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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Why a Negative Review isn't Bad

When authors see a negative review, their first knee-jerk reaction is to curl up in a ball and cry. If they can contact the reviewer, they might even request the review be removed. Let’s talk about why this is not a good idea.

I had this happen to me earlier this year. I wrote a 2-star review on a book that broke down why I personally did not like the book. The author asked me to remove the review and I made the mistake of doing so. It is now a policy on my site to never remove a review again. Why? Because negative reviews aren’t bad.

In the short amount of time the review was live on my site, it attracted a lot of attention. Maybe it was because I rarely post 2-star reviews. No matter the reason, I was told by several people they wanted to buy the book and check it out for themselves as the idea of the book itself intrigued them. Once they discovered the review had been removed, they immediately backpedaled, took note of the author, and immediately decided to never read any of their books again. So the removal of that review hurt the author more than they know.

What authors need to keep in mind is that a review is the opinion of a single person. The book wasn’t my cup of tea and I said so right out. However, it had a lot of positive reviews across the board and I admitted I was obviously the odd man out and the book should be looked into. 

In a discussion that ensued after I commented on removing the review to a group of writers, I learned something. Most people, when they’re looking at an indie author, ignore the 5-star and 1-star reviews. They go looking specifically for the 4, 3, and 2-star reviews. Why? Because they see those as the most HONEST reviews of the group. They love the 2-star reviews because they can scan why the readers gave the book that rating. If someone mentioned they didn’t like it because of certain scenes, but those same scenes don’t bother the potential reader, then they’re more likely to buy the book and read it. However, if someone mentions something like animal cruelty, and the potential reader agrees with that statement, then they know to steer clear. Same goes with comments about excessive errors in the book. Readers will steer clear of those as well. The only time they will overlook those is if the review goes on to state that the story line was still so amazing, it was worth it. Unfortunately, that rarely happens. Very few authors are talented enough to overcome that one.

So while a 2-star rating might stab at the author’s heart, NEVER request the reviewer remove the review. NEVER get into an argument with the reviewer over it. Let it stand on its own merits. While it might sting, you never know when what the person said in that review is the exact thing that makes someone buy your book. Those so-called “negative” reviews hold more power than you realize, and it’s not all bad.


mshatch said...

I completely agree. I often check out the 3 star reviews because those seem to be the most honest.

Diana Wilder said...

Good article.

I agree. I head straight to the three star reviews, then work my way up and down the scale. I can disregard a nasty review (as opposed to an honest critical one) and also disregard a superficial gusher. And sometimes the unfavorable ones make me decide to read the book just to see what it is about.

Liz A. said...

I know I've seen reviews that trashed a book for something that doesn't bother me, and that'll be the reason I check it out. And then there are books that are praised for things that I can't stand. There are some kinds of stories I can't tolerate, and it's good to know if a book has them so I'll steer clear.

Why are authors reading reviews, anyway? Sometimes it's best to avoid them. Especially if bad reviews are going to upset them.

Theresa Milstein said...

I think it's unprofessional for an author to ask for a book to be removed. As you said, it's one person's opinion. Every single book out there has a range of stars. Probably easier said than done, but it's important.

Toni said...

Great insight. When my book is published, I would be honored to have any rating on your site and that includes a 2!

Huntress said...

Honest reviews—even two-stars—are what an author should hope for. I would never ask for it to be removed.
I do have a problem with negative reviews fostered by people with an agenda to bring down your status. Or the ones that are in love with the sound of their own voice. Reviews given with a measure of snark and sarcasm turn me off and make me want to buy the book.
True authors don't mind (or shouldn't mind) a negative review in the vein of "Not For Me" and can shrug it off.
BUT a review that says the book is poorly written, badly edited/formatted, well, boy howdy, THAT is different. You'd better take note, pull on your professional pants, and do it right next time.