I was on amazon, checking out a few books I wanted to buy for my Kindle. I heard good things about them, so I wanted to see for myself. I had every intention of buying them and supporting my fellow authors. BUT, before I download anything, I always look at the reviews first. I want to see what other people thought about it before I make the commitment to purchase. If the reviews look great, I move onto downloading the sample and go from there.
I'm the kind of reader that goes straight for the 3 star, 2 star, and 1 star reviews and read them first. I tend to find those reviews to be honest and forthright (if nothing else, entertaining). But holy moly! I didn't expect downright mean reviews. Wow. It opened my eyes and scared the CRAP out of me as a soon to-be published author (I'm a shaking in my boots, I tell ya).
Now, I do realize that not everyone is going to like every book. I get that. Some books just aren't some readers cup of tea. That's why we have various genres and a whole lot of authors. I also know that when my book comes out I won't be able to please everyone and I'm preparing myself for negative reviews by seeing a shrink on a daily basis who provides me with little white pills.
But some of those reviews I read terrified me. Take a peek at this one (I'll not post the name of the books these reviews came from. I don't want to embarrass anyone):
Oh my god, where to begin. What a freaking fart bomb this book was. It is another reminder why I don't read a lot of horror. It seems like some of the worst writers in the world run this genre. When I was finished I was pissed that it cost me a buck.
Or this one:
I have mixed feelings about this book. I honestly thought that this was written by a teenager in high school. As I finished the last page I thought, that wasn't too bad for high school level. Next thing I know, I'm looking at a picture of a 40-something-year-old woman.
What about this:
I can not handle the tease of a good story line that slowly starts to wind itself around my windpipe over and over with the same plot till I choke. I want to pound my kindle on my head and say GET ON WITH IT!
It says a lot about my reaction to this book that I (deliberately) left it at my hotel in Greece.
How about this one:
No, really. Don't read this if you have a brain. Else it'll hurt later. (That's what happened to me! Such a headache after reading this drivel.)
Ahh, yeah. I'm a little terrified. I don't want to be a freakin' fart bomb. The closer I get to publishing my first book the more my knees begin to quake. It's pretty scary out there. I know I have said it before, writing a book and putting it out there to be read and reviewed is equivalent to standing naked in the middle of Times Square. Either there will be whistles or rotten tomatoes. My fingers are crossed in the hopes of a few whistles, because boy those tomatoes will sting something awful.
For those of you who are authors, how do you handle negative reviews? Read them? Ignore them? And for those of you who are readers, what makes a book bad?
1/2/2012 07:07:34 am
Writers have to either acknowledge a bad review with no less than delight or ignore it completely. Sometimes bad books just strike a nerve, sometimes they're boring or poorly plotted. To me, literary fiction is bad most of the time even if it's fancy--kind of like foie gras.
1/2/2012 07:31:35 am
I love that--acknowledge with no less than delight or ignore completely. Very good advice.
1/2/2012 07:11:28 am
Wow. That's terrible. Here I thought the mean review I got on my book was bad! As an author, bad reviews make me sad for a little while, but I have to move past them. Like you said, not everyone will like every book. As a reader and reviewer, mean reviews in general make me mad. It's one thing to not like a book, and it's an entirely different thing to bash the author and the book. Maybe it's because I see both sides. Even if I don't like a book, I try to find something nice to say about it.
1/2/2012 07:34:43 am
I think a lot of it has to do with being a reader vs and author. As an author, even if I did not enjoy a book or found the writing style quite newbie, I refuse to leave a negative review. I just don't leave any review. If I was only a reader and not a writer, then it might be a different case.
1/2/2012 07:11:55 am
In this new, great world, where it is SO much easier for an aspiring author to publish, sometimes the critics will be cruel. And for a reason. I find many of your examples to be voices from a frustrated customer/reader that is angry BUT still can use humor. I think that´s great! If you are an author that get that feedback - read, think about it - and learn!!
1/2/2012 07:39:22 am
I completely agree. There is a lot of crap out there. I've been duped several times by books with AMAZING reviews and then read the book and wonder if the author got all their friends and family to post misleading reviews. I trust the 3 star reviews more than any of the other ratings. One stars can be vindictive at times and five star reviews can be big ol' lies. Three stars are perfect.
1/30/2012 07:26:20 am
I totally agree with Angela Scott. I've seen books that really were not good get glowing reviews on Goodreads when they first come out. Over time, the average rating dwindles, making me wonder if it was the author's friends rating it in the beginning. Can't blame them really--I would do the same for my friend.
1/2/2012 07:23:25 am
To me, there's three kinds of negative reviews.
1/2/2012 07:46:09 am
Yeah, that fart bomb remark was over the top (I did laugh though. I know. I know. I shouldn't have).
1/30/2012 07:33:10 am
No kidding--the "fartbomb" comment just tells me that the reviewer isn't a very savvy reviewer/reader. There are about a million words more succinct and helpful than "fartbomb."
1/2/2012 08:36:51 am
I think the thing you have to remember is that there are a lot of uneducated people out there that simply do not have the ability to write constructive criticism. Instead, they utilise such poetry as, "freaking fart bomb". I think you'd find that these people are also quite angry by nature and just like venting at any chance they get. I think, as a writer, that you just need to ignore these type of "reviews" and focus on the more erudite ones.
1/2/2012 11:21:38 am
I think you're absolutely right. I will need to focus on the ones that are helpful, work through the rest, and put it behind me.
1/2/2012 08:46:43 am
I typically will write a review for a book I've purchased/downloaded from Amazon. I've had to leave bad reviews on occasion but I've tried to make it constructive and I avoid being snide.
1/2/2012 11:20:16 am
So stalking a reviewer until they retract their review is out of the question? Dang it. You just squelched my plan :)
1/2/2012 09:19:24 am
I tend to read the lower reviews first too, then compare them to the 4 and 5 star ratings. Sometimes it seems people haven't even read the same book! But everyone is entitled to their opinion, and in the end I make a decision based on author, or the storyline, a rec from someone else, a little bit of the review, or a combo of all of it. I haven't had to deal with reviews yet, but some authors I really admire embrace all their reviews and try to take them for what they are...one person's opinion. Good luck, Angela!
1/2/2012 11:25:07 am
That's what I thought, too! There are some 1 star reviews that actually call out the 5 star reviewers and ask them if they are a friend or if they are family of the author because they can't believe someone would rate the book any higher than a 2 star. I even saw some reviewers who questioned the book awards the author got, wondering if the judges were in on some kind of conspiracy or something. BUT, when I see a book with like 80 five star reviews and the next highest number of reviews are for one star reviews, I start to wonder.
1/2/2012 09:26:15 am
I have a process for when I get mean reviews on my book (and I have).
1/2/2012 09:53:44 am
I wrote a little short story and published it and got my first 2 star review on it the other day. At first my heart dropped through the floor when I saw 2 stars, but when I read it, I felt infinitely better because the person didn't rip me a new one. They were very polite about it. And honestly, I can't see how some people could be so mean with their review. I guess since they're not saying it to the author's face it's a lot easier to be mean about something they didn't care for. Still, I could never post a mean review like some of those.
1/2/2012 10:04:29 am
Great post, Angela! Timely too, my debut novella just released today. My face was turning blue from holding my breath waiting for reviews. Then I thought, you know what, bring it on - the good, the bad and the ugly.
1/2/2012 11:16:06 am
I think as an author you have to keep in mind this is all an opinion. These readers aren't editors. They aren't professionals. Some of them are just stating their opinion.
1/2/2012 11:27:24 am
I give the one who left it in Greece points for creative disposal...really, ones like the first one listed I disregard as someone who uses "fart bomb" as a descriptor probably doesn't have much basis for an opinion.
1/2/2012 11:35:30 am
I have had my share of bad reviews. When my first book came out in Aug., I received a bad review here and there. At first they were tough to read. Especially the really mean ones. Goodreads tends to bring out the 1stars most often. They don't bother me as much anymore. The morbid fascination of seeking them out tends to fade after awhile. My advice, dont look for them because it's not worth the heartache. But I know that isn't easy so I will just say don't let the bad ones weigh more than the good ones.
I think bad reviews are better than no reviews, at least it looks like someone has read it. I've seen lots of books with nothing, so what does that mean when there isn't a good, bad, or indifferent review--nothing. And they are selling books, just no reviews. You shouldn't worry, I love reading your stuff. You will get negative feedback, because that's the way it goes. Look how many people love Twilight and that sucker should be torn up. You have a swedish zombie follower...what's better than that.:)
1/2/2012 01:17:02 pm
Honestly, if you're getting reviews that bad, I'd be starting to think there's something wrong with the book. I've received lots of reviews in my writing life. Most professional reviewers are pretty good at delivering bad news carefully. Readers on the other hand, are less generous. I've never gotten horrible reader reviews after the book has been published...possibly because it's already done the rounds of critique partners and beta readers and editors etc. Don't fret about your book. If you've honestly put in the hard yards and have had positive feedback (from someone other than relatives) to date, there's no reason you'd get a review like that.
I do honestly think some people just get a kick out of writing horrible reviews. I don't know why.
1/2/2012 05:46:07 pm
I'm from the reader-reviewer category so I've not had the experience of putting months and years into a piece of work out for public consumption. I do try to keep that in mind when I'm writing a review and genuinely look for positives while carefully sharing constructive criticism. At the end of the day I feel obligated to keep readers in mind so ratings shouldn't be inflated. It's not helpful to the readers or author otherwise. The other policy I've adopted is not to write or post a review if the book is that bad. Fortunately I've run across very few of those but the common denominator seems to be a lack of editing, vetting through colleagues - or beta release. Seems to me the better reads are thoroughly vetted. No point in rushing a release, you'll genuinely know when it's ready.
1/2/2012 10:49:43 pm
Thank you for this post, Angela. The great thing about reader reviews is there can be so many of them. I like this because I can scan a lot of them and by comparing them with each other get a general idea of the strong and weak points of a book (reviewers often corroborate each other in these things). The beauty of reader-reviews now, whether on Amazon or Nook or Smashwords or elsewhere, is that you can easily scan 20 or more reviews all in the same place, all at once, and make your decision. A few years ago we had to rely on the judgment of a single professional reviewer in our favorite newspaper. I like this freedom. If a review is poorly written, has typos or apostrophe mistakes or whatever, that is the price we pay for this freedom, but again I have the freedom to give less weight to a reviewer who makes careless mistakes.
1/2/2012 11:14:13 pm
Interesting mixture of reviews you list. Some of them are just plain mean and none are constructive.
1/3/2012 04:06:40 am
My dad used to say something like "If people like something, they might not tell anyone, but if they don't, they'll tell the whole world". I find that to be true. People are more likely to complain in a store or restaurant if they do not like something than they are to rave to the manager if they had an awesome server/customer service rep. So it makes sense to me that people are more likely to sit down and complain if they think they should warn people to avoid a book than they are to rave if they enjoyed it. Many may not even realize that good reviews are just as important as the bad ones. If someone tells you that they really love a book, ask them to write up a review and post it on a few sites, whether it's yours or another author's. People who read a lot may not have time to do it for every book but they'll probably do it for the ones they love most, and perhaps at least leave a star rating for the others.
1/3/2012 04:22:15 am
I don't know who said it, but someone once said something along the lines of "great art is meant to inspire great emotion. Sometimes that emotion is hatred." I would rather inspire hatred for my art than apathy; it means I've accomplished something!!
1/3/2012 06:31:08 am
I can't believe some of those! It is terrifying! I have just started to review books and so far it's been of books I have loved (I tend to stick with what I know I like). But I couldn't imagine writing something this horrible! I know different people like different things. To me a bad book would just basically be too boring for me to finish, although I still think those comments are uncalled for, why not just say it isn't your "cup of tea" and move on? Good luck with your book, I look forward to reading it, I'm sure it'll be great to many!
1/3/2012 07:21:42 am
Some reviews I've read have physically hurt me. The problem with the internet in general is that it's largely anonymous so there's no accountability; everyone can be as rude as they want without comeuppance. I think about possible reviews I could get for my books, should I ever publish, and it makes me sick. But you're right that you can't please everyone. Write what you want, publish what you like, and forget about the naysayers. They are the real fart bombs, after all.
This review was left on a friend of mine's book:
1/3/2012 08:03:16 am
I wish I could respond to every comment (because boy, they are so good) but there are so many (which I love).
1/3/2012 08:27:12 am
I always look for the lower reviews too, because as you say, they tend to be the most honest. If they are just ranting to rant then ignore them, they are not worth it. If there is any constructive feedback, learn from it.
1/3/2012 10:29:33 am
I'm still trying to GET reviews, LOL. The few I've gotten have been pretty good, so if I got I really poor one, I have to say that maybe the reader doesn't get me or my voice. Because I believe my books are good. If I didn't, I wouldn't publish them. Let's face it, if you don't believe in your work, what's the point?
1/5/2012 02:29:32 am
Bad reviews sting (and stink). But some do offer good advice, others are just plain a power trip. I cannot speak for anyone else, but I do have self doubt and insecurities, znc I put my writing out there anyway. Good advice has been taken into account, and I strive to make the next better. Just look at what an accomplishment you have made in simply completing a novel! Congratulations.
1/5/2012 07:19:32 am
Interesting food for thought! Like you, I go for the bad reviews first when checking out what to read next, but I do take everything with a grain of salt.
1/5/2012 09:26:51 am
As an author, comments like that are hard to read about your own writing, BUT you just have to take them with a grain of salt. Like you said, not everyone will like what you write or how you write...so if they have something constructive to say, learn from it. Otherwise, I just take it as they didn't like my book and want to vent excessively about it. I'm different too - if I hate a book, I just stop reading it and forget about it! :) Just remember, to balance out the haters, there will be people who totally love your books. They are just different ends of the spectrum. I don't let it discourage me.
1/5/2012 01:38:38 pm
Great post, I needed a chuckle. (fart bombs, haha!) Some people are just mean and it has nothing to do with the book they just read, even so, you are completely right, not everyone is going to love every book. That's why we always hear the advice to write what you love. I'm sure you book will do well, look at all the support you have here! And you can add one more to that now :) Keep up the good work!
1/5/2012 11:44:18 pm
Crystal, you are more than welcome to mention the post on your blog :)
1/6/2012 02:12:36 am
Thank you!! :)
1/7/2012 07:22:02 am
Wow, that's terrifying! Fart bombs? Colourful I suppose... and honest. But scary to think that someone could talk about my work like that.
1/8/2012 07:24:53 am
I've never gotten a negative, as in mean and ugly, review like that. I've had constructive criticism or reviewers who admitted that they weren't familiar with the kinds of books I write, but they were always helpful. I think anyone who calls your work a fart bomb should be ignored.
1/8/2012 11:22:45 pm
I have no intention of reading your novel - vampire lit is not my favorite category - but I really "heart" your cover.
1/20/2012 07:25:29 am
Came here from Twitter - awesome post!! I'm embarrassed just reading some of the reviews over there and I'm not a published author! (but yeah, I usually go for the 1-star ones for a laugh if nothing else!)
2/2/2012 07:24:46 am
Funny and scary at once. I hadn't thought that far ahead, but now I'm going to have that "bomb" on my mind the rest of the day, at least. I try to be a little more gentle with my reviews, remembering that those not in my genre don't deserve to suffer for that. If they fail to edit, I'm not as generous but still not mean. Wow.
2/2/2012 09:30:06 am
I'm with you. I really do think there is a way to be tactful with the criticism. There's no place for meanness, I feel. It needs to be helpful not attackful (I just made up that word)
2/2/2012 07:40:40 am
I think there's something to be gained from ANY review, good, bad, or fart bomb-y.
2/2/2012 09:28:06 am
You know what? You are so right. You gave me a great way to look at the whole process of reviews. I need to learn from the negative so I can improve my writing. I appreciate the comment, because you are right on with it. The inflated reviews drive me crazy. I can't stand them. But I do think most readers can see right through it.
2/12/2012 07:29:35 am
I don't think you have to be mean when writing a review. Some of these are way over the top and just mean. As someone who is about to be published,these reviews really do scare me.
2/12/2012 07:58:06 am
I have always believed that you never leave a bad review. If I'm not crazy about the book, I'll comment on writing style or character I liked. it is bad manners to trash someones book. This is their baby!
3/24/2012 07:52:39 am
That's what I do, too, Laura! The worst I ever say is, "Well, this didn't really grab me, but I really liked the way she developed the . . . ." Being an author myself, I know how a bad review can feel. However, I also think it's good to at least touch on the weaknesses, even slightly, because I also like to know where I can improve upon my work.
2/29/2012 07:21:03 am
I've never actually gotten a purely negative or "mean" review, but I do recall getting some feedback on a fairly close to final draft of a first chapter. The reviewer absolutely roasted me to the point where I figured surely I must have wronged this person in another life. It kind of turned me off from anonymous or group reviewing where you don't know the person reviewing. Never stopped me from writing, though.
A "bad" review can be a "Good" thing, if it's a good bad review. Make sense? I'll explain...As long as the review helps you grow as a writer and author, then it is good, but if the people writing the review aren't constructive and helpful in their reviews like the one
I think this is just another form of cyber bullying. People who normally wouldn't say or act a certain way in person feel that b/c the internet offer complete anonymity, you can say whatever you feel and be as mean as you like. People don't understand that there are things like common courtesy, so you didn't like the book. No need to make a personal attack on the author (another human!).
3/24/2012 07:50:12 am
I am also the kind of person who goes straight for the one-star reviews, just to see what they say. For the most part, I end up getting the book and loving it despite the bad reviews. As an author, I have to say that all of the reviews on my book were stellar, except for ONE. The reviewer didn't bother saying much of anything at all. All she did was outright insult my book. I have to say that it wouldn't have bothered me as much, had she actually said what she didn't like about it. I think that a good review actually mentions the pros and cons, rather than merely bashing the book in its entirety. Since I disagree with many of the bad reviews I see, I generally don't listen to them, anyway. :-)
4/27/2012 09:42:31 pm
It allows me to take photos and wirelessly send them to all of our devices and computers in seconds.
6/23/2012 12:38:37 pm
Loved your blog layout that I created a weebly account too.
Another side of this is you are doing some things right to attract people who apparently wouldn't normally read your book. AND, if anyone garners a wide enough audience in any field, it seems to come with a share of those who let their nasty thoughts become written thoughts online. This is the first post of yours I've read. As a writer publishing for the first time later this year, I appreciate authors like you who share your experiences. Thank you!
3/26/2014 05:22:07 am
I think it's excellent to receive serious constructive criticism. I don't care about bad reviews unless they are nasty. I get furious and then I ignore.
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