Having a few negative reviews is the best way to avoid more negative reviews, and here’s why.
I often make the decision of whether or not I will buy a book based on, not a good review, but a bad one. Often times a five star review tends to gush about how wonderful a book is and fails to tell you much information. On the flip side a one star review tends to complain about the book, but doesn’t offer much information either. Obviously a good reviewer can provide a well-rounded review for any star level, but for the majority of reviews I find the best ones to read are those that are 2, 3, and 4 stars. Those are the reviews where people actually tell you what they liked and what they didn’t. Now a four star review is still good, and even a three star review isn’t bad. It’s the two star reviews that I think can really hurt, but these are the ones that are going to help you find your target audience.
When you read a review, good or bad, you get a better sense of what the book is about. When it comes to reading a negative review you can gain insight into what may be a book’s flaws or annoyances. But, you’re not going to always agree with the person that wrote that review. Say someone gave a book a bad review because the book contained a love triangle and that reviewer is just sick of love triangles, but maybe you are crazy about them and are looking for a love triangle for your next read. Suddenly that bad review helped you purchase a book. Now, this is a really simple example, but the point is that what makes a book good or bad varies – at least to some degree- from person to person. What a bad review is going to do for you is, one give more insight into what your book is about, and two keep other people from reading it who agree with the bad review and would then in turn write you a bad review.
The goal isn’t to write a book that everyone is going to like, the goal is to write a book that you like and then to find the right audience for it. Authors need to keep in mind that everyone gets bad reviews, even bestselling authors. There’s no such thing as a perfect book, and everyone has a different opinion on what they like.
Authors should also remember that the ratings themselves are subjective as well. Even with Amazon and Goodreads giving a basis like “3 Stars = I liked it”, for us to make judgments from, we need to remember that “I liked it” still means something different from one person to the next. Two people may feel the exact same about the same book but have different concepts of their rating systems. To some 3 Stars or “I liked it” is a good rating, a book they “liked” is one they recommend. For others, like myself, 3 Stars isn’t that great of a rating. To me 3 Stars means that it may be well written, but is lacking something, or that maybe I can see why other people liked it, but it just wasn’t for me. If I liked a book I will typically give it 4 stars. I reserve 5 stars for books that completely blew me away, and 3 stars go to those books that were just alright. I rarely give a book 2 stars, and I don’t think I’ve ever given a book 1 star. Because of how I consider my ratings for me to get a 2 or 3 star review hits harder than it might for others.
Now, that doesn’t mean that authors should disregard all negative reviews. People will have different opinions on what they like in regard to content, but when it comes to quality almost everyone can agree that a well written and grammatically correct book is necessary for a good review. Authors should listen to the criticisms of their book and weigh them objectively to help improve their writing; they just shouldn’t let bad reviews get them down.