Wednesday, July 24, 2013

When Indies Get Bad Reviews for Being Indies

Even though e-books now consist of 20-30% of the market, depending on the source of the statistic, even though indie writers are regularly hitting the top ten of the New York Times bestseller list, even though you can have a hard time telling the difference between trad-pubbed and indie-pubbed books unless you check who the publisher is, there are reviewers who have made it their life mission to mark as many indie book as they can with one-star reviews.

Many indie writers get absolutely livid over this. I totally understand their feelings. It isn't fair. Especially when they've shelled out the money for a top-notch editor and cover artist. In fact, those writers have done everything a publishing house has done, in some cases even better, but still they get shit on for daring to break the chains the big publishing houses tried to bind them with, therefore they must be punished.

And honestly, some of the reasons of these reviewers are kind of silly. An Oxford comma enthusiast counts down an indie author for failing to use it. Others become enraged if an author uses the British spelling for words.

But those are mild compared to a friend or family member jealous of what they perceive of the indie writer's undeserved success. It doesn't matter if the writer is like me--making just enough to pay the law school loan and buy two pizzas IF Papa John's is running a special.

So what's an indie author to do?

First of all, if there's a definite pattern of harassment from the same person, there may be a law against it where you live. Many states and countries are cracking down on cyber-bullying. Check with your local law enforcement or an attorney about the steps you need to take to document the culprit's actions and protect yourself if necessary.

Otherwise, you may need to ignore it. I understand; I'm not one to back away from a fight either.

Unfortunately, there are some so-called reviewers who are nothing more than drama queens. They stir the pot just to see what kind of trouble they can cause. They thrive on the attention, and frankly, I pity their real-life family and friends.

Others are trolls. They hope to poke at you enough to prompt an emotional outburst, so they can sit back and laugh at you.

The third type just really didn't like your book. Guess what? You can't make everyone like you or like your book.

The last type think they are really doing you a favor. It's no more or no less than what can happen in a critique group. Try to pull the constructive criticisms out (if you can) and let the rest go.

If you're getting a tremendous amount of one-star or two-star reviews, take a step back and try to analyze the comments dispassionately. (It's hard, I know. Those stories are your babies!)

If you've truly become the target of a vendetta, your best bet may be to unpublish the book, and re-publish it as a new book to purge the harassing reviews.

If you're getting a lot of the fourth type of review, seriously look at your work. Could the cover or blurb be better? Have you put your book under the wrong category? DO you have too many typos? These are all things that can be fixed! That's one of the joys of indie publishing!

When it comes down to a few people hating the story but lots of four- and five-star reviews, ignore the naysayers. You're on the right track!

[Note: Can you tell which of the books above was produced by a traditional publisher?]

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