Most of my books have received excellent reviews. Several have a perfect 5-star review score on Amazon. I know that some or all of my books will also receive less than glowing reviews, and indeed that has happened to some of them.
I’ve learned, however, that the timing of a less-than-stellar review can have a hugely negative impact on a recently launched book if it is the first review for that title or in the absence of other strongly positive reviews.
That happened a while back to a title I released. Someone I considered a friend left a review that I believe in the absence or near-absence of any other positive reviews for the new book at the time pretty much killed any sales momentum for that book. She left a similar review for multiple titles, but because the other titles already had positive reviews her comments didn’t crush sales for the other titles.
I felt I’d been kicked in the gut by a friend. I knew she didn’t kill sales of the book on purpose, and I believed she was even perhaps trying to help me by providing feedback. Her reviews for each of the books included a comment something to the effect that she’d lowered the rating because the books lacked a Table of Contents or Index. I was stunned that the lack of either would cause a reader to lower the rating of the book by two stars out of five. Deep down inside I knew it would have been better for each of those anthologies to have had a Table of Contents, but I felt the punishment was far greater than the crime, and that what was done was done and couldn’t be undone.
I felt hurt, and my pride, ego, and stubborness, fueled my pain, anger, and disappointment. It felt so unfair to me. I let the feelings fester.
This morning the feelings resurfaced for perhaps the hundredth time, but it occurred to me that it actually wouldn’t be all that hard or prohibitively expensive to add a Table of Contents to each of the books, and I committed to myself to do so. All of a sudden, my negative feelings changed to gratitude for her feedback and her intent. I know it may be too late to save the one title, but at least future readers of all the titles will have a Table of Contents to find favorite stories, poems, writers, and poets.
This morning I was once again reminded as to the corrosive power of ego, pride, and stubbornness, on relationships and results.
I apologize to the person who mentioned the lack of a Table of Contents or Index in her reviews. I believe you were well-intentioned. I’m sorry for not being wise enough at the time to appreciate and be grateful for your gift. Thank you.
I plan to reach out to her today and attempt to apologize privately.
Oh it is hard isn’t it – exactly the same happened to me too – similar thing – lack of index on an e-book and a misplaced apostrophe – It took the shine right off my ego! I’m over it now, but I feel your pain!! Keep going – onward and upward!! 🙂
Thank you for your comment and encouragement. It is somehow comforting to know I’m not the only one. I wish you much continued success in your creative endeavors (which very much includes very aspect of your life!)
I believe your insight now has given you a peace about the situation and so that is good. I also believe however that we are human and sometimes the actions of another do bring about hurt and anger, and while we know that it’s not good for us to harbor those negative feelings; none the less they are in that sense justified… I believe your friend could have told you ‘privately’ about what they thought were missing in the book… i.e. an index. I don’t believe that it should have been a public review done as most know that reviews do impact the sale of a book. It’s good that you can now look beyond your hurt, but I believe also the other person needs to examine their action as well…. Just my thoughts Russ… Diane
Thank you for your insights, Diane. I greatly appreciate them, and you. One of the things that has haunted me is I seem to recall someone suggesting to me privately that it would be good to include an index. If that is an accurate recollection, I don’t recall who made the suggestion. There is a possibility that the reviewer was the one who did so and was disappointed that I hadn’t complied with their request.
The only thing I would say on that… is that normally you reply to everything and everyone who contacts you either by email or your blog, and so you must have said something to that individual whoever they were regarding their suggestion.. if there was one made… Diane
I agree; if someone made the suggestion, I replied to it, probably even indicating that the idea was a good one. In my rush to release the books, I neglected to add an index, partly due to time constraints, cost consideration, self-imposed deadlines, and laziness.
I have to have the last word…. NEVER LAZINESS!!!! Diane
You’re welcome to the last word Diane, but can I have the last winky-face? ;-D!
I agree that the missing index should have been brought up in private, especially since it sounds you know each other. On the other hand, maybe it just didn’t jive with you at the time if she was the same person who suggested this earlier. Either way, I find your review harsh.
I appreciate your feedback and believe there are plenty of lessons to be learned by writers and reviewers from this incident.
I DO believe we, as individuals, are always learning. 🙂
Your response and feelings are all as most anyone would respond to the public criticism of something you created and produced. While her suggestions may have been helpful, a private suggestion would have been more appropriate. I think that you are a kind and forgiving man, who has reflected on a situation most would have continued to carry with them in anger. I applaud you.
I’m humbled and deeply touched by your generous comments, Beth. Thank you.
Thank you for sharing your heart’s vulnerability Russ.
Thank you, Val. It can be both a blessing and a curse to have such a vulnerable heart, but on balance I much prefer it this way.
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, I hope I can be like you when I grow up 😉
In that case we’re in real danger of creating a mutual admiration society! Your kind comment inspired a chuckle and lasting smile. Thank you!
That is very harsh to rate down because of the missing content table. It does not change the contents of the book and that is what is the most important. It could have been mentioned to you but not added in a review which is a bit damaging. I do admire your attitude towards this and well you have learnt from it. I hardly ever look at the content in the front, I just enjoy the book! And your books are just perfect!
Thank you for your kind message and long support, Ute. Your last sentence brightened my day in a big way!
I am glad you were able to turn it, Russ. Sometimes mistakes and the like that hit home are the hardest but only the biggest can turn them into value 🙂
I appreciate your insight and kind comment, Heather. Thank you!
If the person was suppose to be a friend couldn’t they have said something to you without leaving a negative review
She responded to my email apologizing to her, and kindly and graciously accepted my apology. She too apologized and explained she was trying to be helpful rather than hurtful. I believe her intent was to be helpful and I accepted her apology.
What…you’re human? Ooh, I hate it when my imperfections get the better of me. Sometimes giving reviews of someone you care for can be challenging because you don’t want to hurt their feelings, yet you want to speak your opinion. Well, I am glad you sorted it out with yourself and are able to see the constructive aspect of the review…even if it stung for a little while.
Your comments made me chuckle as they were right on target. Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback!
It must be true, then, that every cloud has a silver lining… 🙂
Certainly the clouds that have hung over me have all eventually proven to have silver linings, though it has sometimes taken a while for me to see some of them.