Theo Rogers turns the issue in his book “How to Get Good Reviews on Amazon” on its head and explains why indie authors should also welcome occasional bad reviews.
Why Bad Reviews Can Be Good for Self-published Authors
Everyone gets bad reviews. Yes, everyone. Pick the books you consider the greatest works of literary genius ever written and check them out on Amazon or Goodreads. I’ll guarantee that each and every one got some absolute stinkers. Now pick the greatest commercial successes you can think of. Once again, the same applies. Everybody gets them.
In fact, when a book has nothing but five-star raves, it’s generally a sign that the fix is in: that someone has stacked the deck with phoney reviews that were either bought and paid for, or written by friends and family. So much so that nowadays even the more sophisticated shills know they need place a few carefully constructed, mildly critical reviews as well.
Once real reviews start arriving in any number, you’re guaranteed to get at least a few by people who didn’t like what they read. If you can write a book that literally nobody hates, then frankly, you should be put in a lab and studied.
Of course you don’t want bad reviews to dominate. But your book’s page on Amazon or Goodreads looks a whole lot more… honest with at least a few less than stellar ratings or reviews.
Why Abusive Trolls Are Not All Bad News
Given that you’re going to get bad reviews eventually, and you may even need a few to keep your page looking honest, what kind of bad reviews do you want? Would you want polite, considered, and meticulously argued one-star eviscerations of your work that read as if they were written by professional critics? Or deranged and abusive rants?
Well Holy Hachette jobs, Batman: you tell me which you think will be more credible with readers, and ultimately do your sales more damage!
Why Your Should Not Take Bad Reviews Personally
The best advice I ever got about handling some of the lunacy posted on the internet was given to me by a good friend who happens to be both a top 1,000 reviewer on Amazon, and a psychiatric nurse in real life. What she said to me was this:
“Always remember that you could be arguing with a ten year old. Literally.”
And even if you’re not… C’mon. You wouldn’t try to reason with a total stranger ranting and raving on a street corner, now would you? (Or would you..?) You wouldn’t? Good. So why on Earth would you try it in an online forum?
Why Arguing With Negative Reviewers Never Helps
Margaret Thatcher famously said “Europe was created by history. America was created by philosophy”.
Unfortunately, the current divide between authors and online reviewers has been created by some pretty nasty history. If you do take on your critics, you have to understand that at this moment in time, your actions will be seen in the light of the actions of some authors who have truly gone off the deep end after receiving nothing more than a bad review.
No real reviewer thinks of themselves as “anti-author”. But reviewers do by and large believe that the book was the author’s chance to have their say. Post publication, it’s time to let readers have their own discussion.
Whether you agree with this belief or not, on a purely practical level, arguing with your critics does not work. It’s often been said that our books are like our children. I agree. Unfortunately one implication of this is that if your book ever does get into trouble, having the author leap to its defence is about as impressive as a character reference from your mum.
Perhaps the most important way in which our books are like our children is that we can’t fight all their battles for them. However much we might want to.
Sometimes we need to let go and allow them to fight their own battles. Find their own champions. People who love them not because they’re their children, but simply for what they are.
OVER TO YOU What's your take on bad reviews? How do you deal with them? Join the conversation via the comments box!