The reasons (below) are from author Rainy Kaye, who can be found at her website and Book and Blog Services. These are Rainy’s words on why negative reviews are good for Indie authors:
Congratulations! You’re real. In the throes of self publishing and sock puppet reviews, it’s important to establish a piece of work—and the creator behind it—is honest. One of the surest ways to do this is by receiving negative reviews. Since nothing is universally loved, not even Harry Potter, then a book with only five-star reviews is bound to raise a few eyebrows.
Marketing: You’re doing it right. When a book is first born, it usually finds itself passed around from one loving supporter to another. And that’s okay. Eventually, though, your baby will have to find its legs and start exploring the world. That means it will be outside the safety of the village, and into the wild. And some things out there will want to have it for breakfast. In short, if your book hasn’t garnered a few negative reviews, you haven’t sent it out far enough.
Welcome to the classroom. Before publication, a book should have been revised, beta read, and edited. Even with all that, your manuscript likely only saw less than a dozen people. Once out in the world, it—hopefully—will reach hundreds, or even thousands of readers. Among all the voices, some might ring true with thoughts and opinions no one had considered before. Don’t dismiss constructive criticism just because it was accompanied by a one-star.
In the words of Picard. Anyone with even the slightest bit of knowledge about a marketing will tell you that word of mouth is the best way to promote anything. This means you need people to talk about the book. Negative reviews often generate conversation among readers. No need to get involved. Just let it run its course. Engaged readers pique curiosity along the way.
It’s good for the soul. Praise is nice. If you managed to see a book through from start to finish, you’ve earned all the bubbly feedback. But even Shakespeare had critics (and now entire classrooms pick his work apart). Sometimes it takes a negative review or two to keep us grounded and, therefore, real to our fans.
No one likes negative reviews. It’s okay to be privately hurt or even angry about them. Rant to a friend, take it out on the punching bag, or indulge in a whole gallon of ice cream (not the fat free kind, either). Just keep in mind that in the end, you need negative reviews. They’re part of being a real writer.
Fantastic advice, Rainy. Makes me feel much better about my own negative reviews.
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+Jason Matthews author
January 30, 2013 at 8:57 am
Great advice – thanks. I’m in the process of editing my first book and suffer from the perfectionist streak. I realise that it’ll never be perfect, so I have to just get on with it, and yes, suffer those negative but (hopefully) constructive reviews.
January 30, 2013 at 9:01 am
January 30, 2013 at 7:49 pm
Jason, I totally agree. I had such a stinker of a one star review for one of my books I actually blogged and tweeted it because I thought it was so bad it was good — and saw a small spike in sales immediately afterwards. So it obviously amused/intrigued a handful of people out there.
January 30, 2013 at 7:52 pm
I love it–a sales spike after a negative review. Hopefully there’s a correlation.
February 3, 2013 at 10:16 am
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