Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sometimes We Learn Something NEW

Okay, I wanted to talk to everyone about reviews. If you've been in this business long you soon realize that a review won't make or break you, although a positive one certainly helps. But seriously, would you let a bad review break you? Because if you would, you might ought to give up writing. I've been in this business since the internet became a household word, and I've and good and bad. It's numbers that count in sales, not how someone did or did not love your book. The ugly truth is, not everyone is going to love it, and I realize that is hard to take. But once you've had a few reviews at some of the distributors you'll begin to see this.

Sales tell the story. If you have three reviews ranking 4 and 5 rating and one or two ranking 1-2, It averages out to a 3-4 average for your book. Which means the book was good enough to buy and read, maybe not the best but still good. Now by best I'm not talking Joe Blow but the biggies.

Now the interesting thing is, sales do not stop because you got a 1 or 2 rating. Let me give you an example. Chief Cook and Bottle Washer is a free book I’m offering from Smashwords and to distributors.

It cost the reader absolutely nothing. It has already been reviewed by top reviewers on line for several years. It has been edited by several e-publishers. So professional reviewers gave it anywhere from a 3-5 every time. Not once, but every time. Professional reviewers never rated it under 4. Readers are much different about their approach to books they spend their hard earned money for. Some really liked it and thought they had made a bargain. Others seemed eager to to announce their feelings about the book, I don't know if it wasn't what they thought it would be, or hated it.

Should a writer worry over those kind of reviews? No! No! No!

But they gave it a "1".

And granted a "1" is hard to swallow, especially if you've been writing a while and pretty much know what you are doing.

So live with it. Some people for whatever reason like to either be noticed for their attitudes or truly thought they were buying one book and got another. Should the author hang up his hat and never write again? No! If you have a reasonable amount of good reviews and someone else comes along and gives it a low rating take it with a grain of salt. You can't please everyone. Hold your head up and realize here and now, "It's one opinion." And truly a review is just that, someone's opinion. You as a writer cannot please the world, even though we would like to think we can, it's impossible. There are too many people out there and they all think a little differently.

To prove my theory about reviews to the author, I put Chief up on Amazon too, and they lowered the price to $0.00. And I'm still getting the once in a while bad review, along with the ones that loved it.

But here is the facts, they're still downloading it People still wanted to read it.

Now, to the reader who is influenced by the reviews I say, check the reviewer out? Have they reviewed many books, were they all negative? Did some glow a little too much, or all of them were negative? This is the real way to tell if a reviewer is doing a good job. A good reviewer will have a healthy mix of ratings for their books. They'll be fair and mention a few good things even in a bad book and visa versa. And remember, at places like Amazon and B&N we have ordinary everyday readers. With opinions. And I say this, read the book to see if it is as bad as they say. Then write your own review. Reviews are good as long as none of us take them too seriously. Sure they knock you out of the perfect 5 category, but real reviews given by real people are good. It helps us look at our work objectively. I encourage the reader to review books and to rate them and to remark about them. And a 3-4 rating can sometimes sell your book better than a perfect 5. Because you have some mixed reviews means you have some very honest readers who have opinions. A reader should always review or rate the book if they have the time. And they should be honest.

Chief Cook and Bottle Washer is a sweet romance. Some might have been expecting hot graphic sex scenes and didn't get it. I had one reviewer tell me how refreshing it was to not read a sex scene and yet still convey a good romance. No matter what anyone says about your book, it is still one person's opinion and you know that goes both ways. When you get a 5 is it because they really loved the story, or because they are a friend and couldn't let you down. Granted you need friends like that to balance the scale of reviews.

I had one lady tell me she thought Beyond the Dream Catcher was a cowboy story, when it reality it was a Indian story and she was delighted at the insight of the Shawnee Indians in the story.

I put a teenage short story up at a distributor and half the reviewers wondered why I stopped short. It was a short story, but it wasn't labeled nor categorized as as short story there. So some thought it lame that it wasn't carried through. Even though the distributor labels the kb of a story, they do not announce short stories, nor do they always put your story in a short story category. This can really throw the reader, however even after labeling it myself, some did not read that it was a short story, and that was in the blurb. To give example and to warn readers to check out the blurbs and info on the book first, because I had a historical labeled a Thriller and it was not a thriller nor meant to be, it is a historical western, so be careful.

Even if you do everything right as the author, write it, place it in the correct genre, write a fantastic blurb that anyone can understand and relate to, does not mean that someone won't buy it thinking much differently than you intended. So the results is disappointment, and a frankly honest review.

So I say this, don't let a review, good or bad stop you from writing more books, and don't let a reviewer make up your mind for you on a book. Decide for yourself, by browsing the book, the blurb, the reviews, the excerpts, the genre, the publisher and by all means the author. Then you will find yourself much more pleased with your purchase.

Chief Cook and Bottle Washer and Heart of the Wild are both free at Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/Redameter

and at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Rita+Hestand


Anonymous said...

Great post today, Tina! So true. It took a few bad reviews for me to fully understand this, but now I just let it roll off my back. Sales are what matter. :)

Amber Skyze

Tina Donahue said...

Great post, Rita. It's always hard to get a bad review, but as they say - it's one person's opinion. Not everyone thinks Brad Pitt is hot. Not everyone loves The Glades and Matt Passmore (like I do!).

Does that mean they're right and I'm wrong? Nope. It's just not for them.

As you said, not everyone is going to like your book. If you're going to dwell on anything, let it be the good reviews and those that give you insight into your story.

Delaney Diamond said...

So true, Rita, and something I had to learn as a new author. I've gotten much better at ignoring the negatives. Of course, it helps that my books are selling well and readers leave nice comments on my blog or Facebook.

I've had more positive than negative. I just write the best story I can. That's all any of us can do.

Rita Hestand said...

Well guys I'm trying to get in here to talk to you but the Blogger isn't recognizing me for some reason. Hope this goes through

Reviews as solely in the eye of that reviewer. So we take the bad with the good and count our sales. We cannot please everyone. Just don't ever give up writing because of them. Ever!

Rita Hestand said...

We have enough to make us feel inferior, for old self doubts always raises it's head from time to time.

I feel after all this time I'm not he best writer, nor the worst writer, but I am a writer. In "Oh God," the movie it is said, you can't have the sun without the moon, light without darkness. Good without bad. Life lessons we learn from our writing.

Don't let anyone put you down, just turn the other cheek, so to speak. LOL

Love and blessings

Fiona McGier said...

Rita, great insights. You are right about some people not paying any attention to the description, the blurb, the fact that it is a short story, etc. That pesky "reading and paying attention-thing", that some never do. Then they blast your work as "not what they expected"...duh.

And self-doubt can be a killer! But the characters in my head fight back, and they are louder than my own doubts...at least for now.