Friday, January 1, 2010

Reviewer's Tip - Bad Reviews

We all want to get glowing reviews each and every time.  When you receive a review, your heart may flutter a bit as you start to read.  Did the reviewer like my book?  Did he/she understand the subtle message I was trying to pass along?  Did the reviewer enjoy the, IMO, well-developed characters and many plot twists?  If non-fiction, did the reviewer appreciate the exhaustive research that went into the book?  Hopefully, all questions are answered with a resounding "yes" and your book has garnered another great review.  But what if the reviewer didn't like your book???


At Feathered Quill Book Reviews, as with any reputable review site, we're not out to "trash" any books.  We start reading each book with the hope that it will be a wonderful, enjoyable, and if non-fiction, informative read.  But if there are problems with a book, it's our duty to point them out.  It wouldn't be fair to our readers to declare mediocre books fabulous.  How the author/publisher handles the review varies greatly.


In most cases, authors send a polite thank you and many will acknowledge that the reviewer pointed out a problem they were aware existed.  Keep in mind too that when shoppers read reviews on Amazon, and each review is a five-star, "this book is the second coming" review, shoppers are leery.  They've become wise to the fact that authors get their friends & family to write reviews.  A review that points out a flaw will not, typically, unsell a book.  Rather shoppers are likely to believe it, understanding that there is no perfect book, and hopefully buy the book.  The old adage "any publicity is good publicity" tends to ring true.  


Reviews that completely trash a book frequently read as though the reviewer holds a grudge against the book, genre, or author.  They appear unprofessional and we believe few readers believe them.  


How should you handle a review that points out flaws?  We allow our authors the option of not posting the review.  If there are serious problems, that is probably the best move.  We've had numerous books that were well written but in need of serious editorial help.  In that case, we'll contact the author (we believe in going the extra mile) and alert them to the problem.  If the book is in pre-publication, the book can usually be helped.  We'll hold off the review until we get a corrected copy.  


When a review points out a minor flaw, we believe it's best to use the review, have it posted to Amazon, etc.  For example, we recently reviewed a child's book that was well written, with a sweet story.  However, the author did his own illustrations (even on the cover) and they were quite amateurish.  We had to point out the problem. and noted that readers should not judge the book by the cover.  It was actually a pretty good review.  But the author wanted the review pulled.  Big mistake.


A few final thoughts: 

  • A review is just one person's opinion.  Don't get angry, instead, move on.
  • If you get several negative reviews, then perhaps it's time to rethink your book.
  • Don't relegate that negative review to the closet.  There should be a usable quote about something the reviewer liked in your book.