The Thirty Minute Blogger

Exploring Books and the Writer's Life, Faith and Works, Culture and Pop Culture, Space Science and Science Fiction, Technology and Nostalgia, Parenting and Childhood, Health: Physical and Emotional ... All Under the Iron Hands of the Clock and That 30 Minute Deadline

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

New Writers: Don't Read Those Online Reviews

First book + bad review = PAIN
Okay, you new writer, you. You've published your first book and it has hit the shelves, both physical and Internet. Your book is available on Amazon and other online sales points. You start checking to see how you are doing. Amazon has a counter to tell you how your book ranks among the sales of all their books. If you're a Type A personality, this little counter alone becomes addictive. It makes you happy when the numbers go up, it makes you a pain in the neck to your publisher's marketing department when it doesn't and you start calling them to ask why. Then it happens. Someone reviews your book. You get one star or no stars. You slink away devastated, crushed, you and your baby have been rejected by the world. You want to paint the world black, you want to crawl under a rock, you want to die!

Reality check new writer: anyone can write those reviews and despite the claims that editors check them, there is not all that much that Amazon and their ilk can do to guarantee the veracity of the reviews received. They have a program that compares the writing styles of reviewers, but this largely catches authors who are giving themselves fake praise to pump up their ratings ... or are giving a competitor devastatingly bad reviews to electronically kneecap an opponent (shame on you for sinking so low). They can't do much more because they have a huge volume of books and couldn't possibly check all that comes in.

Even if the review is made by someone real, it could be someone angry that he or she wasn't included in your book and is writing in spite (happens in niche market books all the time). Or, as happened with one of my books on a form of antique ceramics, the person writing is a complete novice and knows nothing about what he or she is talking about. In my case, the admitted novice was angry that my book on a Victorian ceramic form didn't include every form or pattern and rated my book badly. What she apparently didn't know is that Victorian ceramics have 101 pieces in a table set and that particular type had over 1500 known patterns. Had I created such a tome it would have been so unwieldy no one could have ever lifted it or afforded it. Nor is my life long enough to write such a volume. I was not devastated by this review because I had been writing for a long time by the time this one showed up and I saw it for what it was. You, new author, don't have that perspective.

Save yourself the heartache and avoid checking the status of your book on the online sites. The reviews aren't written by professionals there and the folks who write definitely don't have your best interest at heart. Many of them have no idea what it takes to write a book in the first place and a great many of them will speak from ignorance (meaning the high praise from some will be worth just as little as the bile from others). Protect yourself, new author, and turn to your own marketing of your new baby. Enjoy this first published book. You'll never feel quite the same about a published book again (provided you keep writing ... which you won't if you take bad reviews to heart).

If somebody else is handling your marketing, then go start your next book! What are you hanging around here for?!

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