Friday, May 15, 2015

Writing Tip #14: Reviews

We've left the mini-series in this series of writing tips behind. Yes, we've gone through the basics of setting and world-building, plots and subplots, characters and minor characters. Now we'll head back to some tips, tricks, and other fun stuff having to do with writing.

If you don't all ready know: I get inspired to write a lot of what I write based on real events and this blog is no different. The inspiration for this post about reviews came from something that happened to me in January. So, STORY TIME!

I submitted Best Friends: Body Part Fairy to this horror anthology back in December. The people for the anthology said they'd tell me what was wrong with the story and why they hadn't accepted it if that was the case but never did. Side-note: if you say you're going to do something: DO IT. Don't tell an author you'll give them a reason as to why you didn't accept their story then don't. Because guess what? That author will remember you.

Sorry. ANYWAY. Said anthology didn't accept Best Friends but I knew it was supposed to be out around this time so I went to check it out. I then stumbled upon an author who shall not be named but we'll call him Volty. Yes as in a corny adaption of Voldemort. Stay with me. ;)

Volty has other books out. He has one book in particular with a rather crude title which turns out to be a collection of short stories. The reviews were good all except one. The interesting thing about this review is it had originally been two lines to the effect of "this is not a brilliant work of fiction and nothing makes sense."

Okay, why is this all important? Volty responded to said 1-star review by saying something like "My book got it's first 1-star review and the person said I don't make sense. They don't make sense." What happened? Said reviewer SAW the tweet Volty posted then WENT BACK and edited his review, not to make it better, oh no, to PROVE HIS POINT FURTHER.

Said 1-star review is what made me read Volty's book. I also agreed with said 1-star reviewer and did not end up purchasing Volty's book. What have we learned from this tale? DO NOT RESPOND DIRECTLY TO ANY REVIEWS GOOD OR BAD.

You can (and should) give general thanks to your readers for reading your book or leaving a review in the sense of "thanks everyone for reading and reviewing! Stay tuned for my next book!" You SHOULD NOT say what Volty said or anything near it because you WILL prompt a response and if the person started negatively, well, they're going to get more negative.

While any publicity is good publicity, it's not a good thing to be known as the "bad writer." You don't want to be known as the hack who doesn't make a lick of sense. You don't want people to buy your book to see what steaming pile of crud you made now. Generally speaking you want most people to like you.

The problem with reviews (like in Volty's case) is that ONE negative review is the one we tend to take personally. It's the one that prompts us to respond negatively and the one the keeps us up at night. Does it matter if we've got six 4 or 5 star reviews? Nope. It's the one 1-star that'll stay with us.

No matter how much it hurts: DO NOT RESPOND. You won't even have to. Why? Because the six other reviewers who gave you four or five stars will be the ones who will defend you. AND LET THEM. Don't even mention a 1-star review on your social media in any way that can be seen as an attack on the reviewer. You can however turn it around: "My book got it's first 1-star review. Check that off the bucket-list!"

Not everyone is going to love your work but you can't please everyone. As hard as it is: don't let those bad reviews get you down. Remember, a lot of famous authors were rejected and had bad reviews about their books but they're still writing.

And for the love of all that exists in every plane of every world: do not retaliate. If they're outwardly mocking you on social media: block them. If they're leaving bad reviews for the sake of bad reviews: report them.

How you respond to bad reviews is criticized as much as your writing. How you respond to praise is as criticized. Remember, you're in the public eye and how you present yourself will make an impression on your readers. Make sure you don't become a train wreck people only look at because of morbid fascination.

As for Volty? Eh, I won't make an effort to go looking for his books or reading his work. That response to one bad review was my first impression of him and I didn't like it. My second impression was his Twitter account in which there were 12 tweets that were being rotated through. Yes, 12 tweets over and over and over again which means he's got nothing interesting or detrimental to say.

You have to sell yourself. How you act on social media and how you respond to fans good or bad is a IMMENSE part of selling yourself. Don't crap on yourself before you even get started.

Until next time: thoughts, comments, rages, rants, questions, and out-right insults can be directed to the comments section.

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