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What’s that? You got a bad review?

Aww… It’s all right. No, really, I understand. Come on over, pull up a chair. Yeah, that’s right. Get comfortable. Are you comfy? Good. Here’s a tissue. Wipe those tears from your eyes. Yeah, that’s better. Take a deep breath. You’re gonna be just fine. Now listen up, ’cause I’m gonna tell you all you need to know about “bad” reviews.

Don’t take bad reviews personally.

Yeah, I know. Easy for me to say, right? After all, I used to knock on doors selling insurance! Not to mention I’ve been married 3 times! –I mean, what can you possibly write in a review that’s gonna hurt my feelings?

Someone made fun of Saving Rachel for having 36 1-star reviews. I can deal with it. It helps that Rachel is the #1 download on Amazon/Kindle and has been for the past week. Of course, this will change, and I can deal with that, too, ’cause it’s the natural order of things.

I never received a bad review until I hit the top 100!

In your book’s infancy, you’re marketing to friends, contacts you’ve made, and their contacts. Your book attracts readers by word of mouth. They like you, recommend you, and your ratings reflect it. As your book goes “viral” and works it’s way into the top 100 it attracts readers who never heard of you. They buy your book for different reasons: they like the cover. It has lots of great reviews. It’s a best seller. And these readers will love it, hate it, or forget it. If they love it, you’ve got another fan. If they hate it, they blame you and the folks who gave you a good rating. Doesn’t mean your book sucks, and it doesn’t mean they’re petty, hateful people.

It simply means they aren’t part of your target audience.

Why do they get so angry? They wanted to like your book. They paid money, invested time, and most importantly, wanted to join your party, have fun, hang out with the cool kids, and be part of the group. They see those 50 great reviews and were hoping to “get” it. And now they feel left out. And sometimes they lash out. In the long run, it’s good for you, and good for them. They won’t buy your next book, and that’s one less bad rating you’ll get next time.

You’ll never get a bad review from your target audience.

Never change your writing to accommodate the ones who hate you. Do that, and your core audience will abandon you.

The more books I write, the fewer “bad” reviews I get.

Why? ‘Cause your first few books will attract followers and repel non-followers. After that, you’ll be selling to a higher percentage of folks who already like your work, which means fewer negative reviews. You’ll also get fewer positive reviews, ’cause your core readers have already invested time and effort to give you good reviews in the past. They feel it’s someone else’s turn. Saving Rachel hit the top 100 with 175 reviews. Follow the Stone did it with 6! This week, A Girl Like You hit the top 100 with only 2! Today it’s #29 with 3 reviews! As Girl attracts people who shouldn’t be reading it, I’ll get a high percentage of bad reviews unless my core audience steps up and fights for me by posting some positive reviews (Yeah, Chachi, that’s a hint! Step up to the bullies and defend my honor, will ya?)

The reason some people hate your book is the same reason your target audience loves it!

You better HOPE a lot of people hate your writing! ‘Cause if they don’t, you’re not very original. And if you’re not original, you’re not gonna stand out. And if you don’t stand out, you’re not gonna sell.

One last comment…

I like bourbon, my wife likes beer. My kids are too young to drink. You can pour the finest single-barrel bourbon in the world into a tumbler and set it on the counter of my bar, and it’s only going to be right for one out of the four people in my house. Are you gonna sit there and try to tell me that whoever created that fine Kentucky bourbon sucks at what he does because 3 out of 4 people give it a thumbs down?

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