Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Very good advice from Goodreads

I tend not read reviews of my books on Goodreads or Amazon. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't appreciate people writing them - I do. But while I tend to make use of good reviews in the press, for instance quoting them on my website, all reading a Goodreads or Amazon review can do is slightly inflate my ego (if it's good) or make me feel really grumpy (if it's bad).

I was looking at the Goodreads widget, something you can put on your website to point people to Goodreads reviews of your books (which, as I said, I don't want to do, but hey I was curious) and I noticed the top review shown for my book A Brief History of Infinity was a 2 star one that started off pretty damned miserably.

I couldn't help but be sucked in and looked at the rest (which, true to form, made me feel grumpy). But I was then cheered up by some superb advice from Goodreads at the bottom, discouraging authors from responding to a bad review. They are so right. It is tempting, and I know some people who have succumbed and done it - and they all regretted it. I would certainly never do it. I once had a review removed from Amazon because it was a downright lie and irrelevant to the book it was supposedly reviewing - and Amazon took it down straight away. But even that probably wasn't worthwhile, as the same person then put up another negative review, this time also crying foul because his last one had been taken down.

It's fascinating because this is totally different to the advice of what to do if a customer complains about your service as a business. In that case it is best to respond (and generously at that), because if you recover the situation you win a strong supporter. But bear in mind the crucial difference. When customer service goes wrong we are talking about something that can be fixed. But when someone gives you a bad review we are simply dealing with someone whose doesn't like what you've written. You won't win them over by arguing - or by sending them a present. They still won't like your book. So grin and bear it. If you find that impossible to do, don't look at these reviews. Your blood pressure will thank you.

It is worth repeating Goodreads' wise words below:
Ok, you got a bad review. Deep breath. It happens to every author eventually. Keep in mind that one negative review will not impact your book’s sales. In fact, studies have shown that negative reviews can actually help book sales, as they legitimize the positive reviews on your book’s page. 
We really, really (really!) don’t think you should comment on this review, even to thank the reviewer. If you think this review is against our Review Guidelines, please flag it to bring it to our attention. Keep in mind that if this is a review of the book, even one including factual errors, we generally will not remove it 
For more on how to interact with readers, please see our Author Guidelines.
If you still feel you must leave a comment, click “Accept and Continue” below to proceed (but again, we don’t recommend it).

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