Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Day 73...How to Handle a Bad Review




Welcome to Day 73...

I'm taking a little detour today because I didn't want to let another week pass without sharing a new How To...post with you.


As far as the Writing Challenge, I'm hoping to get some editing in later and I'll update you on that tomorrow.


For now...on to...How to Handle a Bad Review...


My dad always said there were 3 things in life that were inevitable…Taxes, Change, and Death. Well if you’re a writer, you can add a 4th inevitable event…a bad review.


If you've been reading along in both my 365 Days of Writing Marketing & E-Publishing and my Synchronicity blog posts, you know I hit some bumps in the road on my first few releases. My excitement about wanting to get the books "out there" caused me to overlook the importance of editing before I hit the switch to get the titles published.


Those poorly editing first editions meant some tough, but justifiable bad reviews...


"To be honest there were just too many spelling, grammatical and structural errors for me to finish reading the book - I ended up sending it back for a refund. This is a shame because it really had potential - but much more editing and at least another draft needed to be done in order to bring it up to the level that it should be."


"This is my first review on Amazon, but I felt compelled to critique this book. I liked the story, the characters, but the editing was horrible. It read like a first draft--spelling errors, grammar mistakes, typos, etc. It's obvious that no proofreading was done before publishing. That's a shame because the author wrote a nice sweet first novel. I would read her again but getting through this book was painful."

Painful?  Trust me, that was not the end result I was going for.


But it all wasn't bad.  Along with those not so great reviews came these...


A VERY SUSPENSEFUL READ, a romantic story line that was first rate. Kept me on the edge of my seat.

THE TITLE SAYS IT ALL. I LOVED IT. VERY ROMANTIC. I CAN'T WAIT FOR MORE BY THIS AUTHOR!!!! KEEP THEM COMING MAGGIE!!!


I have read this author's other books and loved them, so far this is my favorite. GREAT characters, fast paced and very engrossing. Read the book in one sitting. Highly recommend if you like action and romance. Can't wait until next one! Hurry up Ms. Collins.


Great book from the title to the end

Had everything I live in a good book . So glad I found a new author.

At the end of the day, the good reviews have far out weighed the bad and I'm very proud of my 4 plus star ratings on both Amazon.com and Goodreads. But truthfully I couldn't ignore the negative reviews and neither should you.
So how do you handle it? Well here's some important points to keep in mind...
1. No One is Immune to a Bad, or Even Scathing Review
Case in point, the best-selling book The Goldfinch. The novel won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction, was called the "it' novel of the year, sold millions of copies in a matter of months and is expected to be optioned for movie or television series. But all wasn't well in author Donna Tartt's world. In fact she received some scathing reviews from the literary world - one critic said "it's tone and and language and story belonged in children's literature". The London Sunday Times called The Goldfinch "a turkey".
And that's not all...
The July 2014 edition of Vanity Fair magazine had a great article on the ugly buzz surrounding The Goldfinch as well as some other literary classics...
"Kind of monotonous,” the same paper said about Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. “He should’ve cut out a lot about these jerks and all at that crumby school.”
“An absurd story,” announced The Saturday Review of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, while the New York Herald Tribune declared it “a book of the season only.”
So...keep in mind you're not alone.  In fact you're in good company.  Everyone, including literary masters, get bad reviews.
2.  Look for Patterns and Fix What is Wrong
For me, the negative reviews really revolved around the lapse in editing.  But instead of just ignoring those comments I got busy.  I went back through the books, contracted with an outside editor, reviewed and updated her edits and then completed new uploads to Kindle and Create Space.  It took a ton of time and a bit of money.  But if I'm not going to do this right, why bother doing it at all?

3.  Avoid Making the Same Mistake Again

Once I knew what was wrong, it was critical for me to not make the same mistake again. That meant changing my process going forward.  Because simply identifying a problem isn't enough.  Do whatever it takes - time, money to ensure it doesn't happen again.

4.  Redeem Yourself Where and When You Can

I honestly felt bad that some of my readers felt disappointed in my books.  So not only did I fix the problem, I let my readers know I heard them and I was changing how I completed my edits.  In fact, I posted this message on my author profile page on Amazon.com

**An Important Message to All My Readers...

**Thanks so much for all your comments and reviews. I wanted to let you know that the editing issues have been reviewed and the editions have been updated.
Thanks again for your all continued support. Happy Reading! Maggie **

Stay connected to your readers and let them know they matter to you.

5. Stay True to Who You Are
Bad reviews aren't a reason to switch genres or to stop writing altogether. Look at the bigger picture and try seeing those negative reviews as constructive criticism instead of a personal affront. Keep striving to be a better write and story teller. For me, I write romantic suspense because I love romantic suspense and I know millions of other readers do to.  The negative reviews were tough to swallow but the positive ones validated everything I know to be true about my writing journey.  So stay true to who you are.

6.  The Truth is...Not Everyone is Going to Like Your Books

It's a simple fact - everyone has particular likes and dislikes.  That's what makes us all unique.  You just have to get over the fact that not everyone will like your book and they might want to share that opinion with others in the form of a negative comment.

Here's a caption from one review I received...

"I found the whole thing lacked credibility."

Frankly, this review didn't bother me so much.  Because while I don't want to go too far into the realm of unbelievable, I do like the idea of my readers being able to escape...into a Colombian jungle Be Still My Breath or on a billionaire's private island One Step Closer or into the world of television news reporting Now You See Me or inside the exclusive world of a Gold Coast country club Deadly Shadows 


I've read enough romantic suspense novels to know what elements and style I like.  Now as I write my own stories and get some traction on sales and positive reviews, I know what my readers like and expect.  And I want to meet and exceed those expectations.  Every time.  

My goals when writing are that when my readers are reading the book, it's so good they don't want to put it down and when they're finally finished, they wished it didn't end.

7.  Keep an Eye Out for Bad Fake Reviews

Yes this happens, and if you find yourself a target, you have two avenues of recourse. First...contact the review site to report those reviews.  If you can submit proof that the reviews are coming from competitors or are a personal attack, you may be able to get them removed.  And here's your second option...

8.  Encourage Good Reviews

I've had readers reach out to me via Goodreads and Facebook with incredibly kind things to say about my books and I've had friends and friends of friends tell me how much they enjoyed my novels.  In each case I've asked them to rate the book on Amazon.com and Goodreads.  Don't forget to ASK for a review.  BTW...I have the same request on my website.

Finally...

9.  Be Calm

I like the saying Be Calm & Carry On...which is exactly what you need to do.  Fix what's broken and then get back to the computer and write your heart out - keeping in mind of course any lessons you learned.

Here are some more thoughts about handling bad reviews...

http://urbanfictionnews.com/what-to-do-after-a-negative-book-review/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/suwcharmananderson/2012/08/28/fake-reviews-amazons-rotten-core/

http://www.bookdaily.com/authorresource/blog/post/1544553

And finally, Today's Takeaway Lesson...


"Be Calm & Carry On..."  

Here's to Being All In,

Maggie 

Follow me on Twitter @AuthorMaggie #busywriterslife
Visit my website @ www.maggiecollins.net
Like me on Facebook Maggie Collins




365 Days & Counting...

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