Bad reviews — every author gets one eventually. I didn’t expect to get one so soon, and so, well…bad. I have just published my first fiction book, a supernatural suspense novella titled Salt in the Blood. It got glowing reviews from advanced copy readers and the hard launch went very well, with a pretty decent level of sales. Like any author excited to see people reading and enjoying their work, I checked Amazon daily to see if anyone had left me another review.
And there it was. My first bad review. I am instantly gutted. It wasn’t just a four- or three-star review either. It was a two. A TWO, people. That’s a D in the grade book. Could I really be a D-list writer? I needed to dissect that bad review to find the answer.
Here’s what the reviewer says:
Oh my. Well, I DO mention that the book is a fast-paced novella in the first sentence of Amazon’s description section. I’m thinking perhaps she skimmed over or didn’t read that part when she made her purchase. If she did, it might explain her dissatisfaction with the book’s length and perhaps it’s “rushed” feeling. Next, any romance in the book is incidental to the plot, not a feature of the story, so I’m going to chalk that up to “you can’t please everyone.” But she did say the characters were flat and she didn’t connect with them. While lack of connection may be specific to this reviewer, I need to look closely at my character development in case there’s a lesson to be learned. As a writer, you should pay close attention to any criticism and use it to improve your writing. While you’ll never please everyone, you may come closer by evaluating your writing through the eyes of others — something crap reviews help you do.
I’m grateful for the glowing analysis of my scene writing skills at the end of her review. It’s quite a nice compliment and doesn’t seem to fit with the 2 stars she gave the book, something others that read this review may notice and consider.
After analysis, action plan. First, I checked her other reviews. She’s mostly a harsh reviewer. In fact, she gave a bag of charcoal two stars. I’m not sure how a bag of charcoal gets two stars, other than to not be charcoal, but there it is. This helps me to understand her view on things in general. I’d feel a lot worse if she was generous with her reviews of other products.
Next, I made a mental note to pay specific attention to character development in future stories. Even if this is just her opinion, paying more attention to this critical skill can only help me.
Finally, I’ll relax and enjoy the compliment she gave me. Perhaps, I’ll reply to her when the next book, Blood in the Flame, is ready for advance readers and give her a copy in return for a critique. After all, we need criticism. It helps us grow. It helps us perfect our craft. And sometimes, it nails our feet firmly to the ground when we’re in need of perspective. However, don’t let a bad review break your stride or crush your enthusiasm for writing. Use it the way it’s meant to be used — as fuel for your creative fire.
See you on the next page!
P.S. Salt in the Blood is only 99 cents at Amazon. I’d love it if you’d read and review for me!