What To Do When You Get a One-Star Book Review

 

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It’s really up to YOU what you do when you get a one-star review, but I can tell you what I did.

I announced it on Facebook and Twitter – “Just received my first one-star review on Amazon. I have ARRIVED!”

I really try to make it a habit to tell the truth about my experiences, both on my personal Facebook page and on my writing-related social networks. Yes, I will surely post online if I get a great review from a book blogger or if by some miracle I ever become a bestselling author, but I also make it a point to be totally upfront about my shortcomings. I think this is helpful for other writers to know that they’re not alone.

Getting a one-star review is simply a fact of life for writers. Since the day I published my first book on July 9, 2014, I knew that it was inevitable that I would get some bad reviews. I knew that, eventually, somebody was going to hate my book and have no qualms in telling me about it. My biggest fear was that the first review I received would be negative. That fear was unfounded, thank goodness. The first review I EVER got was a five-star review from someone I did not know. Believe me; I’m still excited about that.

Readers sometimes give one-star reviews for no good reason. If the book was well written, but simply not a reader’s cup of tea, he may blame you for it. She may one-star it if there’s too much violence in your book or not enough, or if she’s offended because you used a naughty word or two. Sometimes he just did not like your book, and that’s okay. Not everyone will. You might totally disagree with the reader, or you might even think the she has a point. If the reader is upset because there are typos and grammatical errors in your work, then you’ve got a problem that you really need to address if you’re hoping to succeed as a professional writer.

Some writers don’t read their reviews, and that’s fine. Personally, I do read mine because I think it helps to know what my readers like and what they don’t. Great reviews are wonderful, but critical ones can actually help you improve your writing.

The book in question here, QUEEN HENRY, has a somewhat controversial ending. Although the book does contain a male/male relationship, I never said the book was a gay romance novel. It’s not – rather it’s LGBT Fiction. (SPOILER ALERT) The book has a somewhat bittersweet ending, as the lovers do not end up together due to circumstances beyond their control. I can completely understand that a reader might be disappointed if they read this book thinking it’s a romance. A reviewer for Baltimore OUTLoud (an LGBT newspaper) gave the book a terrific, front-page review. I met the reviewer, Steve Charing, in person and he told me that he had initially been disappointed in the ending, but the more he thought about it, the more he realized that was how the book needed to end.

Madam One-Star Reviewer was ANGRY about the ending. Her review was entitled OMG I AM SO UNBELIEVABLY ANGRY RIGHT NOW! I FEEL LIKE I WAS ROBBED OF MY PRECIOUS TIME AND ENERGY! She even said “I plan to diligently avoid this writer from now on.” (I’m pretty sure she got the book as a free download, so I’m not exactly crying in my beer over that loss….)

Sure, it made me a little sad to get a one-star review, but I really wasn’t too upset about it. I understand why she feels the way she does. She called the book a gay romance novel (again, it’s not, and was never marketed as such). She was not the only one who was sad about the ending, but the vast majority of readers understood the point of it. The story is about a homophobic guy who takes a strange pill and becomes temporarily gay. He falls in love with a man and learns an important lesson in the process, but then the effects of the drug wear off. He and his boyfriend still love each other, but are no longer lovers (Reviewer said just because he’s not gay doesn’t mean they can’t stay together. While this is true, that’s not what my character chose to do. )His boyfriend ends up happy with another man and Henry later has a girlfriend, so it’s not a horribly depressing ending. Some readers were disappointed that Henry turned out to be straight after all. However, I didn’t want to tell the story of a man who was struggling with his sexuality and realizes he’s gay. I wanted to tell the story of a straight, homophobic guy and who becomes temporarily gay so he could undergo a life-changing experience.

The thing is – this one-star reviewer CARED. She cared for Henry and Thomas, and was mad that they broke up. She even claimed to like most of the book until the end when she threw a tantrum and posted her opinion online. It’s nice to know that my book emotionally resonated; that’s better than indifference.

It can actually be a good thing to get a one-star review. First of all, people know that at least some of your reviews are real and aren’t just from people you know. I can’t help but be curious about one-star reviews, and I tend to click on them to see what the reviewer hated about a book that I’m thinking of reading. If a one-star reviewer rants that there’s bad language and too much sex in the book, that’s not going to be a deterrent to me. In fact, it just might make me hit that one-click purchase button!

Whatever the reason, when you get a one-star review (and you will) know you are in good company. Look at any author, even bestselling ones. They ALL have some bad reviews.

When you get a bad review, take a few minutes to think about it. Do you agree with what was said? If not, move on. If you think the reviewer has a point, think about what you might do differently in your next book.

Whatever you do, don’t lose any sleep over it. I know I didn’t.

 

Linda Fausnet

 

 

In What Formats Should I Publish My Book? An E-Publishing Writer Survey

 

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I recently conducted a short survey of five self-published authors to find out where they chose to publish their books and what they experienced with each format. I hope you find their information helpful. I certainly did!

In which formats did you publish your e-book? (Amazon (Kindle) Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iPod, iPad), Kobo, etc)

Initially, in Kindle, Nook, and Kobo, through CreateSpace, Smashwords, and Lulu. Now, I’m Kindle only. I’ve found the income from Kindle Select borrows exceeds the others combined. – Wayne Stinnett

Amazon Kindle. – Carol Hedges

I published in every format I could! .mobi (Amazon/Kindle), .epub (B&N and Apple), .pdf, .html. However you want my book, it’s available. – Aria Glazki

Amazon (and also used CreateSpace for paperback). – Olga Montes and John Vamvas

I self-published for Kindle, Kobo, Nook, iBooks, Sony eReader (which is now part of Kobo I believe), and also in paperback which is available online at Barnes & Noble, and Amazon. – Jessica Gollub

I used a doc. file to publish in Amazon. – Lorraine Koh

Amazon, because I wanted to use the free book facility as a promotion tool for Back to Creative Writing School, and you can only do that if you are only available on Amazon. I did a 24 hour giveaway about three weeks after it was launched and that resulted in about 1300 downloads, mainly in the UK and the US. I don’t know how that compares with other ebook campaigns but it exceeded my expectations as I didn’t have an ebook track record. As a British author, it would be very interesting to know if I could have accessed a wider market using other formats. – Bridget Whelan

I published my book, Read All About It, on Amazon (Kindle). This was mainly due to the fact that I was also publishing it as a paperback through Amazon’s CreateSpace platform, and it seems to be logical to do the ebook through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), particularly given that CreateSpace offered the option to transfer the finished file to KDP. It seemed like they were doing the work for me! – Paul Cuddihy

Describe your experience with uploading/publishing your book. Were certain formats more difficult than others?

CreateSpace was a breeze. Easy step by step directions. Smashwords was troublesome, as was Lulu. – Wayne Stinnett

I did it jointly with the graphic designer who designed the cover. I am a total novice. We downloaded the advice package Amazon provides and followed that. It was still very complicated as the blog I wrote on it describes.  – Carol Hedges

My favorite by far from a user perspective was Barnes & Noble, because after uploading the document, if there are any issues with spacing or the like, you can edit it right through their system, rather than changing the original file, re-uploading, and hoping it fixed the problem without introducing a new one. That being said, Smashwords has a very user-friendly guide for formatting that is free, and I used that, then used that file for Amazon as well. So Barnes & Noble was the easiest, but the others weren’t particularly difficult either. – Aria Glazki

It is VERY easy to upload your e-book on Amazon. We did not have to convert our Word file into anything, we only had to compress the author pics and other pics we included in the back. (This was a little difficult to figure out – the pictures just weren’t coming out. After some on-line research, we read that all we had to do was compress the pics. That’s it. The command is found in the Picture Tool menu.) HOWEVER, when we use the view tool, it seems the novel looks great in all devices expect in Kindle Fire(s). Strange…

(And if you’re curious about CreateSpace : It’s super easy too! If you’re designing your own front and back cover—like we did—, it may take a little longer to come up with something you’re happy with, but they have great templates you can choose from if you prefer. Moreover, their customer service is great and the finished product is gorgeous.) – Olga Montes and John Vamvas

I found most of the uploading services were fairly straightforward and easy to use, the trickiest thing was figuring out how to get the broadest exposure. The easiest ones were Kindle and Kobo, since both provided direct publishing straight from their sites, for all the other ones I needed to use an aggregator service (partially because I am in Canada and I think while Nook has the ability to publish directly, I wasn’t able to make use of it) – Jessica Gollub

[Amazon] is a good format to use when your manuscript is mostly text. I don’t think it will translate as well if you have images in your doc. file. Overall it was easy to format. Just be aware of placing page breaks after each chapter and also providing a linkable table of contents (TOC). You can do everything on Microsoft Word or OpenOffice. After you format your doc. file, you can just upload it on Amazon and preview it first before publishing. It may take a few hours for it to be live.  – Lorraine Koh

As I explained, I chose only one format. Fellow ebook authors told me that the publishing process is simple but I didn’t feel ready to take it on – instead I engaged the services of a professional to format it for me and for a small additional fee  he also uploaded it to Amazon and did a bit of virtual hand holding.-  Bridget Whelan

In terms of KDP, what I found was that a pdf was uploaded from CreateSpace. This was fine for the cover, but I found it didn’t work so well for the text. For one thing, the pdf was formatted for a paperback, and it didn’t look great in a Kindle format. So what I did was to keep the uploaded cover but then create a completely new Word Document for the text, format that and then upload that file to KDP, which worked much better, and meant that I was able to ensure things such as page breaks, chapter breaks etc… were properly formatted. – Paul Cuddihy

Did you use an aggregator service, such as Smashwords or Lulu? If so, what was your experience like with the service?

Deleted my accounts with Smashwords and only offer hardback through Lulu. I do everything through CreateSpace now. – Wayne Stinnett

No, I didn’t explore these. – Carol Hedges

I just gave this away, but I did use Smashwords, which was very straightforward and on the whole provides some good resources for writers just starting out, with their formatting guide and marketing guide. They also distribute to Kobo, Apple, etc. for you, putting managing all those sales in one place — but they leave the decision of which to include in your hands, which I think is lovely. The writer stays in control. – Aria Glazki

No. – Olga Montes and John Vamvas

I did use both Smashwords and Lulu. Lulu was the method I chose to get my book to Nook and iBooks, and I used Smashwords mainly to get to Sony eReader. They both also provided access to other areas like Scribd, Oyster and Ingram catalogues (plus many others). I found that they took a while to upload to the different sites, but overall my experience was relatively easy. – Jessica Gollub

No I didn’t because I work mainly with Amazon. I believe if I want to distribute my books to other websites like Kobo, Barnes & Noble, I will probably use Smashwords. – Lorraine Koh

I am familiar with Lulu and Smashwords, but I’m not entirely sure how they compare to Amazon and CreatSpace or, indeed, what aggregator services means. Your question flags up that I still have so much to learn and, while I may always buy in a number of services, I want to become familiar with the process so I can make informed choices. – Bridget Whelan

I didn’t use any of these services. Paul Cuddihy

Which format earned you the most book sales?

January, I had 1236 ebook sales and 31 borrows through Amazon/Kindle and a total of 6 sales through Nook and Kobo. – Wayne Stinnett

In the end, I only sold through Amazon Kindle, UK and US sites. – Carol Hedges

Amazon (I’m not calling it “kindle” as the .mobi format is also available through Smashwords).  As far as I can tell, people are reluctant to create yet another user account / login, even though on Smashwords, you pay once and can get every format available, whereas on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, you pay (usually) the same price for only one format. – Aria Glazki

Book sales on Amazon are steady but I think it’s thanks to all the tweeting and marketing we do. –Olga Montes and John Vamvas

My book is fairly new at this point, but so far I’ve sold the most on Kindle. – Jessica Gollub

At the moment, I am working mainly with Amazon, only because of the KDP Program. The KDP Program is where Amazon will provide a 5 days promotional time frame (within every 90 days) where your e-book will be made free or at a discounted price. During these 5 days, your book will be promoted quite extensively on the Amazon website. However in order to be eligible for the KDP Program, your e-book needs to be exclusive to Amazon. I think it’s quite a good program for new writers. – Lorraine Koh

Amazon – the only one I used. – Bridget Whelan

The sales have been slightly better for the Kindle version than the paperback version to date, but it was only at the beginning of February that I published the book, so I’ve got a few months of promotion ahead of me to try and increase sales. – Paul Cuddihy

What would you (or did you) do differently with a subsequent book? Would you use the same services?

Never hesitated with my third book. CreateSpace exclusively and Kindle Select exclusively. – Wayne Stinnett

If I ever uploaded an ebook again, I’d definitely use Smashwords and explore other available formats.I’d also get some advice on ‘tagging’. I have now had a book published by an Independent publisher, and their expertise in dealing with all aspects of e-publishing are waaay ahead of mine. I think that, for the ‘ordinary writer’ e-publishing is not something to be entered into lightly. To do it professionally – and what’s the point of doing it any other way, you need the services of people who know what they are doing! – Carol Hedges

If I self-publish again, I will definitely publish on all three of these sites, as the more the book is out there, the higher the chances of people seeing it. I may add other distributors, like Kobo, directly instead of relying on Smashwords, to see how each one works. I may also publish with Amazon first, to see how the Kindle Select program works. It’s all about a learning curve, and unfortunately even if you do your research, you can’t know quite how it’ll go until you try it.  So I’m interested in testing out the various options to see which will work best. – Aria Glazki

We were part of KDP Select – that’s why we only sold our book on Amazon. Money earned has not been significant enough to stay with the program. Now that we are done with them, we will be uploading our book elsewhere too. – Olga Montes and John Vamvas

I think I would use the same services, I found that I could get my book onto every platform available and broad exposure = more sales.  It would likely be a bit easier the second time around, since I’d be able to plan it out a bit better, but overall I was pleased with how it worked out. – Jessica Gollub

I guess in the end, you need to do a lot of your own marketing (social media, garnering book reviews…etc). That may be more important than what format you choose to use. I will still be housing my future books in Amazon for maybe one more year. Once I manage to build a more stable readership base, I may end up publishing my books on all available platforms. – Lorraine Koh

On the whole it has been a very positive experience. Financially it’s been worthwhile and I think one of the things I did right was to hire a talented ebook designer. The cover looks good and it does what it is supposed to do – attract attention for the right reasons. I haven’t done the sums but I would guest that sales in the first 20 days paid the designer’s fee, not bad when you think that I was launching from a standing start.  – Bridget Whelan

I would definitely use the same Amazon services again, particularly since they make it so easy to publish. However, I might be tempted to look into publishing a future ebook across a wider range of platforms This has been my first foray into self-publishing and I have to admit that I have found the whole experience an exhilarating one.I had previously written a trilogy of historical novels, which had all been released through traditional publishers in Scotland. There was, of course, the thrill of publication, which, as every writer will tell you, can never be under-estimated. However, it was also a frustrating experience at times – the absence (real or perceived) of any promotion, marketing or advertising of the books, the lack of control throughout the process.On one occasion I couldn’t agree with the publisher over the cover of the book, the debate eventually brought to a conclusion when I was told ‘Well, I’m paying for the design, so we’re going with the one I like!’ (I still hate the cover chosen, incidentally). With Read All About It, I have had none of these frustrations. The cover, for example, was designed by a friend and so was done in a spirit of co-operation and partnership. The end result was, in my humble opinion, superb. It’s been an easy and enjoyable process, and a self-confessed lover of the physical book, I have to confess that the finished product from CreateSpace is very impressive, although I know that, ultimately, readers will judge the book by the content. – Paul Cuddihy

 The Authors:

Wayne Stinnett

Author of the Jesse McDermitt series
Website: http://www.waynestinnett.com/
Twitter – @WayneStinnett_

Carol Hedges

Email: martynhedges@compuserve.com
Twitter – @carolJhedges
Website:http://carolhedges.blogspot.co.uk
Jigsaw Pieces (ebook):
Amazon Author page:

Aria Glazki

Email: aria.glazki@gmail.com
Blog: AriaGlazki.blogspot.com
Facebook: Facebook.com/Aria.Glazki
Twitter: @AriaGlazki
Goodreads:
Book: Life Under Examination
—Available on
Amazon:
Smashwords:
Barnes & Noble:

Olga Montes and John Vamvas

Authors of WHEREWOLVES
Link to book trailer, author bios, book excerpt (first two chapters), synopsis, and reviews: www.wherewolvestheblog.com
Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/WHEREWOLVES-ebook/dp/B00BHIPYQY
Twitter: @WHEREWOLVESfilm https://twitter.com/WHEREWOLVESfilm
Facebook:
Goodreads:

Jessica Gollub

The Mark of the Hummingbird
Twitter: @GollubJessica
Facebook:
Amazon:

Lorraine Koh

My latest book Pop Rock Love is out in both Ebook and Print. Here’s the kindle link,
It’s a Young Adult romance novel. Here’s a synopsis:
Before she had a whirlwind affair with a mysterious Japanese breakdancer named Yuki, Mimi was contented with belting out rock tunes at a pub on the island city of Singapore. When Yuki suddenly disappears, Mimi goes to Tokyo in search of him and discovers that he actually belongs to a sugary-pop, manufactured boy band called the Fire Boys. Mimi and Yuki belong to different worlds. Is their love strong enough to triumph over all?

Bridget Whelan

BACK TO CREATIVE WRITING SCHOOL
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Facebook: Back to Creative Writing School
Blog for writers and readers.

Paul Cuddihy

Read All About It: My Year of Falling In Love With Literature Again by Paul Cuddihy
(Available as a paperback and ebook on Amazon)

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Carving Your Path

Today, please welcome guest blogger, Katriena Knights!  Katriena is the author of several paranormal and contemporary romances, including Where There’s a Will, from Samhain Publishing, which reached number 22 on the overall Kindle bestseller list. She is a full-time writer and editor. Visit her website at katrienaknights.com or her blog at katrienaknights.blogspot.com

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If you keep track of the publishing industry via blogs and industry articles, you know that today is a great time to be a writer. There is so much opportunity for writers right now—traditional publishing, self publishing, small publishers, big publishers, short stories, flash fiction—it’s a great big, crazy world out there where we, as authors, can carve out our own careers exactly the way we want to.

You know this until you start reading the industry articles and blogs that say today is a terrible time to be a writer. Writers are abandoning the traditional path, taking sides, belittling others who make different choices. What will happen to “literature” if the traditional publishing paradigm is broken? It’s a literary apocalypse, and we’re all going to be crushed to death under the steel boot of Amazon.

I tend to subscribe to the former mindset. However, in this age of nearly infinite opportunity and options, it’s more important than ever for writers to know as much as possible about all these options, and be prepared to carve a path that doesn’t look like anyone else’s.

 This is the biggest problem I have with a lot of those industry blogs, articles, and “experts.” Each one has its own agenda. Which is fine—we all have agendas. But there seems to me to be far too many people stating that their way is the best way, or even the only way. Such-and-such writer made a million dollars self-publishing, therefore everyone should self-publish and anybody who doesn’t agree is willfully blind at best and stupid at worst. Then so-and-so writer sings the praises of traditional publishing and states that if you haven’t been vetted by the “gatekeepers”—agents and Big Six editors—you’re not a real writer.

And this is why we can’t have nice things. Because as soon as something new enters the picture—self-publishing, or Big Six publishers trying new distribution models, or Amazon throwing out a new sales model that changes the rules—we all take sides. We line up on each side of the line. One group is vehemently in favor of the Big New Thing, while the other group insists the Big New Thing will lead to nothing short of an apocalyptic implosion of the entire publishing industry, if not the world and possibly the solar system.

The writers I truly respect are the ones who are able to look at all the Big New Things and figure out which ones work best for them. The “hybrid author”—someone who takes advantage of several different publishing avenues, including self-pub and traditional publishing—is starting to look like the author who will have the highest levels of success in the future. This is an author who can look at a new opportunity, evaluate it, see how it works in her personal business model and how it can help her reach her personal goals, and then embraces or abandons it as she sees fit. She doesn’t then tell everyone she knows that it’s a horrible idea and no one should ever go that route. She takes the attitude that it works for her, but might not for someone else. It works for Joe and Jane down the road, but isn’t really our hypothetical author’s cup of tea at the moment.

This doesn’t mean I don’t pay attention to new ideas that are not a Big New Thing but more like a Sucking Hole of Suck. Publishers throw out horrible contracts, or come up with new business models that alienate the reader or the author or both. The more balanced view evaluates these dangers in an objective manner and points out the problems. In fact, some authors have been able to influence publishers to change these Sucking Holes of Suck into Slightly Less Sucking Holes of Suck by writing about them and bringing them to the attention of the writing community at large. I think it’s important to know what’s going on in this sense, and to be able to look at well-thought-out evaluations of different new opportunities, rather than relying on the knee-jerk reactions of people who have already made up their minds about one route or the other.

My advice is to make up your own mind. Read what you can about anything new that comes by. Read what you can about the old, established ways, too. Keep in touch with the industry. Decide what opportunities fit your goals or help further your brand, if you like to think that way. Don’t become so entrenched in one viewpoint that you can’t look objectively at the others. In the long run, picking bits and pieces from all the available opportunities will probably give you the best foundation for a long-term, successful career. But you have to find the combination that works for you, which will take some trial and error. Your path through this vast forest won’t look like mine. It won’t look like Joe and Jane’s down the street. It will look like yours. It might cross mine or Joe’s or Jane’s from time to time, but in the end it won’t be identical. And that’s okay. And don’t let anybody ever tell you differently.