Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last six months, you probably know that I have a book out in ebook and audio (paperback coming on 30th May). It’s a very exciting and nerve-wracking time and one of the toughest things that comes along with a new book is new book reviews.
Now I could tell you that I’m one of those writers that never reads their reviews, that reading reviews is pointless and bad for the soul. But I’d be lying. Reading reviews may be pointless and bad for the soul but I am not quite enlightened enough yet to leave them alone. After about six weeks of a book being out I can back off a little and stop reading them, but you may as well ask me to climb through the eye of a needle as to not read my reviews in those first few weeks. What can I tell you, I’m a weak and flawed human being!!
The very first review I got for my very first book was a 3* on Goodreads that gave away the entire plot of the book. It was an inauspicious start. But things got better and the book went on to get a 4.8 average on Amazon.
But there are three things about reviews that I didn’t know back then and I do now….
- There is nothing you can do about them – if you’re not a writer (and not a control freak) this may seem wildly obvious to you. But at first I took every single bad review of my books personally. I wanted to reply to every reviewer and tell them why they were wrong (don’t worry, I didn’t), I wanted to pull the book and never let anyone read any of my work again. This is all normal I think (tell me it’s normal!!), and eventually you have to remember that reviews aren’t really for you, the writer. Reviews are for readers and if you read your own reviews then you have to do it from a place of observance only. There’s nothing you can do about them.
- All reviews have a purpose, even the bad ones – reviews and star ratings on Amazon and Goodreads greatly increase the visibility of a book online. If you sell predominantly in digital format, like I do, the more reviews you have, the more likely new readers are of seeing your book and that includes all reviews – even the 1* ones. So next time you get a shitty Amazon review, have a bit of a rant and rave to your nearest and dearest and then remember that it’s helping you get seen by new readers.
- Everything is subjective – like everything in life. When I realised I can’t please everyone I started to let go of some of the imposter syndrome I felt every time I have a bad review. The very first review for my most recent book was a 1* telling me the whole thing didn’t work (oh my heart….) and the second was a 5* telling me how it helped motivate the reviewer to write too. I’ve had reviews that didn’t like the flashbacks told through journal entries and reviews that loved them. I’ve had readers who loved my main character and readers who didn’t. I had one review that explained this subjectivity perfectly….
I loved Rachel’s The Things We Need To say, and really expected to love this one too. I didn’t. though its beautifully written and tackles some tough subjects….a well written story, but it just didn’t work for me. Could be just what you want though, reading is incredibly subjective.
Not everyone will love your books, not everyone will love all your books. Some people will really like them but will have niggles and things they didn’t like. But some people will wholeheartedly enjoy your writing, and those people will tell you that you are now on their auto-buy list, that you are one of their go-to authors. These are the readers you need to hold in your mind when you write your next book and your next and your next. Because a few bad reviews should never, ever make you want to give up.
The Pieces of You & Me is out now (and if you’ve read it and would like to write a little review I would be so happy!)