I belong to the "better to laugh than to cry" school of thought when it comes to reader reviews.
If you are a writer with a published book--whether trad print pub or indie pub--then you have some experience with reviews.
As soon as you pull those daggers out of your respective backs, leave a comment about your review experience.
Readers Saving Literature
Yes, there seem to be hundreds, if not thousands, of readers who feel the burden of saving literature from the evil known as indie published books. Just ask any of them, and they will tell you how awful indie books are, how shoddily formatted, how utterly pedestrian, how poorly edited, and how completely lacking in any redeeming value those books are.
In fact, many of these readers have banded together in discussion forums and talk about tagging indie pubbed books with negative keywords and leaving scathing reviews just to make sure these books don't succeed in hopes that Amazon will pull indie books and leave only the beautiful traditionally print published books in ebook format for them to revel in.
Ah yes. Traditional print publishing that never makes mistakes. Oh, you want to know about that book that had an amputee as hero--except when he had a love scene and was grabbing the heroine with both hands? I won't name the author because she's super-talented and sometimes stuff just gets by you when you're caught up in the writing. However, it does seem that some of the editors at Major Publisher would have caught it.
Oh, you want to know about those typos you see more and more frequently in print books from major publishers? Well, sometimes, stuff happens you know.
Oh, now you want to discuss that Harper-Collins book filled with typos?
Of course, these indie-haters gloss over the same mistakes when they come from big publishers. Can you spell double standard?
You know, I don't know of any writer who expects to never get a bad review. We all do. If the review is legitimate, we can live with that. However, most reader reviews sound like a snark convention with every reviewer trying to out-snark the next.
The great anonymous Internet allows people to say nasty things in reviews that may impact your ability to sell books and earn a living. In person, those people would never say the same thing to your face. Why? Because they're probably decent people who have been taught not to insult someone to their face.
But saying it in a review is like saying it behind your back. They don't have to look at you and see the look on your face when you read their words.
Writers don't like the reviews that say nothing about why the reader found the book lacking. Reviews that say, "This book wasn't worth $.99," aren't worth much. Why? Because reading is highly subjective. What's not worth the money to one, may be priceless to another.
Reviews should address the elements of the book, not how the reviewer perceives the author or her subject matter or the genre in which she chooses to write.
What I've Learned
As I write this, I worry that some of these indie-haters will decide to scourge me with bad reviews. If so, perhaps enough people will like my books to then go post a good review.
1. The one thing I've found in my indie book career is that readers either love my books or hate them with a vengeance bordering on insanity. Little in-between. If you have a very popular ebook, chances are you will experience the same.
I've had a scathing review publish, followed immediately by one that said my book was the best they ever read. Same book. Since I always got good reviews on these books when they came out in print, it's a little weird to get so much polarization with them as ebooks.
2. Most reader reviews are like brittle chat at a cocktail party. Don't take it personally.
3. Pricing is a big issue. All the indie-haters immediately think a $.99 book is indie published, and, of course, that means it sucks. Look for reviews that say how much they hated the book with qualifiers like "that's what you get with a 99 cent book" or "not worth $.99 as expected." For too many, price is a predictor of the value.
4. With pricing, you're damned if you do; you're damned if you don't. Readers bitch about high pricing because they don't want to pay it; they bitch about low prices because they equate that with low quality.
5. When you get your first negative review, visit dozens of other sites of popular ebook authors and read their reviews. You'll see that you're in very good company.
6. If you must read bad reviews, see if there's any objectivity with a mention of any element that you might need to address. If more than one reviewer mentions the same thing, check it out. Don't blindly assume that they're wrong, and you're right.
Reviews are just one person's opinion. Don't internalize the negative comments, and don't become arrogant over the positive ones.
Note: If Joan Reeves aka SlingWords helps you get ahead, please consider buying one of my books (Written Wisdom is perfect for writers--readers too!), subscribing (only $.99 per month) to the Kindle Edition of SlingWords,or making a donation of any amount by clicking the button below. Thank you for your moral support and any monetary support you see fit to contribute.