So, you’ve finally done it. You’ve spent months, maybe years writing your manuscript. It’s finalized and ready for publication. The sales are coming in, so now you wait patiently for the reviews. Whether we admit it or not, it’s one of the main things that validates our talent. Getting a five-star rating and a wonderful, wordy text review from a reader who loved your book is one of the best feelings in the world. It can lead to potential sales, awards, and can even get you recognized by big names in the publishing industry. But very few authors are lucky enough to get all positive reviews. No matter how great of a writer you think you are, there will always be someone who didn’t like your book. Seeing that dreaded two-star rating may bruise your confidence, and have you asking yourself many questions. What did I do wrong? Was it my editing? Formatting? Maybe I suck and should quit writing forever? Truth is, there can be a million reasons why someone gives your book a low star. But there is always a light of hope at the end of that low rating, and more to learn about ratings and reviews in general.
On Goodreads I’ve noticed a trend of users leaving negative ratings for books, and if you click on their profile you often notice that every book they rate has two stars or less. With maybe a few three’s here and there. Some people get a kick out of negativity and are only willing to give feedback if they hate something. I’m sure we’ve all seen reviews or ratings for a product or service where 90% of them are negative, but you take a chance anyway and end up being pleased. So, if you notice this, maybe you should brush it off, and not take the rating to heart. Especially if you notice that these people never seem to leave text reviews, just ratings.
Have you ever been on a website like Walmart or Amazon and noticed that a product had a low rating, but you read the text review and it was positive? Weird right? I’ve been told but have always suspected that some people have the rating system backwards. You may also notice this with book reviews as well. Some people think that three-star ratings are considered good and have no real negative intentions behind it. While cases of this happening may be in the minority, a three-star review should at least be worth the extra thought.
Paid reviews are NOT real reviews
As a freelance writer, I have come across plenty of writing gigs on job boards that are paid reviews disguised as something else. These people are usually desperate writers and/or business owners who want to boost their sales and make themselves look good. The unfortunate thing is, it’s not always obvious if reviews are paid or organic. This is why most authors will tell you not to bother with reading your reviews. If you see a book by an average author that has 20+ reviews and 95% of them are positive, don’t let this intimidate you. Writing is not a competition, and you never truly know how that person got those reviews. Frankly, it isn’t anyone else’s business and doesn’t affect your craft at all.
Negative feedback can be a lesson to improve your writing
If you’re a writer who focuses too much on your negative reviews, and feel like they outweigh the positive ones, the issue might actually be you. Maybe your editing isn’t that good? Maybe your writing is sloppy and the story lacks something that makes it enjoyable? I know this because I’ve been there. I’ve made mistakes that have hurt my sales and gotten me negative feedback or no feedback at all. As writers, especially self-published writers we are always learning from our mistakes. No one is perfect, and sometimes it takes that negative review to set us straight.