By Elisabeth Monaghan
You’ve got a publishing date for your new book. This book, your baby, which has taken so much time, caused you angst and sleepless moments, finally will make its debut. But to give it credibility and to help market your book, you need reviews. There are a number of services you can pay to review your book, and there are the reviews you solicit from friends, relatives, acquaintances, and anyone you can convince to read and review the book. And there are the reviews that come unsolicited. Those are the reviews on which I’m focusing here.
What an exhilarating feeling to see you’ve received a new review from someone you didn’t ask to read the book! Until you read the review and realize it pans your book. Ouch! Rather than search desperately to figure out how to delete a negative review, recognize the validity of the person expressing his or her dislike for your words. If you see a negative review on Amazon, or any site that allows comments, do not panic. Instead, read the review thoroughly. Ask someone close to you to read the review, too. Take a step back from the comments and ask yourself, “What is the best way to address this?” And then, with a cool head, respond to the comment. Rather than saying something like, “Gee, Ms. Doe, you are an incredibly short-sighted jerk. Clearly you didn’t understand the message in my book,” you might instead say something like, “Hi, Ms. Doe, it’s a shame you found my words (recipes, poems, etc.) be cliché . I sincerely appreciate you reading my book and then taking time to review it.” You’re not apologizing. You’re not admonishing. You’re merely acknowledging you heard the negative comment, and you respect the reviewer’s time she took to post it. Keep in mind that no matter how personal the review might seem, you should not take it personally. There are those people, who simply like to shred others. They’re miserable people, and most of us recognize them for that when we come upon their opinions.
You cannot expect every review to be full of praise. Take the extremely negative comments as input from someone who isn’t likely in your target demographic. Consider the more constructive criticism as input for your next book. Do not discount or insult the reviewer. Do not be defensive, or angry, but don’t put yourself down, either. It’s important you stay in touch with the reviews people are writing about your work and that you respond to them. It shows that you’re authentic, and it gives your readers contact with the person behind the book.
When you receive positive or neutral reviews, respond to these as well. It’s much easier to say thank you to great comments than it is to negatives ones, but it’s equally important. It also gives you the opportunity to ask positive those reviewers to kindly spread the word to others about your book.
Elisabeth Monaghan has more than 25 years as a publicist, using both her left and right brain for spiritual, inspirational and self-help authors, along with clients in the homebuilding and real estate industries. You can find her on twitter @HauteFlash.