In 2018 I released a box set at 99 cents. I wrote my heart out with over 300,000 words of stories I’d held onto for the past 15 years. It was a labor of love and something I’d never imagined coming to fruition. After all, I created the world when I was a teenager and spent years hammering away at world building. Aside from maps I even outlined 3,000 years of history and brought the world to its epic conclusion. Publishing the book felt like giving my heart away and I glowed when people LOVED it, wrote me notes and left reviews expressing how much the story meant to them.
But. As always. There are those who hate everything. A multitude of reviews came pouring in. Some people expressed their issues with the story line which was fair enough–to each their own–but that’s not what got my goat. When people started out and out bashing the story I felt like I was getting a personal slew of hate mail. It crushed my soul and I even toyed with pulling the book off the Amazon store.
I think readers often forget that writers have feelings too. We hurt and bleed and have imperfections along with everyone else, and words can hurt!
[bctt tweet=”Readers often forget that writers have feelings too. We hurt and bleed and have imperfections along with everyone else, and words can hurt! #badreviews #writingcommunity” username=”aford21″]
However, even as I thought about pulling the book I realized I couldn’t because it was making 4-5 figures a month. A month. And I’d never seen jaw-dropping income like that. It felt like I had won the lottery!
I recall crying to my boyfriend (currently my fiancé at the time of this blog post. Woohoo!). Then I decided to get my act together. I read through my reviews and decide what actions I would take. Months later it was a fantastic idea and I certainly see an improvement in my ratings.
1. Editing – reviewers complained about editing. Although it was expensive I had a re-edit. It’s not perfect but it fixed several errors. Editors are imperfect humans too and I’m sure some things were still missed, many issues were fixed.
2. Change the price – selling my box set at 99 cents was awesome for visibility, but I ended up having tons of people who one-clicked to buy just because the price was low. And guess what? Those who did read ended up leaving nasty reviews and even returned the book. So I changed the price to $2.99 and then $4.99. It made all the difference. People who actually want to read the book now buy it and the glowing reviews returned. Of course all the reviews aren’t good but I have a much better pool of readers who aren’t making snap decisions because of price.
[bctt tweet=”Raise the price on your book and gain a much better pool of readers who aren’t making snap decisions because of price. #bookmarketing #writetip” username=”aford21″]
3. Read the good reviews – sometimes I sort my reviews and just read the good ones. It reminds me why I write. And overall I have a higher percentage of positive reviews – however Amazon shows the critical reviews first which is a bit of a bummer. I’d love for them to mix in more positive reviews so readers can get the full picture. And there is a way to do this. I could ask everyone I know to go vote the positive reviews but I also don’t want Amazon to think I’m gaming the system!
4. Focus on improving your writing. I wrote an entire blog post about this. Read it here. But it is important to focus on improvement. My goal is to be better every single time I write. And while I know my older books have issues I’m not going to waste time rewriting them. It was a learning experience and I love my books – so much that I personally read them over and over again. The fact that others enjoy them and I can make a full time income off my books just makes my day.
5. Recognize life is full of ups and downs. Sometimes snarky reviews are such a downer – but I am in control of my attitude and I don’t have to let it ruin my career. Instead I save and savor all of the positive things that are said and dwell on them instead of the negative. But if you can’t handle it, come up with a mindset and process. I try to read all my reviews because it signals to me where I can improve.
[bctt tweet=”Save and savor all of the positive things that are said about your #writing and dwell on them instead of the negative. #badreviews #writingcommunity ” username=”aford21″]
6. Get with a network that can encourage you. I fully realize I am the kind of person who tends to clam up and hide when things go wrong – but having a strong network of support makes all the difference. I’ve found mine on social media (yes, on Facebook) but it’s important to have that! You’ll need the accountability and support especially when things are going wrong and you want to freak out!
There you have it. A few things to do when you get bad reviews. Relax. Take a deep breath. Every single author gets them – even the ones who are always always always on the top of the bestseller list.
Do yourself a favor and let it go. Don’t reach out to the reviewer, but do what you need to do to make changes and let life go on. It will not ruin your career – please keep writing!
Share in the comments below. How do you deal with bad reviews?