Day 25 – Reviews

The in-laws are visiting this weekend, so I’m spending time with them instead of working. Still managed to get a little bit of editing in. And this blog post. Only 340 more days to go.

So. Reviews.

An argument could be made that reviews are the lifeblood of an author’s business. I hate asking readers for them. I’m bad it. But it has to be done sometimes. If a book doesn’t have a sufficient number of reviews, I can’t purchase some forms of advertising for it. It’s a weird place to be, because I don’t want to bore my readers with the details of ads and average star rating and review counts, but it’s critically important to what I do.

So if you like an author’s work, drop them a review. It truly makes a huge difference for us. Once I have enough reviews on Amazon, for instance, with a sufficiently high rating, a whole new world of possibilities opens up for me.

And beyond that, I use reviews, along with sales, to gauge what I should work on next. If a book is selling well, but not generating enough positive feedback, then I consider moving on to something else. Any sequels I might write to a novel that isn’t getting a lot of high-star reviews probably won’t sell well. The readers aren’t interested enough in it.

Beyond sales and advertising and all that happy crappy, is the psychological factor or reading reviews. This can really screw with a lot of authors heads. Having someone absolutely eviscerate something you spent a year working on is tough, especially when you aren’t used to it.

The first review of Echoes, the now unavailable novella that started the Asher Benson series, was two stars.

That one bothered me. I’d never had someone rate and review a work of mine before, so having the first one shine a negative light on it was difficult.┬áIt doesn’t get any easier as your sales rise either. Instead of getting one or two bad reviews, you get dozens. Or hundreds.

As of this post, Ash has 1141 reviews on Amazon US alone. 80 of those are one or two stars. That’s for one book, in one country. Who knows how many Ash has across all stores in all countries.

That’s a lot of hate for someone experience.

So how do I deal with it? I’m hardened to it now. The bad reviews don’t bother me as long as they’re outnumbered by the good. My stuff isn’t for everyone, so I don’t expect each review to espouse the brilliance of my work. As long as the rating is high enough, usually over a four star average, I know that my core audience is digging it. I’m happy with that.

For other authors, dealing with it is a lot harder. I honestly know some writers who should avoid their reading their reviews at all. Easier said than done. Paying attention to the first few, to make sure one or two issues aren’t mentioned in each one, is a good practice. If everyone is spotting the same plot hole, you’re going to want to be aware of it. Beyond that, you might want to bow out of the review carnival.

But as bad as reading the rough reviews can be, the good ones make you feel like a million bucks. When I read someone mentioning how much something I worked on meant to them, it pulls at the ol’ heartstrings. It really is the best motivator to keep going.

I’ve rambled long enough. Leave a review for books you love. It helps.

Today, I edited 2583 words before the in-laws got here. Tomorrow will be another truncated work day, but I’ll return to the grind on Monday.

See ya tomorrow.