Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What NOT to do when you get a bad review! AKA THE GREEK SEAMAN

You knew this was coming.

First off, I am the king of bad reviews so I feel like I should say something on this huge train-wreck. With what Vincent Zandri is doing with his book The Innocent and how it has went beyond the tipping point, well this same thing works in the other direction. Here is the link to the Review so you can get some background: BigAl's Books and Pals:

And the you-tube: Video

After this show she is racking up bad reviews on Amazon and her Facebook page is being blasted. It looks like she has not been on her page yet and this storm is just getting going. I bring this up as a example of what not to do when you get a bad review.

Face it, not one of us want a bad review. It hurts and it is hard not to take personal. On the other hand, if you ask for one don't get mad when you get one. Just by writing a book and putting it on the market you are open to the good and the bad.

My first book had a ton of problems and is in editing yet again. But I understand what I lack and I am doing everything I can to fix the problems. I get some good reviews and some bad reviews but as long as the person is good about it I figure it is their right.

In this case Al did a great job in handling it and was very nice. He did not provoke her and we could go on and on about it. But let us learn... when we get bad reviews take them to heart. See if they are right and if you need to correct something do it if you can. But the truth of the matter is this: Your biggest fan is wrong and your worst enemy is wrong, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

The next thing is understand a bad review may at times be just as good as a good one. A lot of people are scared to trust a book that has all 5 star reviews, they think most of them are friends or family and want to know the good and the bad. There was no comments on this review for a few days and it might have not done anything to hurt her but she kept pushing and once the people took up the fight it was on!

Lesson #3 is never be a jerk. No matter what try to be nice. If someone is going to blast you in a review don't lower yourself and blast back. Take it and use it. I have this blog and a following because of a bad review. My book was called the worst book ever and I was told in a review to never write again. Now I didn't listen, in fact I use it to reach out to others and if you know about what we do here you would agree that in a way she put a fire under me. It is all in how you use it.

The last thing is how things go beyond the tipping point. We have a few authors that have reached this point and once the snowball starts down the hill it will take on a life of its own. This is also going on here, but in a bad way. People are talking, it is being pushed across the internet and there is nothing she can do to stop it. Remember before you feel sorry for her, she did this, she opened her mouth and pushed... It is sad how bad it is getting for her but it is also sad that she did not have enough in herself to take the review and move on like an adult.

Here is the correct response:
Thank you for the review, I will look into the formatting errors and have it re-edited. I am so glad you liked the main story and I hope once it has been worked through you can review it again and maybe we can move the 2 stars up to 5.

Problem averted.


  1. I started reading that link.... whoa Nellie!

    Your response is definitely the more professional, responsible, and mature one.

  2. As far as "bad reviews" go, the one she got wasn't really that bad at all. It said she wrote a nice story which is the most important thing anyways. All the errors can be fixed.

    If she had responded graciously she might have been able to get the book fixed and have Al take a second look at it again.

  3. I agree with Rick in his comment that the review of her book was not that bad. However, the author chose not to recognize the review, blamed the reviewer for not getting the right copy of the book, (was there a good and a bad copy of the book?) and when all was said and done she defended her ungrammatical sentence structure as "there was nothing wrong with it." Well, it sure seems that a lot of other people could pick out what was wrong with it. It is unfortunate that this author lacks professionalism.

  4. Well said. As a sensitive author myself, I felt sick reading her comments. She was way out of line. But she is also a good lesson to other writers. How NOT to act.

  5. This is a thicker than thick skin business...I remember once coming close to losing my temper over a bad review in a workshop I had to attend for my MFA in Writing degree...I forget the circumstances but I raised my voice at a particular writer who said my work was "tired." I think I shot back, "Sorry I'm keeping you up!" It was an entirely unprofessional response regardless her ambiguous response to my work, and I was considered unprofessional for responding to her at all...I learned my lesson then. Take it all with a grain of salt. For a coda, I remember being up in the editorial offices of Bantam/Dell with my then editor, and who's manuscript do I see on the editor's desk for review? Ummm, this same woman whom I went to MFA school with. Says I to the editor? "Oh my God I know her, are you going to take her on?" The editor looked at me and said, "I hated it,....No." Goes around comes around!!!!

  6. I wonder if after this firestorm she'll start writing under a pen name.

  7. I'm so glad you repsonded to this. I wanted to hear your thoughts.

    V always a please.

    Rick Pen Name is her only Salvation I think

    Becca, Rick Dale I think you all are spot on

  8. I can't help but feel a tiny bit bad for the author, mostly because the point-and-stare reaction from so many people on the web just makes me feel icky. But maybe she's saved some others from making the same mistakes.

  9. I felt sorry for her until she dropped the F-Bomb at everyone. Then I *thought* about feeling sorry for her again until she reloaded and dropped a second F-Bomb.

    At this point she just needs to come and apologize and hire an editor. Maybe she can salvage this, people are very forgiving. I honestly think that not saying anything right now isn't good enough, because everyone is operating off of what she said last which was.......

  10. Oh wow, agreed. The F-bomb is what killed it for me too. Hope she has better luck with a pen name.

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  12. That's prime example of a self-published nutter. They mean well, but they can't take adversity. She would have benefited of a paid editor.

  13. "With what Vincent Zandri is doing with his book The Innocent and how it "HAS WENT" beyond the tipping point"

    HAS WENT??? Seriously? Never mind the article...

  14. I just read some of Jaquelines responses...I too, am from the UK... and I too, am confused... who was her editor? Proof reader?? Ummm,( in far less confusing venacular) Someone need to fire they ass!

  15. Lol... Everyone knows I can't spell and make editors quiver in fear. But I am good at story so I focus on that... I guess no one is perfect... HAS WENT... that is dang funny, just goes to show you, anyone can make it in this business. =)

  16. Excellent post, Aaron! I also love your response and think that it is the perfect way to go about responding to a no-so-shining review. I haven't been over to check out the review yet, but have it up in another tab, so on my way that way. It seems as though there are more and more authors that are getting truly upset with reviewers for their honesty. I can understand how important an authors book is to them, however, not everyone is going to love it. As long as there are positives to balance out the negatives in a review, I see no reason for authors to get in such an uproar. Positive criticism is vital to improvement and honesty is the foundation to success.

  17. Okay, just read the review and comments. All I can say is "WOW!"

  18. What a fantastic post and I loved the video. I heard about the broohaha and where I've been down with bronchitis I haven't made any proper public post about the matter but here's what I feel about it. Number One the author was in the wrong to backlash at the reviewer. Number Two - I have a story for number two. A few years ago, I co-wrote a book with 2 other authors. I knew the book wasn't ready to go out into the world but they insisted and well to make a long story short, it's terrible editing shortcomings was announced in an Amazon review by a FRIEND. Now. It doesn't matter if it's a friend or someone who is giving you an honest opinion of your book but when a review goes live on the net, it's out there. And it does influence others no matter what anyone says. In my case, the friend was right. It did need a bad case of editing but to this day I have not talked to her. But did I go off on her? No. Did I want to? yes. Like Vincent said, you have to develop a back bone because baby in this business where everything is so out there, you better grow two sets of balls.

  19. I am a Brit too, and am truly appalled at this writer's unprofessional attitude. We all hate having bad reviews. In this case, it may have been only two stars, but it was actually quite a positive review and Al balanced the points about poor grammar with the fact he thought it was a good story.

    I once received a really terrible 'one star' review from a professional reviewer who obviously hated my story. It was obviously not a genre this reviewer enjoyed and although I was hurt and shocked, I just posted a brief 'thanks for taking the time to review my story' and left it at that. In this case, the reviewer had not said one single good thing about my book, and gave away most of the story, including the ending, and gave no examples of why they hated the book so much, that would have allowed me to take stock and work on the problems to avoid them in the future. It seems it was the story they didn't like, not the writing. I had several comments on the post afterwards, supporting me and saying they really liked my story, which hopefuly minimised the 'damage' and I was very grateful to them. Thankfully all my other reviews were four to five stars, so this one was the exception.

    The point I'm making is that sometimes, if a review really is completely negative, one just has to swallow ones pride and move on. If it's a constructive review (like Al's was) after the hurt feelings subside, learn from it, and avoid making the same mistakes again. It also shows how important it is, if you're self-published, to hire a decent editor before putting your book out there! No writer is perfect when it comes to self editing!

    (And Aaeron, I think your response is perfect - just perfect!)