Friday, April 1, 2011

Being a cry-baby will not sell books.

In the past few weeks, I’ve been sent links to various negative review articles by other reviewers where the authors being reviewed popped a vein in reaction to it. This is a rare occurence at Odyssey Reviews, mostly because of our policy of not posting reviews for anything that earns only 2 medallions or lower. I'm sure if we panned the bad books in our posted reviews, we'd get more negative reactions from some authors. I usually just tell the author in the kindest way that their book was not readable. I did however have one author react like such a big baby to the review; I changed some of the ways we do things around here at Odyssey Reviews, starting by disabling comments and writing this rather harsh post:

The hard truth is this; if you write to publish, you are exposing yourself to opinion. Period. If you don’t like negative opinions, then you should either make sure that you write like Austen, Steinbeck, Twain, Shelley, Dickenson, Whitman, Keats (None of whom were immune to criticism and negative reviews, by the way), or don’t write at all. My point is... Criticism Happens people! You are giving your work to the public and they are going to read it. Some may love it, some may despise it; it is par for the course; and authors, if you are not prepared to take criticism, you shouldn’t be publishing your work! It’s as simple as that.

It does absolutely NOTHING for your credibility to send lengthy, whining emails to your reviewers listing all the wonderful things other readers said or trying to sway the opinion of your reviewer by imposing other views on them. It’s not going to happen; you can’t MAKE someone like your stuff. I can assure all authors that reviewers are not purposefully sitting about, wringing their hands and smacking their lips; delighting in the notion of tearing your book to shreds for no good reason. If a reviewer is making a criticism, it’s 99.99999999% likely they have been given a reason to. Some reviewers might be more finicky than others, granted, but they are not setting out to make you cry. They are setting out to give an objective, but still personal view of a book.

Posting lengthy diatribe-comments on blog-reviews, or writing novella-length blog posts in rebuttal, arguing with the reviewer’s final opinion makes you look like a huge, snotty-nosed, blubbering baby and the readers who come along will be doubly-convinced not to buy your book. I personally have been known to buy a book in spite of some harsh reviews.

Let’s face it, if everyone listened to negative reviews, would Stephanie Meyer be a successful as she is? I don’t think so. People are still downloading Jessica Black's 'Friday' song in spite of HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of well-deserved negative reviews.

If the author has sold the package to me correctly, then even with a few negative words about it, I will still take that extra step and decide for myself. Amanda Hocking’s troll books are a perfect example of that. I read a number of bad reviews before I got them. But buy them I did. I downloaded all three books and found them worthy of 4 medallions. But if one of those bad reviews had a personal response from Amanda Hocking in the comments, decrying the review and proclaiming that the reviewer is victimizing her by forming and declaring unjust opinions about her work, and following her comments with nine more comments which are pastes from other reviews that were positive... Yeah... I’d arch my brow and shake my head and NOT buy anything by her ever again.

By acting that way, the author is blatantly telling their potential readers that they don’t trust them to decide for themselves and what’s worse; they are telling the reader that if they don’t like the book and they think it was bad, then the reader is wrong, wrong, wrong... Not exactly the best weay to show respect one's readers, is it?

If someone gives your book a negative review, to coin a perfectly apt internet acronym... STFU. Let your book stand up for itself. One or two negative reviews isn't going to be its end. If it gets nothing but negative reviews... then maybe that is destiny telling you that you should take up some other form of creative art.