More than four months after publishing A Girl with a Knife I received my first 2-star review. Awesome, right? The reviewer even took the time to post it on both Amazon and GoodReads. She didn't comment on why she gave me my first below 3-star rating, so I'll assume my book was not her type. That's not my fault or hers. I checked her other ratings and saw that she gave 2 stars to Jodi Picoult's and Kristin Hannah's books. I'm in excellent company.
If this was my first rating, I'd be upset, but I have more than 50 ratings telling me that many more people like or even love my book, and only one didn't. What's important is that the reviews I receive are genuine and unsolicited. It's inevitable someone won't like my book, but even bad ratings boost my visibility. So, thank you to the 2-star rater, and I hope you find a book that suits you better.
Truth be told, aspiring authors fear bad reviews. Some choose not to publish or not to promote their books fearing criticism. This is a phobia well worth overcoming because someone among millions of readers will enjoy your story. Knowing that a reader across the globe from me is enjoying my book is a delightful thought.
Why is a bad rating overall a good thing? Here are some reasons: 1. It’s proof that your marketing reached beyond the circle of your friends and family. The people who know you don’t give bad ratings. Congratulate yourself on your marketing efforts. Selling the book is harder than writing for most authors.
2. The Amazon algorithm is a well-kept secret, but supposedly it’s about the number of reviews. I heard that fifty is the magic number. When we reach fifty reviews, or whatever criteria the algorithm is looking for, the book becomes more visible, comes up earlier in searches, etc. This means a bad rating is better than no rating. And this is why it's so important to post reviews! Please find a few minutes and post!
3. Some one-star or two-star reviews provide great feedback. I’ve interacted with one author who self-published an unedited book: big mistake. The first review told her that her grammar errors distract the reader from enjoying the story. She unpublished the book and hired an editor. Now she published again, and I hope her fresh start will be a success.
4. All my favorite authors, from Fyodor Dostoyevsky to Liane Moriarty, have bad reviews. Stephen King nicknamed criticism “The Village Vomit.” Some reviews are mean and make me feel bad for the authors. Here are a couple of quotes about Audrey Blake’s A Girl in his Shadow, a novel I love: “Tried giving this book a chance but decided watching paint dry on the wall was more entertaining.” “Too many good books to read versus garbage like this.” Ouch! Oh well, haters gonna hate. We, as authors, need to remember that it’s not us, it’s our work that is being criticized. We shake off the negativity and write another book.
You may ask, would I give someone a bad rating? Absolutely not! Nothing lower than a three, and if I liked it even a little bit, it’s a four. I support my fellow authors and giving someone a low rating, especially with no review, is not helpful. I post a review with the parts I enjoyed and what could be better in my opinion. If I’m in contact with the author, and they want my detailed feedback, I email my suggestions. The worst thing a writer can do is to give another writer a bad rating as payback for something. That's a cardinal sin. If you see this happen, report such a review to be taken down.
In summary, if you are getting a bad rating, think of Captain Jack Sparrow. If someone says, “You are the worst writer I ever heard of!” Respond, “But you’ve heard of me.”