Tuesday, 8 January 2013

What if my book on Amazon gets a bad review?

No matter how brilliant your book, sooner or later, someone will give it a bad review and you are going to hate it. You may even be convinced it's responsible for a sudden drop in sales.

Now you would expect that if the bad review was on Amazon that it would be hidden away from prospective readers to encourage sales but Amazon's policy is to be open about bad reviews and not hide them.

Why did you get a bad review?

If you read an unfavourable review you'll quickly find it will fit one of these categories:

  1. The reader didn't like the story because it didn't match his/her expectations. Maybe they expected a medical thriller and saw only romance.
  2. The reader wrote a detailed review pointing out flaws in the plot and explaining why they spoiled the story for them.
  3. The review picks out spelling, grammar and formatting problems. That is your problem - make corrections urgently.
  4. The reader had problems downloading or displaying the ebook. That hopefully should not be your problem but you might like to make Amazon aware of that.
  5. The reader wrote a review which has nothing to do with your book! Maybe they have reviewed the wrong book?
  6. The review is obviously hateful and indicates flaws which don't exist, trashing your book.
We've had our share of poor reviews
for our free book - Immortality Gene
(and some brilliant ones).  We changed
the description, edited the book again
and bit our tongue over the #5 and 6.
If your poor review is #1 then it may be that you have to look again at your book description and the genre it's placed in. You'll quickly recognise the truth or not of what the reviewer is saying. let it be a learning experience.

For poor review #2, again learn from the review. Maybe your story needs revision? I doubt there is an author in existence who does not believe their work could be improved upon later.

Review type #3 means you are going to have to work harder at the proofreading stage or better still, employ a professional editor and a book formatter to do the job properly. One other cause for a spelling comment in a review is where the reader is unfamiliar with standard English spelling from a different country. Those writers from England, Canada and Australia often get taken to task over their spelling by reviewers from the US. They are apparently not aware that the words 'colour', 'centre', 'tyre' and 'defence' are not spelling errors.

Reviews #4 and #5 might be worth mentioning to Amazon. In the first case the reviewer should have the opportunity to download a functional copy of the book. In the second case it may be a reviewer error which can be withdrawn and applied to the correct book.

It's type #6 that is the greatest problem. If it contains swear words or personal attacks then complain to Amazon. This would be against their guidelines and aught to be removed. Amazon will not remove other reviews since everyone is entitled to their opinion. It may be the reviewer genuinely hated your book. If that's the case - why did they bother? It may be that this review was placed by a competitor in your genre who is deliberately trying to move you down the top 100 lists so that their book can take its place. Something like this would be very hard to prove. Unfortunately there are people who will do this! It's possible also that you may have offended someone and they are taking it out on your book. As an author you must learn to be very careful in what you say in social media sites. You do NOT want to create enemies on Internet who know about your books.

So what do you do to correct the #6 review?

The best advice is - do nothing! Try your best to ignore it and hope that you'll get more favourable reviews to overwhelm the poor one.

Whatever you do, don't comment on a bad review and draw it out into a discussion. All that will do is to draw further attention to the poor review and make it's position on Amazon more prominent. You might also put more people off by your attack on a review. If you really must make a comment - do so either as a separate review or better still by making reference to it in a favourable review you have. That way the favourable review will gain prominence.

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