Friday, September 14, 2012

{Guest Post} The Blessing of a Bad Review by Tracey Sinclair

Tracey Sinclair works as a freelance copywriter, editor and legal directories consultant. A diverse and slightly wandering career has included writing fact sheets for small businesses, creating web content for law firms, subtitling film and TV and editing one of the UK's largest legal directories.

A keen blogger, she regularly writes for online theatre site Exeunt and science fiction site Unleash the Fanboy and her blog Body of a Geek Goddess was shortlisted in the Cosmopolitan Blogger Awards 2011. Her work has been published in a number of magazines and anthologies and her short play Bystanders was premiered in 2011 as part of the CP Players New Writing Season at Baron's Court Theatre, London.

She has published two small press books (Doll and No Love is This, both Kennedy & Boyd) and is now dipping a toe in the digital self-publishing world with her new urban fantasy novel, Dark Dates.

Guest Post: The Blessing of a Bad Review

It seems like at the minute, every time you go online there is another scandal in the book world. Either it's bloggers and authors at war over bad reviews, it's fans attacking reviewers who don't like their favourite books, or, the latest scandal, it's services offering paid-for reviews (and, in some cases, to vote as 'unhelpful' bad reviews on Amazon). But as someone who's been in the writing industry for over 20 years - as small press and then indie author, a playwright, blogger, and, yes, as a reviewer - I have to ask: why are people getting so bothered? What's all the fuss of a bad review?

I know, as an author, what it feels like to read a bad review, and I won't lie to you, it's never fun. You spend ages and ages - months, sometimes years - slaving away over something, you put your heart and soul into it, and then someone who probably skim read it on the tube or with one eye on whatever TV show they were watching dismisses it out of hand! How very dare they! Clearly they are idiots who wouldn't know a good book if you hit them over the head with it ... etc, etc, etc. And that's fine: you can throw a tantrum, rant at your partner or your friends or even your cat about all these idiots who shouldn't be let near a computer ... but that's where you need to stop. In public, you never, ever react.

Go back to the review, when you're calm: maybe there are some valid points in there? Is there something you could have fixed, or points you could take on board? Some things may be easily mended; for instance, if you're an indie author and a reviewer says that the book was poorly edited or proofed or the cover looked cheap, maybe next time you just need to spend some money getting your next manuscript professionally worked on before you put it out there. If they say the story is confusing, or the writing sometimes not that clear - do they have a point? Think about what your beta readers said (and you should always, always have a team of beta readers to give you feedback before you publish - nobody in the world can properly edit or objectively judge their own stuff). Did you ignore any feedback from them that is being repeated by the reviewers? If so, you might have to accept they have a point. Look at the good reviews you are getting - are they saying similar things, even though they liked it? It's rare you'll get a review from someone who thinks your book is flawless.

Of course, you may also just think that the reviewer is stupid (who knows, they may be, there's plenty of dumb people in the world) or that they didn't 'get' your book. That can happen and, I'm afraid, you just have to live with: don't try and argue your case, don't get your friends or family to vote their reviews as unhelpful, and certainly don't badmouth them in any forum outside your own house. Every single writer in the world who puts their stuff out there will get bad reviews. Every book you loved, every writer you adore - someone, somewhere, will hate. Why should you be any different? And think of it this way - nothing looks more suspicious on Amazon or Goodreads than pages of perfect reviews: it looks like, at best, the only people who've read the book are your friends, at worst, you're paying people to say nice things. Throw in some one and two star reviews, and at least it looks like actual people in the world have read your book. Sometimes getting a bad review can prompt discussion, too - and people talking about your work is exactly what you want.

And do I need to even spell out why buying reviews is a terrible, terrible idea? It undermines the whole system, it tars all indie authors with the same brush, and you know what, it's bad for your writing. I know plenty of people in professional publishing, and it's not a kind industry. Buffeting yourself against genuine, helpful feedback means you won't ever get better, and sooner or later, your bluff will get called. Putting yourself out there inevitably means that some people won't like you: but that's part of what being a writer is. Authors who can't accept that are in the wrong job.

Author & Book Info/Links:

ASIN #: B007RH5PF4
File Size: 335 KB
Page Count: 246
Format: Kindle


All Cassandra Bick wants is to be left to get on with doing her job. But when you're a Sensitive whose business is running a dating agency for vampires, life is never going to be straightforward - especially when there's a supernatural war brewing in London, a sexy new bloodsucker in town and your mysterious, homicidal and vampire hating ex-lover chooses this moment to reappear in your life ...

Witty, sharp and entertaining, Dark Dates is a heady mix of vampires, witches and werewolves - with the occasional angel thrown in - and introduces Cassandra Bick, a likable heroine destined to join the ranks of fantasy's feistiest females.

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