Whether you’re self published or traditional published; bad reviews are a fact of life for authors. When you get a bad review it can sometimes feel like some has pushed a sword through your heart and the pain can put you off from writing for days, weeks or even longer. This can be even more troubling if you get a terrible review from a review site / blog.
So what do we do as authors? Do we throw the proverbial toy out the pram? Some reviews would say that we already do that. And to be honest we are all more professional than that.
I know that when I was growing up my mother always told me – “ignore them and they eventually go away”. Well I’m afraid mum, you were wrong. Unlike the Ostrich (which surprisingly doesn’t bury its head in the sand); burying our head in the sand isn’t going to help us. People will either pick up on the comments or use them to torture us. And there is no target more tempting than a backside sticking up in the air when the owners head is buried in the sand.
So we could ask to have the article removed. Although Amazon, smashwords, and other retailers won’t do this without just cause – and no our egos does not count as such – review sites might. However has anyone ever considered the benefit from bad reviews? Well here are three reasons why you might just want to keep those bad reviews around.
1. It points out where your writing needs improvement.
So your readers say that your book is full of grammar and spelling mistakes? Perhaps your readers say the characters are flat and bore them to tears? Should you throw the preverbal toy out of the pram? Why not instead remove all the “I hate this book” or the “the writer is crappy” remarks and break it down into some bullet points which have some substance – “spelling was not perfect”, “Characterisation was not progressive”. The best part of this method is that you aren’t looking at this from a personal point of view, but from a business point of view. If something is fixable, then fix it and release a new edition, but if not store them in the back of your mind for future releases.
2. It creates book awareness
Think about some famous books out at the moment. The fifty shades of grey has over 4000 reviews at the moment; 32% of them are 1 star reviews and 49% are 3* and below. Yet the book is undoubtedly a commercial success. Why is it such a commercial success? Because it is so controversial that people are buying it just to see what it is like, is it really so good / bad? When I asked my friends and family why they bought it, they all said they wanted to read what all the fuss was about. This is a good example where a bad review is a great thing for the book in question.
Also, if I am looking at any product I look at all the reviews not just one. Does one review say it is bad against five good ones? What does the one bad review say? If the bad review says “I hate this book”, then I tend to ignore it.
3. It creates Author awareness
So you get a bad review for one book, what about the other 3 or 4 you have released? Search engines work in peculiar ways. They don’t care so much as what is on a website; they care more how it is labelled and where it links to. Although I do not understand the exact formula, essentially every link into your author webpage or book page is a plus one for the site on the search engines. Even having that one star review that links to your site can serve some benefit – it could move you up the search engine ladder. If you get enough links to your sites, without spamming of course, then you will surpass the blogger’s or the reviewers’ website and people won’t even know that review has existed. And all they see is the carefully selected ‘glowing’ reviews that you have put on your website.
Good day to all.