Thursday, August 31, 2017

When authors threaten reviewers...


I got an email this morning raging about a three star notice and threatening to post fake review on my titles. So this is what I’m doing about it... 

Every time someone reviews one of my books on Amazon, I get an automated message. If I’m doing a review tour, I go round instantly because I asked someone for their time and I’m grateful. 

If they loved it, I say . I also share and promote that review over FB, Goodreads, my blog and anywhere that will take me.

If they didn’t love it, I say, “I’m sorry you didn’t like it. Better luck next time!” but I don’t share the review via social media because I’m not a damn idiot.

I read all critical and negative reviews to see if there’s something I should be doing to improve on my work. There was an early notice of The Bonus that said I needed my characters to talk more. I took that to heart. There was a recent review of The Beast and The Sibyl that said the title was too obscure. That’s another good lesson.

In fact, the best thing I’ve done is to invite my newsletter friends to tell me how to improve my work. They were fabulous and I’m grateful for their honesty. Writing is a hard business and when you get straight-from-the-shoulder feedback, it’s a blessing.

Of course in amongst the pearls are the odd comments, like, “I never give more than three stars to an indie novel.” Those are outliers I ignore.

What’s more difficult is when someone just didn’t go nuts over my work. It’s a bit of a let-down but it’s okay. I wish they’d loved it but hey, you can’t please everyone.

Because all reviews impact on an author’s overall Amazon rank, book tour reviewers sometimes message to say, “I can’t rave over your book” and then offer not to post.

In those cases, I insist that they publish. Why?

First, all opinions matter. I don’t approve of stifling free speech.

Second, publishers game the system by rigging positive professional reviews. Until e-publishing, almost all notices were five star raves.  It’s just part of the industry but I’m glad that we now have independent reviewers.

Okay, after a bad review I do miss the days when it was all 100% rah-rah-rah. I’m human. But transparency is helpful for readers and I think it’s better in the long run for authors too.

Third, reviewers have their own followers. In fact, those who take part in tours, are bloggers, or who are avid Goodreads participants have hundreds of fans.

It’s nice when they endorse you, but even their critical notices can be helpful. Like I know that when my mate Jenn says a book is too dark for her that I’m going to love it. But if NilePrincess says a book is excellently dark, then it’s too dark for me.

So back to that evil email. I review on NetGalley. Recently I gave a history book three stars because I couldn’t make head or tail of it. Actually, I couldn’t finish it. I wrote that the research was great but it needed a lot of work. 

Now the author, a complete stranger, is lambasting me for giving an honest opinion and threatening to write fake revenge reviews for my books.

My first thought was that he’s a damn fool. If I were the kind of person who’d forward that email, it would get him booted by his publisher, Amazon, and Goodreads. It would also ruin his personal reputation. Luckily for him, I’m ignoring it.

I did go to Goodreads to see if I was the odd voice out. After all, it’s just my opinion and so it’s good to do a reality check. But as it turns out, the other reviews are also three and two stars. On Amazon, the one positive review comes from a publisher and the other is also three stars, and critical like mine.

The take-away is this. I do get it. It’s hard to see that your work isn’t hitting the spot. But frankly, writing is a difficult job, and negative reviews are part of the business. Readers have a right to express their opinion and as long as it’s an honest one, you shut your trap and respect it.

Threats and tantrums just aren’t on.

Want to talk to me about this? Come and see me onFacebook! 

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