Sunday, November 17, 2013

#IndieLife: Surviving The Book Reviews



Let's face it. I have a love - hate relationship with book reviews. Most authors do. Book reviews are very important in the literary world because they can either attract or detract your readers from buying your book. Anyone working in the literary world knows this and sometimes if you have made an enemy of a book reviewer or other author they will use this against you. It has happened to me several times. I had a woman who faked eight accounts on Amazon and posted one star reviews on my book, Calico, because she was upset with me. I have had two reviewers who know me, praised my book, then posted two one star reviews on Calico. Then there was the other author who posted a one star account on my book because "he wanted to help me gain readers."

Now was I insulted by these people? Yes. Did I react? No.

I know you're in shock. Let me tell you some secrets about handling those dreaded one and two star reviews.

1) NEVER respond to any reviews whether you are given a positive or negative review. 
If you respond to a review it will backfire on you. Readers do not want to pick up a book from an author who criticizes book reviews. They take it as if you will criticize them if you do this and will not feel comfortable with leaving their honest opinion about your book.

Good reviewers will always inform the author they are about to post a low star on book. I've known reviewers who will never post lower than a three star if they don't like your book. It just all depends on the reviewer. A professional reviewer knows the importance of the review rating. The general public, not so much.

2) Be mindful of who you give your book to
When choosing book reviewer for your book you need to chose someone who enjoys reading your genre and the sub genre you wrote in. For example: Although I write historical fiction people who read Elsa may not want to read Calico, even though they are both historical fiction. Calico is written in the voice of the Shawnee people. It's violent and contains sex, rape, molestation. It also takes place in the 18th century. Elsa on the other hand is written in a white woman's voice and deal with mental illness. It takes place in the early 20th century. It has no rape, some sex and no molestation.

Whenever I come across a reviewer who is interested in reviewing my books I let them know about the differences in my books right away. If the reviewer still wants to review one of my book I let them. Now this doesn't always work because I had told this to a reviewer and she still posted a one star review on Amazon warning everyone there was rape, molestation and sex in my book. So you just have to be careful with your reviewers.

3) Negative reviews also generate traffic
This was a hard lesson for me to learn. Just because someone has posted a negative review on Amazon it doesn't always mean it will slow your sales. The more people are talking about your book the more attention it will draw towards your book. People like to read what others are talking about. That's why social media and reviews are so important.

4) It's all about balance.
A book that has ten reviews or more on it will gain more attention from readers and Amazon. Yet you don't want all 5 stars. You want balance. Readers will not read a book that has all one stars. It just won't work. You want your reviews to have a mix of all the stars with most of your ratings in the five stars. For example, here's the rating I have on Amazon for Calico.
Calico has been released for five years and I have three editions of the book. The people who most respond favorably to my novel are those who either Native American or are interested in Native American culture. People want to read this book because I have eighteen five star and nine four star reviews.

5) NEVER buy your reviews
You may be tempted to stock pile your reviews so you can get a lot of favorable reviews. Don't do this. Your readers aren't stupid. They can tell when authors buy reviews. Readers want to read authentic reviews by other readers not other authors.


  1. Nicely done. As a reviewer, I do what you suggest, and let the author know if the review isn't going to be a good one. If it's totally against my moral code, I will let the author know. Along with turning him or her down, I will offer names or groups of other reviewers who the author might want to seek out. After all, we're all in this together.

    1. I think you do a great job with all the authors you review for. I just wish some reviewers would be mindful of how their opinions affect not only the sales of a book but an author's feelings. There's a difference between constructive criticism and slamming a book.

  2. Thanks for sharing this! I'm definitely fearful of the day when I have a book that someone will judge, but I'll keep this post in mind. :)

  3. Good post Allison. I'll keep your points in mind.

  4. Good post Allison. I'll keep your points in mind.

  5. I think it's good you warn your potential reviewers about the content of your books. Many of us DON'T care for sex in fiction, and one doesn't want to find it by surprise in a book you have promised to review--- especially if you review a lot and have people following your reviews who have certain expectations.

    I often read the poor reviews of a book in order to sense if a book is good. When they all complain about real flaws in the book such as sluggish plot or uninteresting characters you can be warned off. When they all complain of different things, or have stupid complaints such as 'I don't read romance and this is a romance so it sucks', then you can start to suspect the book might be higher quality.

  6. I stopped reading book reviews awhile ago. Just because some person on the Internet didn't like a book doesn't mean I won't. But as someone who is in the early stages of becoming an indie author, this is something I am now just beginning to think about. Thanks for your advice. I will do my very best to keep #3 in mind.