What didn’t make me smile throughout my recent and ultimately successful free book campaign on Amazon KDP (and I’ll tell you this, seeing as we’re being honest here) was that with all the extra interest in the book, (over 24,000 downloads in 4 days) the one, 1-star review I had lurking somewhere on my book’s page rose to the top of the 80-odd good ones overnight, with 27 people finding it helpful.
No one’s ever sure why people choose to like and thumbs-up bad reviews over good ones, especially when they haven’t even read our work. Do people scroll through good reviews until they find a bad one, and then big-it-up just as something to do? Well… er. Yes. Yes they do.
With 27 people finding that review helpful, and 5 or so finding a nearby 5-star GOOD review helpful, evidence would suggest that as a people, at least on Amazon, we are looking for BAD books, and not good ones. We actually go in search of finding things to dislike.
As a species on the whole, are we just bored now? Are we just unkind? Are we that miserable, so unfulfilled that we must make others feel bad, too?
I know all authors go through this, and we have to learn to toughen the hell up. Trolls will be trolls. People can sit there and say ‘don’t worry’, or ‘you have loads of great reviews, why are you only focussing on the bad one?’ which is quite fair and right, yet it always annoys us because as writers we are SENSITIVE, goddammit. We are the ones who cry over spilled milk AND the fact that you’re squashing the carton when it did nothing wrong.
Also, it takes a lot of work to write a book. *stomps foot
OK, so we’re not saving the world, we’re not devoting our lives to the front line or performing surgery, or splitting atoms, (why would you want to split an atom, actually, I never did get that?) but we write in the hope that we might change it, for some people at least. We write because most of the time we want to make people feel what we feel through our words – and ultimately that is joy. In fiction at least that is usually a happy ending.
The lady who wrote said review back in May clearly disliked my book (or me?!) and proceeded to bash pretty much everything about my story. Fair enough, I thought, that’s her opinion. But wait. She writes:
“We are given a 1960s version of Noah’s manager Peter (who they call “Denzel” because, ya know , all black people look alike)”
I was baffled when I read this. In my book the character Denzel is not black. He’s white. They call him Denzel because his last name is Washington. It’s a name that stuck. And there’s nothing 1960’s about it. It’s about modern pop music, set… well, NOW. Um…
“Let her use you to get a job with Tiger Beat in a veiled attempt to rehabilitate his image in the dying industry of teen magazines! Let Chloe exploit the homeless to make Noah look human after he assaulted someone! <headdesk>” she writes.
I’m not even sure what to make of this, or even what she means quite frankly. There are no homeless people in my story. And Chloe works for a magazine called Shimmer. And no one assaulted anyone. And she doesn’t try to make anyone look human – my books are full of humans – they’re romance, not Sci-fi. Am I missing something?
Anyway, whatever… I’m ranting now. But my point is, for a while that review sat there at the top like a turd that wouldn’t flush. I knew I could cry and scream all I wanted. I could even explain myself (not that anyone cared) but it wouldn’t make it go away. I knew I should toughen up, but… well… I found it very sad, really, that someone out there, for absolutely no reason at all, had influenced others into not liking my work; or even giving it a chance. The reviewer didn’t even get all her facts straight in her review. She mentioned the wrong names, misunderstood my characters. But what can you do? What can you say?
You have to just say nothing. You have to make like Elsa and…
There are bigger problems in the world. You have to focus on letting the light in, only letting the love in, and out. You have to keep doing what you do. You have to keep writing!
If I can do it, so can you. We’re all dealing with the same thing.
Scribble on scribblers. And never feed the trolls.