Wednesday, October 1, 2014

IWSG: How Far Would You Go?


So, after a long hard struggle to write, revise and get yourself published, you find your book isn't selling as well as you expected or it has received some bad--even mean--reviews.  Yes, you probably look like the girl in the picture above.  

How far would you go to improve your rates/reviews? 

Here are things I've seen people do:
  • Go on forums or FB to say you've been horribly attacked and begging everyone on there to QUICK! go and write 5-star reviews for your book.
  • Upload "different editions" of your book onto Goodreads and rate them all 5-stars yourself, and then use their "Combine Editions" function so that all your 5-star rates appear on the new-and-only listing for the book.
  • Hire a company that promises you 10-20 "favorable" reviews for your book. 
  • Have your friends/family open different email addresses to create pseudonym accounts so everyone can rate your book 5-stars from several different accounts.
A book that isn't selling or receives insulting reviews can be very depressing, but no one ever said publishing was fun.  Like any art, it's viewed subjectively and while some will love what you do, others will hate it.  

I'm not judging those who engage in the activities I've noted above.  I know everyone's just trying to muddle through the best they can.  But all those activities won't stop future bad sales or bad reviews.  Those things are part of the business.  You can't please all of the people all of the time. Even bestselling authors get vitriolic 1-star reviews.  

Instead of spending your time being miserable or trying to game the system, it's probably better to write that next book.  And then the next one. After all, you're a WRITER!


Do you think anything is going too far to improve rates/reviews?



This is a post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. It exists so the community of blogging writers can share and support each other, blog-hopping to cheerlead and commiserate. To find out more, visit: Insecure Writer's Support Group. Plus, check out the IWSG Website for lots of helpful info and links.

55 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Bad reviews and low sales will happen. Just accept it and move on. Better yet, go write another book!

SA Larsenッ said...

What Alex said.

mshatch said...

No matter what, everyone isn't going to like my book or the next one or the one after that. Better to focus on and be happy about the people who do like my book and, of course, go write another one :)

Emma Adams said...

It's better to focus on the positives, especially the people who absolutely love your book! Reviews and sales are out of the author's control.

Chemist Ken said...

Wow, I didn't even know some of those tactics were possible! In the long run, though, those things just won't work. And writers definitely need to think long term.

L.G. Smith said...

As one who has yet to publish a novel, I can't really know how it feels to get mean reviews. But I'm with you, I think a person's energy would be better used to write the next novel rather than stress about something that is mostly out of your control.

Crystal Collier said...

I hear you! Big press stories that are amazing still get dragged down into the 3 to 4 star range by bad reviews. Some people are just mean.

E. Arroyo said...

Yeah, I've heard about paying for reviews and such. Sometimes I wonder how some books make it. lol. I go into goodreads knowing that while it offers benefits it comes with a price. these sites are for readers not authors and i keep that mindset when i do my author stuff. but as a reader, i wouldn't review anything under a 3 just because i tend not to finish them. But other reviewers have their own ways. I just keep writing. it's the only thing i can control. =)

Jennifer Hawes said...

You're absolutely right. Sometimes there is nothing you can do except write more books! If you go the traditional or self-published route, getting reviews is hard. Or getting varied reviews. All my friends and family and other writer friends want to give you 4-5 stars. There's really nothing you can do about it. Entering contests and letting your book speak for itself, is a good way to go:)

Elizabeth Hein said...

It's hard to not take bad reviews personally. It's a wise author that can distance themself from their book once it is out in the world.
Elizabeth Hein - Scribbling in the Storage Room

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Bad reviews have always been my greatest fear. But it also drives me to continually improve as a writer. Guess that's a good thing.

Shah Wharton said...

Flip me, never knew some of these tactics. Tragic use of time. I have one bad review, in that it's a two star, and I admit I choked back a sob. But when I read the review, she just didn't like where the events led the heroine - to kick parenteral bootie, basically. I told myself, no writer can please everyone. When I accepted that, I dealt with it and moved on. I still don't like anything review less than a four - I have an ego like everyone else - but I'm not going to send a rush of fake one's in there to make up for anything less.

Hello btw Lexa X

Catherine Stine said...

Yes, I have heard of some pretty nefarious tactics to drive sales. I try to stay on an honest path. I think devious methods will come back to bite people.

Kim Graff said...

This is all really a great point, Lexa! I didn't realize that some of those things actually happen — particularly the Goodreads one with new editions and combining them for a new "one" edition. Publishing is hard a process, there will be ups and downs. Like you said, just keep writing.

Jenni Enzor said...

It seems like those types of tactics would come back to haunt you in the end. The only thing you can do in these situations is try not to take it personally and move on. Bad reviews are one of the many things we can't control.

Ava Quinn said...

Fantastic advice, Lexa. I'm not for gaming the system, but then again, I've yet to be in that situation. Hmmm, maybe when I am, I can try that list! Ok, off to bookmark this post! (lol)

Kate Larkindale said...

It's amazing what people will do.... One bad review won't kill a book. Reading is subjective, and what one person loves, another may hate. Once the book is out there in the world, it belongs to the readers and as a writer you have to move on to the next one or you'll go insane worrying about those pesky one and 2 star reviews.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

It HURTS when someone says they hated your book. There's no getting around it. But if you want to be a writer, you will have to get used to it happening.

How far do you go to combat poor ratings? Anything positive and honest you can do to increase the chances of your book ending up in the hands of people who will like it is good. If it involves dishonesty or deceit of any kind ... JUST DON'T DO IT. People who engage in the activities above don't seem to realize how transparent they are. In the long run, they are more damaging than the original bad ratings.

Julie Flanders said...

I'm amazed what people will think up to try to game the system. I would be so embarrassed to ask friends or family to make up a bunch of fake accounts to write reviews for me! And I can imagine the reactions I would get LOL.

Andrew Leon said...

When you're trying to cheat the system to get your ranking higher, you've gone too far.

Birgit said...

When one puts themselves out there be prepared for attacks. Some will give great reviews, others will comment and give good criticism and others just like being mean. When one is creative, one often is sensitive because ones'heart and soul is in that project. So write that next book and keep going.

Munir said...

The important thing is that you wrote a book. That in itself is a great accomplishment. Reviews? there will be good and bad just like people.

stu said...

I used to do some work with someone who used to try to cheat the system. I found that the people who spent more time making things as good as possible tended to do better.

Laurel Garver said...

Wow, I didn't know at least half of these system-gaming methods. I agree with Catherine that these sorts of things do tend to backfire. I also liked Dianne's suggestion of finding ways to get honestly positive reviews in appropriate ways to counterbalance the negative. Sometimes finding audience can take a little extra effort.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

People do those things? The only one I've heard of is paying for reviews. Move on is great advice.

Kim Lajevardi said...

I agree that bad reviews are part and parcel of the game. Move on and write.

Jeff Chapman said...

About the only honest thing you can do is put a quality product and don't false advertise. Every thing else is out of your control.

DMS said...

It is hard to get a bad review! But, I agree with you to spend our energies writing our next book is way more productive. I didn't know about many of these tactics, but I did go to a conference once where someone advertised his reviews as "pay for review" and he offered people different prices for different stars. I was shocked and had no idea things like that happened! I haven't encountered that shadiness from anyone else- but I guess it must go on sometimes (but hopefully not often).

Thanks for sharing and good luck!!
~Jess

JeffO said...

The other thing to remember is that if you do any of those things and get found out, it could make things even worse. I've seen some pretty ferocious backlash directed at authors who try to game the system.

Lara Lacombe said...

I agree with you--better to keep writing than to dwell on bad reviews!

Stephen Hayes said...

So far I've yet to see my stories published, but I do remember how bad I felt when I spent weeks on a painting that people didn't like. Now that I've painted hundreds of paintings I just don't care as much. So I do think the secret is to stop worrying about being successful and sink yourself into the next project.

And take comfort in the fact that when God created writers and artists he made critics out of the scrap that was left over.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi, Lexa,

Whoa... those are some extreme tactics!

I've always believed in the positive to I would move on and write that next book, too!

As we all KNOW, if you have EVER queried, NOT everyone will like your book. SO try to harden yourself against those bad reviews... People certainly Can BE MEAN.

Like E. Arroyo said, I don't review less that three stars either because I usually put a book down if I feel it isn't written well.

LD Masterson said...

Gotta take some bad reviews in stride. It's all part of the business.

Although having a little voodoo doll that looks like an imagined bad reviewer can be fun.

Lynda R Young said...

Those family/friend reviews are so obvious and don't help one bit.
From my experience of reviews, when someone gives me a low star rating, I shrug it off because I just figure the book wasn't meant for them. There's a readership out there for every story.

Cherdo said...

I think I'd start reading those bad reviews and take note. I'm not sure I use any of these tactics, though - but I understand why someone might.

Gina Stoneheart said...

I was never a cheater... not with schooling, athletics, etc. I'm sure there are people out there who make up all of those fake accounts and beg family members to leave them 5Star reviews. BUT, in all honesty, how can a person improve themselves as an author if they are cheating their way through their career. Lies will get us no where but the truth will send our stories soaring. Not all reviews will help our books fly, but they will polish our knowledge and imagination for what we need to next time in order to reach further into the sky.

Suzanne Furness said...

Not everyone can like the same thing so there are always going to be people who dislike your work. Hopefully it's not personal and we can learn to roll with the good and the not so good reviews.

But then maybe that's easier for us, as yet, unpublished folks to say! Still, I think that is how I would want to be.

A. B. Keuser said...

Oh my gosh. You know I'd heard of/seen all of the things on that list, but seeing them put together in one place was a little startling!

Lara Schiffbauer said...

I had no idea people did stuff like that. I mean, that's just wrong. And it seems like a waste of time. It's feels nice to get positive reviews and have sales, but personally I wouldn't feel good about either if I had to deceive people to get them. :P

Medeia Sharif said...

I've seen some pushy, extreme behavior online. I see it as lazy marketing.

Lori L MacLaughlin said...

I didn't realize people did those things. I have to say those wouldn't be my choices. I agree that it's better to do your best to ignore the bad reviews and just write on. No one can please everyone.

Loni Townsend said...

I tend to analyze reviews to see what areas people took issue with, and if I might be able to use that to improve my writing in the future. But I suppose you actually need reviews to be able to do that. *sigh*

Carol Kilgore said...

The trolls are out there, and there's nothing we can do to stop them from leaving reviews. Like you and others have said, the best thing is to write the next story.

cleemckenzie said...

I think it would take me a lot more time to do any of those other things to boost my book sales. Writing another one sounds easier. :-)

Karen Jones Gowen said...

At first I thought you were kidding...No, I wouldn't do any of those. The best use of time is to improve one's own writing, and the best way to do that is to write more. Let the reviews happen, because they will one way or the other.

Jocelyn Rish said...

I know bad reviews hurt, but writers have to accept they are a part of the business, and we need more than thick skin, we need Ironman type armor. The best thing to do is look up your favorite book on Amazon and read the negative reviews for it, which just proves there are some people with no taste. :-)

Melanie said...

Honestly, I think it's ridiculous. People don't like their book? Then they should take it as a piece of motivation to improve or get over it, pretty sure there are people who still like the book anyways. It definitely hurts when there's negative reviews, but going under pseudonyms and rating it 5 isn't the way to go, I've also seen authors do it <.<

Milo James Fowler said...

That's what I was thinking, Lexa -- you nailed it. Go write something else! We're all entitled to our opinions.

Annie said...

Yeah, honestly I think all of those things are going too far! Bad reviews are part of this business. If authors can't deal with them privately, they probably shouldn't read them (and/or be in this business). Writing something new and better is just so much healthier!

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

I've learned not to worry about things that are out of my control, and there are a lot of things in the publishing world that fits in that category. I do the best I can and keep on writing.

Sarah E. Albom said...

People who leave insulting reviews are just plain rude. Unless they have constructive criticism, there is no point to write it.

Michelle Wallace said...

Hire a company or getting your family/friends to rate your book 5-stars...so it makes you feel better for a while...or does it really?
Sounds self-delusional. And what happens thereafter?

Romance Reader said...

It's way better to expand your energy writing the next book then stressing about the low ratings of one.

Inge H. Borg said...

Ah, the anonymity of the Internet; it breeds all sorts of comments. On the good side, I am getting to know so many great writers, bloggers and otherwise kindred spirits...on the other hand, there are the known trolls. I have one such sad misguided individual who gave all my books a 1-star on GR (no review); she ups the date periodically so it's always up front; even for a book that has been unpublished prior to that date....duh.
However, when a reader has a valid issue, I do listen and have been known to change things. Oh, that means, I am not perfect. Working on it, though.

Editors At Work said...

Its better to keep writing and build up a backlist as fast as possible- meaning you earning. Low ratings doesn't matter in the big scheme of things.

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