My advice? Ignore reviews.

Monday, November 7, 2011
I see a few topics come up from time to time on a regular basis from new authors, so I thought I'd blog about it. Topic: reviews.

When you're a new author, you bite your nails and pray the first reviews (professional or reader) come through positive. It's easy for a neutral or negative review to send you plummeting to the depths of despair.

Here's a secret: Reviews don't matter. At all.

If you truly want to be a professional author, develop a thick skin now, because the sad truth is that you will find plenty of people who seem to derive sadistic joy in leaving low ratings, usually without an explanation. Some will leave negative reviews explaining why, and most of those will be little more than barely-legible rants. Even sadder? Some of those reviews will come from review sites.

Good reviews will, at best, give you a momentary blip of an increase in sales. Negative reviews, especially if it's outlandish enough, will more often than not also give you a momentary blip of an increase in sales. (Believe me, readers will see through those snarky, childish slam reviews. You don't need to fight the battle for them, and it will only make you look bad because you cannot win.)

And there are people who apparently have grudges against certain genres or publishers or whatever, and who will, on sites like Goodreads, leave 1- or 2-star reviews without any explanation. I'm talking if you look at their profile, they will rank a WIDE swath of books with 1's and 2's with no explanation whatsoever. (As opposed to people who will leave a reasoned review.) Apparently it's a childish sport they enjoy, and they think they're getting away with it, when the truth is, most professional authors ignore them, if they even see them. (So those of you childish tools who get your jollies doing just that, I've got news for you, you're just spinning your wheels. Hate to disappoint you, but your efforts aren't working.)

So here's the thing you need to do: IGNORE reviews. If you get a good review, fine, quote a snippet from it. Treat negative reviews as if they don't exist. Do not argue with them, don't fight them, don't respond to them. PERIOD. Believe me, I've seen plenty of author meltdowns that went badly, and the readers WILL remember a public author meltdown and blacklist you, but they most likely won't even see the negative review that was left in the first place if you ignore it. If they see it, chances are, they won't even remember it. OR, if it's outrageous enough, they'll buy your book just to see what the fuss is about.

That's a win, my friends.

So laugh off bad reviews. Seriously. Chalk it up to you have officially joined the ranks of professional authors and act professionally: ignore the bad. Do not live and die by reviews. Don't let them ruin your day. Do what I did, and eagerly anticipate your first bad review, because it means you've made it.

2 reader comments:

  1. Becky C said...:

    I understand where you are coming from on this. The reason I started a review blog was I was so sick and tired of mean comments pretending to be book reviews and those ratings with no comments drive me mad, too! Unfortunately, many bad apples have already spoiled the barrel. I review for readers, not authors, but at the same time I am careful not to insult a writer if I don't happen to like his or her book. So, yes, ignore reviews if you wish, but then again, take a look from time to time just to see if maybe we're doing our job, just as you are doing yours.

  1. Becky - I do appreciate honest reviews, whether positive or critical, as long as they are respectful. But I'm seeing a disturbing trend of newbie authors who really take a huge hit in the self-confidence by the bad apples of the review world. I appreciate efforts such as yours to deliver quality reviews, and I don't mean to disparage review sites who do a good job. Likewise, I don't want newbie authors to get so upset they let a review rattle them, or worse, they engage in a public battle and trash their own reputation.