“If I’m ever short of money, at least I know I can write this badly and still sell books to make extra cash. ” [11 readers agreed].
Those few word transmit the review plague. Every indie author is at risk of becoming infected and only the wisest avoid becoming a susceptible host. Not a day goes by that a review rant by an indie author somewhere does not land in my mailbox or my Google+ feed. My word! I recently ticked one of those links and discovered a 1000 word rant. The indie author was incensed that a reader posted a one star review. Bless me, but the the blog was smokin’ hot. Moreover, all of the author’s pals were full of empathy and posted their own grievances in no less than 47 comments. The reader had posted a mild one star review that said: “The book isn’t what I thought it would be. ”
The author complained, “Why didn’t he read the #%$#@# blurb? Can’t people read any more? ”
Hey! If the cover sells a book or it was free or discounted, readers download the things. That is what we want them to do. That’s a sale!
Here is something else. When I was a newbie and Eating Stupid for Breakfast I put one of my titles in Literary Fiction, Family & Relationships. It started gathering a few one and two star reviews. One said: “Nothing is happening. It never does.” Well, golly, I write sweet, character-driven stories.
A relationship happened. The book was in promotion and #1 in Kindle Store> Kindle eBooks> Literature & Fiction> Literary Fiction> Gay & Lesbian. Oops. That poor reader read the whole blamed book waiting for that grand passionate moment that never materialized. The reader had a legitimate complaint. My Fault. I went at once into Amazon and moved the book into a different category. Does it still pull low starred reviews. Yep. Got one sitting on it right now: “Meh, not for me.” And another two star: The reviewer complained that the mother character in the book didn’t provide her children with Gameboys and other electronic toys. She complained that the author must be from another century because she didn’t know anything about computers. Tell you what: She nailed me. I use my computer as a glorified typewriter and little else. How about these reviews, plucked randomly off of books on Amazon:
“If you want to pull your hair out in frustration, gnash your teeth and have your eyes roll to the back of your head in disbelief, then this book is for you. ” [67 readers agreed].
“Wretched, Dreadful and Boring, I’ve never felt compelled to write a review. This book changed my mind.” [22 readers agreed].
“UGH!!!! Do I have to finish this book????!!! So bad. Can’t even describe this. There are no words.” [20+ readers agreed].
Here is what I know. People like to be spoon-fed information. They don’t like to read instructions. A book description in its own way is an instruction for a reader. Some will glance at the price, find it FREE and download it. Another may glance at the cover, a sentence or two in the blurb, and download it. And the book will not be the kinds of story they are in the mood for or were hoping to read.
I have a ghost in one of my titles, but it is in no way a paranormal. Readers see ‘ghost’, download it and dislike it. I do the very same thing. So, it is not fair that we expect a reader to do more than we would and often do. This happens, too: I have five star and 3 star reviews on my titles that ain’t for my books. Avid readers get confused. Muddled minds happen to the best of us.
Listen up. Amazon created the world of digital reviews. Yes it did, to help bring attention to ebooks, because Amazon needed authors, readers and buyers for Kindle, a new innovation in the book universe. Prompting readers to write reviews brings traffic to Amazon, where it tempts us to buy every dang product on the site. Everytime I finish a book on my Kindle Fire, Amazon messages me to write a review. Yep. Early on writers leaped into the digital universe and often published unedited, badly formatted and terribly covered books. Next, a raft of promoters arrived on the scene and began demanding ebooks with 10 or more reviews with at least 4.0/5.0 review rank in order to accept a submission. Reviews are getting better because ebook are getting better. They are beta read and edited and professionally formatted and covered. Indie authors are learning… We are maturing. So is our industry. Reviews are a tool. I liken reviews to a pair of pliers. You don’t eat them, you don’t sleep with them and you don’t hug ’em. And you dang sure don’t blame the pliers when a rusted nut breaks off. There is absolutely nothing you can take to avoid this plague. Your only immunity is intelligence. Lacking that–tolerance.
Reviews are lagniappe, a little something extra, a gift.
A book is not entitled to sales, nor is it entitled to reviews. Sales happen when we promote our books and get them in front of readers. Appreciate your readers. Whatever you do, DO NOT gather a bevy of your fans and friends to go on Amazon and tick those one and two and three star reviews as unhelpful. Reviewers don’t like that. This happened a few weeks ago. An author dismayed with a review did just that to a three star review. The annoyed reviewer went in ticked the book a One Star and commenced to detail every flaw in the book. And said why.
To gather organic reviews from readers who enjoy your book, put this golden gem right after THE END:
Thank you for taking time to read [title]. If you enjoyed it, please consider telling your friends or posting a short review. Word of mouth is an author’s best friend and much appreciated. Thank you again. [author name].
For more on Reviews by a TOP 1000 Amazon and Goodreads Reviewer, Julie Whiteley, go Here. Read about the Good, the Bad & the Ugly.