Your favorite authors and your least favorite authors have one thing in common. They all want reviews.
Because reviews, even bad ones, show social proof that the author writing the book is the real deal.
Studies show that readers will buy a book with all BAD reviews before they will buy one with NO reviews. Isn’t it interesting how our minds work? To borrow wisdom from a cliche:
Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.
Authors, of course, want great reviews. Our hearts sing at the 5 stars and plummet at the 1 star. We want people to love our work, and we hope that our efforts have achieved a product you enjoy. But all those stars mean people are reading our books, and ultimately, that’s want we want — our stories shared with the world.
So what happens when an author asks for an honest review and gets a bad one?
It depends on the author, naturally.
After the initial disappointment (and sometimes pain, if the review is vicious), I try to get some perspective and take the following steps:
- Do they have a point? I know I’m not perfect, and maybe they are sharing a blind spot I have. Maybe there is a skill or technique I need to learn.
- Am I being honest with myself? If I don’t believe they have a point, then I turn to my trusted Beta Readers. They love me enough to tell me the hard truth.
- Are they a troll? If my Betas agree with me that the person is wrong, then I look at reviews they’ve done on other books. Some people are never happy, and it helps to know I’m not the only person they skewered.
- Are they my reader? If the reviewer isn’t a troll, then I have to come to terms that they simply weren’t my target audience. Not every writer is for every reader, and as much as I hate to disappoint anyone, I have to come to the realization that I’m not the writer for that person.
But no matter how much I want to, I never EVER engage with the low reviews. There is nothing I can say or do that will make the situation better. If I argue with them, it makes me look bad. If I’m nice, it makes me look like I’m brown-nosing to get them to like me and change their rating.
What is the moral of this story?
Authors want your honest reviews. We know you might give us a bad one, and that’s OK. A professional will accept your opinion and respect you for sharing it.
So, please review my books (and the other authors you read).