Reviews, life or death for a writer

Hi there,

I recently entered a conversation on Facebook on a writers community page where someone was complaining about receiving a 1 star review. I can understand the consternation the person felt at the review because it was a ludicrous thing anyway. The reviewer gave the book 1 star and said, “I gave it one star because I haven’t read it yet”

The consensus of opinion was twofold, firstly that she should ignore the review as it was ridiculous and secondly ask for it to taken down.

These opinions seem to be in opposition but both are valid, I’ll explain. Firstly she should not allow a bad review to get under her skin or it would affect everything she does from then on. As writers we have to cultivate a thick skin because the business is rife with nay sayers who love nothing more than to pull you down to their level and if you allow negative comments to affect you then they have won. Writing is like any performance art, totally subjective in the viewers eyes. In that respect the truism of you cannot please all the people all of the time was never more valid.

Secondly, the writer should ask Amazon to take the review down as it is not relevant to the product on sale. For this I sincerely hope she has adequate lung capacity for if she were to hold her breath while she waited I think she would soon expire. I doubt Amazon would comply with this issue as I have had a similar situation and had no luck whatsoever in getting them to even acknowledge my complaint let alone comply with my wishes. When I first published Ronin I asked for reviews and I received a rather negative one with a 1 star rating. I, of course was mortified that someone could find fault with the book I had laboured over for many hours and yet here it was in black and white. The review tore it apart and he even admitted to only reading 15%. After I had calmed down and dried my tears I took a look at the points raised. After consulting with a friend who had also read the book I decided to change certain things and republish. I am now on the 3rd edition of the book which has a new Prologue and new cover artwork and has earned a couple of 5 star reviews and yet that very first review still stands. No matter how many times I contact Amazon asking them to take it down as it doesn’t relate to the item now on sale it still remains. So if this other author wishes to go with this route then I wish them the best of luck for they will most certainly need it.

A lot of the comments on the page were encouraging this writer to ignore her lone 1 star review saying it meant nothing. What most of them failed to realise is that  that 1 star review as meaningless as it was in respect of her work would bring the average of her rating down just by its presence. Some said that it would be good for the author as it would bring balance and that readers can sometimes be wary of all the reviews on a prospective buy being 5 stars. I disagree with this. Yes todays readers are more discerning on what they are looking for and in that respect I think a 1 star review could put off some people. It’s a difficult thing to persuade potential readers to purchase a book online at thebest of times so in my opinion if you give any of them cause for concern then they could move on to something else.

I have said this before, reviews to a writer can be a matter of life or death for a career and I don’t think Amazon’s cavalier attitude to governing how reviews are posted is helping us as writers. Until they get their act together though I suppose it’s something we will just have to put up with. To help that the only thing we can do is ensure our work is the very best it can be and hope the reader rewards us for our endeavours.

That’s all for now, see you soon



About jandomagala

Having worked in the ceramic printing industry since leaving school in the early 70's I've had a passion for the written word. I started writing in the 80's and since discovering the self publishing world have finally seen the first part of my ambition come to fruition, my name in print. Now with the help of wordpress and other promotion tools I hope to see the second part of my ambition come true, to earn a living from writing.
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