Four Ways Negative Book Reviews Actually Help You.
So you got a bad review. Take a deep breath. Hold it. Okay, you can release it now. Congratulations, you are now among most authors (big or small) whose work is out for public consumption. Bad reviews happen and they never feel good (many authors actually suggest you just don’t read your own reviews). A bad rating will not do any possible good for your book, however, a bad review may punch you in the gut, but it can also benefit your book.
1) Long term, bad reviews help your overall rating
If you have more than a forty ratings and reviews on your book’s page, a couple bad reviews are not going to completely flat-line your sales, but a low average rating might. A bad review will (often) point out what the reviewer didn’t like about the book, example (in romance): a love triangle, a “Mary-sue” main character, an “alpha” male character or a wishy-washy one, or even “too little romance”. A potential buyer reading the review will either think “I hate that in books” or “I don’t mind that in books.” If the potential reader who would have “hated that” bought your book, read it, hated it, then reviewed it (or worse, rated it without reviewing it), you would have ended up with an even lower average rating. Basically, bad reviews will warn away the wrong readers, keeping you from more negative feedback. True, a bad review may also warn away some people who will like your book, but remember, it takes over fifty “five star” ratings to negate one “one star” rating.
2) All reviews get your cover (and blurb) seen
When someone writes a review on Goodreads, their blog, Facebook, Twitter etc. your cover and blurb almost always will be posted with it. It is a widely known fact that covers sell books, and whether or not it is a positive review your cover will have another opportunity to sell your book.
3) Negative reviews draw attention
This really only goes for blogging sites and Goodreads (not seller sites), but: Your book is getting attention, attention is good! Unfortunately, it is often the negative reviews that draw a lot of interest and participation through comments and likes from others in the book world. This spreads that negative review all over the internet. If your negative review is drawing interest, don’t overreact. People who may not have even heard of your book before are checking out your book and considering reading it, even through a negative lens, but they may not think the reviewer made a good point, or they may like the books the reviewer hates.
4) Bad reviews can give you insight into what readers want
This is a complicated one because often “that bad review” will come from someone not in your “target audience”, but if there is a consistent aspect of your book that is turning off readers, then isn’t it better to know? I am not saying that people should change their writing based on other’s opinions, that’s up to the writer, but I am saying that knowing what the people who you are selling to want is good information to have.
Everything I write is just my opinion as a reader, author, and book blog reading addict.