones. Maybe that comes from our own self-doubt making us believe that a bad review holds more credence than a good one. Perhaps it is our inbred desire to try and please everyone, which we all know is impossible, no matter how hard we try. However, try, we do, and as long as a negative review motivates us to keep trying, keep writing, and not give up, then the 'bad review', has to be credited for making us better writers. So anyway you look at it, bad isn't necessarily bad after all. Keep writing! After all, any review is better than no reviews!

  28. Where can we read your book? We'll be pleased to da a review for you. No author should go through life without a good fresh review every once in awhile

  29. I think you have to take the bad reviews with a grain of salt.All we can do is write the best story we can.
    Patti, LOL I also have gone to one of the fabulous, famous writers and read their 1 star reviews. People will love you and people will hate you no matter how famous you are.
    I get upset when people tell me how I should have written 'my' story...

  30. After seeing all the no-text reviews on B&N, I just stopped checking. I don't care how many stars you give me if you don't explain why you loved it or hated it.
    As for text reviews... thank you for your input, whatever it was. I don't comment on reviews ever. Yes, I read them, but I decided not to comment on them.
    Besides only Smashwords sends an e-mail when someone reviews my books. I don't have time to check Amazon or other sites (or even Goodreads, unless the reviewer is a friend and I see it in his/her newsfeed), hey, I have the next book to write! :-)

  31. I think Mark Twain would have said "write like no one will read it".
    I'm a reader and reviewer and I my review format is to give what I found Hot and Not So Hot in a book and give the reasoning behind it. I try my best but will not go out of my way to find one or the other. As a reader who has bought a book you expect your money's worth for what you paid. I have a kinda negative review for my favourite author Neil Gaiman because for me Smoke & Mirrors was just not to his caliber of writing. How he feels about it is really not something I’m too concerned about as long as my review is respectful and honest.
    I spend a lot of money on his books in every version. Some of them I have in audio ebook and hardcover (example) TheGraveyard Book I have in two hardcopy versions because of ilustrations being different, in eBook and in audio. So you see, I don't expect to spend a $100 dollars on a book of his only to find editorial issues and uninteresting story lines.
    If it’s an arc then that's a different story. If the book was $ .99 cent I still expect a good read if it’s in my genre. Cheaper price shouldn't mean cheaper quality because that is what will either send me back to buy more or not go back at all. Case in point is self pubbed author J.L Campbell, I got this author on a .99c book but there is nothing of hers that I will not read, She is such a fabulous writer both in story telling and book editing (her books are meticulous). I've read and reviewed most of her books.
    So I think writers should look the non malicious reviews as part of a performance evaluation they would undertake in a normal job. If in looking at your book objectively you and your team really cannot see merit redence in whatever a bad review says then by all means ignore it. But if you can and choose to ignore it because your ego is too fragile then remember that as one who ignores recommendations of a performance review, your books may never get the desired promotion because readers think their time and money is precious to them, no matter the price.
    Ok this is just too long an opinion. SORRY

  32. I have four published children's books and I get good and bad reviews. But guess what? After a bad review, I seem to get more sales. Teehee. Maybe other readers want to find out why it's so bad, or it's my fans rebelling. I don't know why. All reviews are publicity, though the bad reviews can smart sometimes. Readers either love or hate my stories as my characters are mischievous and I model them after kids with ADHD, tourettes, and OCD sometimes, though I don't say so in the stories. But so far I haven't had a child reader dislike my stories. I get fan male from them telling me how much they love them.

    I don't mind getting bad reviews if the person is being honest,it can help sometimes, but I've seen some reviews on a website that are so long and mean to the author that you could turn them into a novel, plus they give spoilers. Authors have to stick to rules and suck it up, but some reviewers are allowed to say what they like with no thought or compassion at all, not even saying one positive thing. I saw this recently to a new author, who is probably devastated. Plus a lot of the time its free books they are reviewing and those authors have put years of work into it. Bad reviews are fine, but they could at least give some positive comment because if they're too mean it makes the author or authors not want to offer free books to a particular group.

  33. The fact is (as you said) people are different and everyone is entitled to an opinion. That said there are valid bad reviews and there are bad reviews that can come across as spite. I know I'm not the first commentor to mention those but the good thing is that (mostly) its pretty easy to tell the difference.

    Bad reviews are awesome, as they show you a side of your work that you may not see without them. It gives you perspective which as an author is invaluable.

    In your post you use the phrase "the wrong person" which I think isn't quite right. If a person read my book I wouldn't think of them as "the wrong person" perhaps the synopsis wasn't clear enough, perhaps their friends don't know them well enough... whatever... in my view there is no wrong person there's just a person who didn't like my work. But importantly they didn't like enough to feel compelled to say something about it.

    Me, if I am taking a chance on an author or a genre I've never read before it would take a great depth of feeling for me to write a review that essentially warned people away from it. That is an emotional connection with your audience that is powerful. If someone cares enough to write a bad review that is a powerful incentive to take their feedback seriously (unless its just malicious).

    I commend you on discussing this subject as it can be a minefield.

  34. I like the philosophy of any publicity is good, definitely takes the sting out of it.

  35. I received two 1* ratings for my free eShort 'Feeding the Father' (just below a 4*) which had apparently put off one of the ladies reading my writing for life. I thought it was hilarious and clicked the 'like' button.

    1. It certainly does pay to have a sense of humor for such things doesn't it. Each to their own and all that! Even the greats get horrible reviews at times. thank you for leaving your comment :) Patti

  36. I never received a bad review. Why? Because there's no such thing as a bad review, but I received two negative (two stars) reviews. In both cases, I didn't hit the nerve, both said 'Not for me'.

    Personally, I think authors pay far too much attention to the reviews, instead of accepting that they can't please everyone. Unless readers (rightly) rip apart your novel for terrible writing, badly developed characters or plot, you (us authors) should shrug it off.

  37. Patti, I had not seen this post when I wrote about the same topic for a guest blog. (Found this via Twitter.) Funny thing is, I said much of the same things as you!


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