Sunday, July 6, 2014


By Mike Long

Anyone reading this is either published or hopes to be, and therefore is or will be interested in getting reviews on the completed work… or will be wishing the reviews had never been written.

Here's how it frequently goes: you finish your novel, do some sort of launch, get it on Kindle, then wait for the reviews. And wait. The first eight or so will be from family and friends plus a few authors who know how important these things are. And they are important. Not only do prospective buyers actually read them, some professional reviewers/bloggers won't even consider your work until you have ten reviews with an average four-star rating. All you need to suppress your average is your Uncle Joe (who thinks a one-star is good, and a five-star is bad), or an idiot who didn't like your subject/genre (and who knows nothing about the writing craft), or, Heaven forbid, several intelligent people who recognize your writing as awful (and don't know you well enough to fib or simply pass on the review).

Let's assume your writing is excellent. If you've gotten it past your SCWW peers, it probably is, so what's the problem? Well, Uncle Joe, of course; with him you can explain the rating system, slowly and distinctly, and hope he gets around to that retraction/correction. I still have one of those one-star ratings; he said he couldn't wait for the sequel. I haven't given him a copy. I also have a two-star zinger from a 'professional' reviewer who wrote that she couldn't finish the novel because of the violence. In my online rebuttal I pointed out that she was part of a paid service, wherein she'd read the synopsis explaining it was a WAR BOOK, and that she had then asked to review it. Her response was that she was just getting started, and that I was mean-spirited and made her cry, and deserved whatever I got.

My advice is simply never respond to a poor rating. Never. After my first free Kindle promotion, some troll blistered my first novel. Knowing he'd paid nothing for it, I responded (for all to see) "So sorry you didn't like it; give me an address and I'll refund the entire $2.99." Cute, right? WRONG. His response (for all to see): "Oh no. You can't buy a retraction. I stand by my rating."

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