Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble and other self-publishing sources have opened the door to all kinds of writers out there. Whenever you publish a book and have it read by hungry, avid readers, you feel an indescribable sense of joy and accomplishment in your gut.
Published authors also receive praise for their works through these sources every now and then, highlighting everything they loved about it.
From time to time, though, your book may also receive an average or poor book review. When this occurs, the negative comment really seems like a stain that just refuses to go away.
How to Handle Poor Poor Reviews:
Poor reviews are practically inevitable– this is the first thing you must understand. It is simply impossible to satisfy everyone, as every reader has their own opinions and tastes. So, how do you cope with negative feedback? The answer generally depends on the review’s details.
There are at least two types of reviews out there. Sometimes people express seemingly personal grudges against the writer or pass poor judgment over the book’s overall content. Other times the review is valid, factual and educated, offering various points of interest and constructive criticism along the way.
The Former Review Type:
The first type refers to unwarranted comments or things that should not justify the amount of negativity or star-rating given. For example, a reader may leave a distasteful review merely because the writer included content that he or she did not appreciate for personal reasons. These may include biblical quotations in a science fiction story or strong (yet valid) opinions about any given subject.
Other times, readers leave a poor review because they failed to fully read the book’s description and missed out on important warnings, leaving them frustrated or offended after making the purchase.
When it comes to dealing with comments, you should immediately address these problems by making your book’s description clearer or including a forewarning about sections that may ruffle people’s feathers. People generally pay close attention to the first page or two, so why not include a big, bold warning there?
This could potentially shield you from receiving future reviews based on similar (and unfair) situations. While you may still receive other types of negative comments, at least you can rest assured that your book is now free of those mistakes, thus reducing the total amount of negative feedback. Note, however, that sometimes there is nothing you can do about improving your book if the review is pointless, baseless and/or somewhat personal.
The Latter Review Type:
The same principle heavily applies to the latter type, where a reader points out important things such as frequent misspellings, outdated information, lack of character development among other observations.
The important thing here is to take action, and make it fast. Remember, your book is available to millions of vocal and loyal readers; every minute your book’s flaws remain published, this provides them with another chance to voice their negative opinions.
Work with the Reviewer:
Note that you can’t remove a review once posted. Websites such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble only remove obscene or otherwise offensive reviews. Aside from these factors, everyone has the right to state their opinion, and this is something that ebook distribution venues highly support. If you are already into Kindle publishing, this is likely something you will have to face sooner or later.
Depending on the review, however, you may choose to contact the reader directly and work with him/her to help you offer a better experience to future customers. Many of these reviewers publicly disclose their contact information, which is found by clicking on their name through the main review page.
It goes without saying, but you should always remain calm, cordial and fully professional when interacting with the person in question. Kindly ask what exactly needs to be added or improved upon (assuming the book review was not clear enough) and make the appropriate changes as necessary.
Once finished, kindly inform him/her of all changes and kindly ask him to modify his review. Believe it or not, negative reviewers are not all evil and frustrated; in many cases people will happily change their negative response into a positive one because of your efforts.
Additionally, they will highly appreciate that their voice was heard and taken seriously.
Never reply publicly to the reviewer via the main product review page. This could potentially turn into a back-and-forth discussion or argument, bringing the negative review to the spotlight (we’re pretty sure this is not something you want).
Do not feed the negative review with more unwanted attention; the low star-rating it was given already does a great job at it. In the event that you cannot contact the reviewer, simply take a deep breath and move on; learn from this experience and try your best to keep history from repeating itself.
Lastly, do not worry or lose any sleep over a single poor review. If your book’s positive comments outweigh the bad ones, you are clearly doing a good job with your work. If you do not have any positive comments, other customers are generally pretty good at determining whether the bad review applies to them, as readers.
You may still sell a surprising amount of copies if the poor review had no merit or if it was clearly biased and based on a reader’s overly-personal opinion.
Are you an indie book publisher? How have you personally dealt with poor reviews? Did these affect your sales?