Sunday, January 20, 2013
"If you believe your good reviews..."
Not too long ago, on Facebook, Joe R. Lansdale said, "If you believe your good reviews, you have to believe your bad ones, too." The comment struck me and stayed with me. Up until then, I'd been pretty lucky that the vast majority of Amazon reviews of my work had been positive. And all that kindness had worked wonders for my self-esteem, making the act of laughing off the occasional bad or indifferent review pretty easy to do.
In the last week or so, due to circumstances that I still don't quite understand, my work reached a much, much bigger audience than I was used to. Jon Bassoff at New Pulp Press put THE BASTARD HAND up for free on Kindle for a few days, and in that period something like 16,000 readers downloaded it. As if that weren't staggering enough, another 200 or so bought it the first day or two it went back to full price. I don't know where those big numbers came from, what sparked the surge, but I'm glad of it. The sudden interest affected most of my other work as well, and I saw a significant spike in sales all across the board.
I mention this not to brag or puff out my chest (I already did that part, over on FB) but to note that one of the results of this upswing has been a handful of new, less-than-glowing reviews.
"...you have to believe the bad ones, too..."
Bad reviews STILL don't bother me, exactly. So I hope I'm not misunderstood here. But reading them has caused me to evaluate the situation a bit. And I've concluded that there are THREE different types of bad review.
One: The useful kind. This is an honest, insightful review that can actually help you, the writer. It's the kind in which legitimate points are made and you can actually learn something from them. Obviously, this is the best kind of negative review, and you'd be a fool as a writer to get upset about them.
Two: The funny kind. The review that is so WAY off the mark that all you can do is laugh. You shouldn't worry about these, honestly; if YOU can see that it's a dumb-ass review, trust me, most readers can as well. It's not going to hurt you, so have a chuckle.
Three: The only kind that annoys me a bit-- the review written by someone who shouldn't be writing reviews. They either haven't read the work (I got one from a reviewer who admitted to reading only the first ten pages... um, you have to actually read it to review it, okay?), they've admitted a bias to the genre (would you review, say, a romance novel, good or bad, if you HATED romance novels?), or they're just practicing being snarky without any specific content ("This book sucks ass! I hate it!")
That's about all I have to say about that. But I want to reiterate: I can deal with the occasional bad review. I'm not THAT thin-skinned, honest.
And after all, I win in the end, don't I?