Reviews are very important to indie authors. In many ways, they’re more important than sales. While I’m hardly getting rich off of my novels, the reviews I’ve received on Amazon and Goodreads represent a small fraction of my sales. As of this blog post, my first novel, Not Famous, has only 119 ratings on Goodreads, and 56 ratings on Amazon. Of those ratings, only a fraction have reviews along with them.
One of the toughest things about putting your work out there is that it will endure criticism. Some will be good and some will be bad. I myself have had some bad reviews, but the overwhelming majority of reviews my novels have received have been good. Still, when you’re dealing with dozens of reviews as opposed to hundreds or thousands, the bad reviews tend to stick out, and it’s easy to get distressed over them.
I’ve often told other indie authors just starting out not to worry about reviews, but even when I say it, I know it’s not easy. Bad reviews, when they happen, sting. But it’s true that your novel will not be universally celebrated. In fact, every novel gets them. Even your favorite novels from your favorite authors.
To prove this point, I’m gonna post a few select 1-star reviews (via Amazon) of two of my favorite novels.
High Fidelity, by Nick Hornby — Without a doubt, the novel that inspired me to write fiction, and yet it gets trashed plenty.
- “None of the characters in this book are likable.[…] Though the rhetoric is clearly meant to be humorous, it falls flat with sorry attempts at irony. I do not recommend this book to thinking people.”
- “This book has no plot or message in it. Just a bunch of jabbering by the main character with an inferiority complex. Not funny, just boring.”
- “Read the book and saw the movie; stupid book about a man that refuses to grow up; complete waste of my time”
- “Too drawn out. Boring. This book just rambles.”
- “I don’t like the book because it’s too introspective.”
This is Where I Leave You, by Jonathan Tropper — My first introduction to Jonathan Tropper. I loved this book so much I read everything else he published soon after.
- “This book was full of cliches. Just when you thought you’d heard them all, why here comes another, more sensational than the one before. I will not read another of Tropper’s books. What was intended to be funny just seemed sad to me.”
- “This book was very graphic. I felt like it was written by a horny teenage boy. I read the first few pages and couldn’t no longer.”
- “There is not one member of the family, which this book is about, whom I liked or respected. Adults acting like children. Predictable story.”
- “This novel was so bad that I can’t spend the time itemizing any details.”
- “I did not finish this book. I have heard so many great reviews about this book and how it is funny and all that but I couldn’t make it past the 4th chapter.”
- “I really enjoyed previous books by Tropper, but I found this book to be nothing more than depressing.”
The moral of the story is: don’t fret bad reviews. Everyone gets them.