Once again the world has turned and I have with it; we are through another month and my perspective shifts and changes once again. June has been a bit of an upside down month with both highs and lows; through it all there has been one very clear message, one which tells me I need to develop a very thick skin.
Back in May I tried an experiment, which was to make one of my books free for five days on the Kindle platform. The book in question was my first novel ‘ Woman on the Edge of Reality‘ and the feedback I’d had to that point had been really positive. It’s a quiet sort of novel, no dramatic car chases or murders, just one woman’s journey into herself and her life over the course of a week in Cornwall.
However, I now realise I made a mistake including a page at the end of the book that encouraged people to tell me what they thought, with a handy little link to leave a review on Amazon! Given the positive reviews I’d already had and the direct feedback offline, I was reasonably confident all would be ok; I was about to discover how wrong I could be.
To say the reviews have been split would put in mildly. There are some great comments from readers and there are some which really tear at my poor, beleaguered creative soul; of course it is the latter which hold the most sway and to which I am continually drawn, like a moth to a flame. They all say the same thing, that the book is dull and boring and is about nothing but drinking tea; on the latter part they would probably be correct – I do talk about tea, a lot.
What surprises me though is that they almost all say that they are surprised they read the book to the end! And I’m surprised too because if I don’t like something I’ll stop reading it and not waste my precious time with it. I suppose I could take comfort from the fact that they haven’t said that it’s badly written; I guess that means that it’s just not a type of novel they find entertaining enough. The trouble is it still hurts when I read them and, after another sleepless night yesterday mulling over the latest ‘dull as ditchwater’ comment, I realised I had three choices:
- to ignore them and focus on the fact that (at the moment at least) there are more good than bad reviews
- to edit the page that encourages people to leave a comment – because I’m certain that the reason for so many is that I’ve made it very easy for people to vent their spleen on completion
- to pull the book off Amazon completely and start again
- to stick to non-fiction where I get great reviews and have no ‘personal’ connection to the content
Over 4,000 copies were downloaded during the free period in May which means that as those books are read I could end up with 4,000 negative reviews! In fact, I could be the first person to have the ‘worst’ set of book reviews on Amazon, which might be an achievement of sorts (although I’m not sure it’s one I want though!)
To counteract some of the comments I have revised the blurb (before anyone comments I do know I need to re-write it) and I’ve also stopped doing most of the marketing, allowing it to slip down the rankings so that it’s at about 38,000 on Amazon Kindle UK at the moment. It is still selling reasonably well at that level and given it started at something like number 1,500,000 it’s a great improvement on rank.
Having considered all the options I’ll definitely go with number 4 and stick to non-fiction in the future. As for my other choices I think I’ll wait to see what happens over the coming month before making a final decision on what to do to protect my fragile ego.
I’d be really interested to hear what other people do to cope with bad reviews on something like Amazon, let me know and perhaps we can come up with a solution that works for everyone – barring turning to gin of course 🙂