Hi everyone, and thank you for tuning in to another episode of the We Make Books Podcast - A podcast about writing, publishing, and everything in between!
This week, we’re talking about those wonderful, terrible things called reviews! Our last episode was pretty facts and numbers driven so this week, we wanted to talk about something a little more personal: Reading what people think of your book. Reviews are so much harder to deal with than we think they will be and in this episode we talk about everything from who will be reviewing your book to coping with a less than favorable review.
We Make Books is hosted by Rekka Jay and Kaelyn Considine; Rekka is a published author and Kaelyn is an editor and together they are going to take you through what goes into getting a book out of your head, on to paper, in to the hands of a publisher, and finally on to book store shelves.
We Make Books is a podcast for writer and publishers, by writers and publishers and we want to hear from our listeners! Hit us up on our social media, linked below, and send us your questions, comments, concerns, and your predictions for how long the Mets will manage to stay above .500 (Kaelyn’s got her money on less than 24 hours).
We hope you enjoy We Make Books!
Rekka:00:00 Welcome back to another episode of the We Make Books Podcast. This is all about writing, all about publishing all your questions, all your wonderments, all the just the good fields and also some bad ones, unfortunately today.
Kaelyn:00:14 That's true. We're talking about feelings a lot today.
Rekka:00:16 We talk a lot about feelings.
Kaelyn:00:18 Yeah so, uh, today we didn't introduce ourselves.
Rekka:00:22 Who are we anyway?
Rekka:00:23 After the, after recording that episode, I don't even know anymore. I'm Rekka. I write science fiction and fantasy as R.J. Theodore.
Kaelyn:00:30 And I'm Kaelyn and I am the acquisitions editor for Parvus Press.
Rekka:00:34 And we talk about books -
Kaelyn:00:35 A lot.
Rekka:00:36 And sometimes we talk about other aspects of books, like the things that other people say about books.
Kaelyn:00:42 So today we're talking about reviews and um,
Rekka:00:43 Mmm, I don't want to talk about reviews anymore.
Kaelyn:00:47 Well, it's a little bit of an emotional roller coaster.
Kaelyn:00:50 Reviews in general are because um good reviews -
Rekka:00:54 Are amazing.
Rekka:00:55 And they lift you up.
Kaelyn:00:56 Bad reviews, not so much.
Rekka:00:58 Yes. They smash your head against the concrete repeatedly.
Kaelyn:01:01 Yeah. So, um, today, you know, we were talking about things we were going to discuss and um, this was something that, it was funny because it started out a little nebulous and then we realized we actually had a lot of structured information to talk
Rekka:01:14 Yeah, we really did.
Kaelyn:01:14 Um, so we kind of go, we take you through, uh, the process of how books get reviews, um, different kinds of reviews, what they mean, how they can influence you and finally move into the how to deal with reviews, which is, um, you know, a little bit more of a personal side to it.
Rekka:01:31 Yeah. Yeah. I got a little personal yeah.
Kaelyn:01:33 Which, um, you know, but I think that's great.
Kaelyn:01:35 It's, um, it's, it's an overlooked aspect of this that is very important to authors both in terms of selling their book but also emotionally and, um, kind of goes into that taking care of yourself through this process because it's stressful and it's horrible.
Rekka:01:53 It is stressful, and this episode assumes that you are like me incapable of just not looking at the reviews at all. Yeah. That advice, I don't know who it's meant for. It is not meant for me cause I can't, I can't abide that advice no matter what I tried.
Kaelyn:02:08 I have not met a single author that doesn't read their own reviews.
Rekka:02:11 Tell you what, sometimes if I'm in a bad mood, I go and read my reviews. So what does that tell you about me?
Kaelyn:02:17 Ummm ...
Rekka:02:17 It's not a good thing?
Rekka:02:19 I mean my reviews are all right, but I always zero right in on the ones that like where the frustrating, like where did, what book were they reading?
Kaelyn:02:27 I have a feeling a therapist could have a field day with that. So we're going to, we're going to go find one while you guys listen to this episode and figure out what is going on with Rekka.
Rekka:02:38 Okay, first of all, how dare you.
Kaelyn:02:38 So everyone, uh, enjoy the episode please and um.
Rekka:02:41 Listen through to the end cause we tease a, a series of episodes that's coming up in September and we want your input on those and we're going to need it soon because we record ahead of time. So please listen all the way through the end. Even if listening to conversation about book reviews is as painful for you as it was for me endure.
Kaelyn:02:59 Enjoy the episode everybody.
Rekka:03:02 No. [inaudible]
Kaelyn:03:15 The soundtrack is amazing.
Rekka:03:17 And this isn't the one that's, you said, it's a record store. So it's what, it's the one with the radio station UHF or something like that?
Kaelyn:03:26 That might be right. No, this is-
Rekka:03:29 This is different.
Kaelyn:03:29 The name of the record store is Empire Records.
Rekka:03:31 Okay. Gotcha.
Kaelyn:03:34 Yeah. Um, there the birds outside or did, do these ever pick up the birds outside?
Rekka:03:41 I haven't heard the birds in the,
Kaelyn:03:42 I haven't either, which is amazing because when I woke up this morning I was just like, oh right there birds outside and oh, do they have a lot to say.
Rekka:03:50 Yeah. Um, if we have picked up dogs.
Kaelyn:03:55 Oh yeah.
Rekka:03:56 Yeah. But I've never, I've never heard anything other than dogs and the lawnmower.
Kaelyn:04:00 Well maybe soon we'll get some frog friends. All the face hungers. We'll do an episode at about like just standing out by the pond there.
Rekka:04:09 No, we won't even have to. We can just open the windows. And if we record a dusk, it will be just a cacophony.
Kaelyn:04:15 Well, we can do an episode that we record down by there where I'm just observing and remarking on all of the wildlife I see. Because every, it's -
Rekka:04:22 Telling the dragon flies to share their rocks.
Kaelyn:04:24 I'm a, I'm like a child. I'm like, I could, Rekka, there's like, there's like a fish. Yeah, Kaelyn. I know. But like, do you see it? It's a fish. Like, yes, there's, there's a few of them. Watch out for the snakes and just -
Rekka:04:35 Have some, mint.
Kaelyn:04:36 Have some mint. So anyway, hey, everyone.
Rekka:04:40 Hey everyone, there's our Patreon content.
Kaelyn:04:41 Yeah. Welcome to another episode. We are, um, well last week we did, we did a very factual episode two weeks ago. Excuse me.
Rekka:04:50 I was going to say, are we doing a weekly podcast now? I'd love to have you visit more often.
Kaelyn:04:53 Yeah. No. So we did, we did a very factual episode two weeks ago, so we decided to do something a little more, um -
Rekka:04:59 Instead of telling you to put on your hat and mustache, we're going to give you some tissues.
Kaelyn:05:05 Look the, the negotiating hat and mustache is a thing, okay? It's,
Rekka:05:10 You could say -
Kaelyn:05:11 Heals, skirt, jacket, full face of makeup, hat, and mustache.
Rekka:05:15 I really want to see you with the mustache now.
Kaelyn:05:17 It's weird.
Rekka:05:18 I think you could pull it off.
Kaelyn:05:20 Um, so yeah, we decided this week we're gonna kind of talk about something that's a little bit more on the emotional side of things.
Rekka:05:26 Right. So we've got the publisher here who wants to, you know, talk about all this hidden knowledge and stuff. And then you've got the writer here who is like just concerned with other people like her and her books.
Kaelyn:05:38 I have feelings.
Rekka:05:41 I have needs and my needs are to be loved.
Kaelyn:05:45 I don't have feelings anymore.
Rekka:05:48 Um, but that's Wall street's fault.
Kaelyn:05:49 Well, no, no. Well debatable, was one the causality of the other? Did I get into publishing and finance because I don't have feelings or do I not have feelings anymore because of that? Um, yeah, so we're talking about reviews and what people think of your book.
Rekka:06:08 So if you don't have a book out in the world, you might be excited for the day that you get your first review. But the very minute that you have a book that's out there that someone could read, all of a sudden the other possibility occurs to you that what if they don't like it?
Kaelyn:06:27 What if they don't like my baby?
Rekka:06:30 And then they tell everyone that it was terrible and nobody reads it because one person didn't like it.
Kaelyn:06:37 That's, that's the other side.
Rekka:06:41 That's the nightmare,
Kaelyn:06:41 That will keep you up at night.
Rekka:06:43 So I'm sorry about that. Uh, no. We want to talk about reviews from a, like all holistic standpoint. We want to talk about reviews from a holistic standpoint of, you know,
Kaelyn:06:57 So what are reviews? What do they tell us?
Rekka:07:01 Views are opinions. They are. Let's just be clear.
Kaelyn:07:04 That is, that is actually, that is a very, very good point to establish right off the bat here.
Rekka:07:09 Reviews are opinions that for some reason have big britches and think they're pretty great.
Kaelyn:07:17 And some opinions are more opinions than others.
Rekka:07:19 And some opinions are so much more opinions than others. And this is the age of the Internet. I think everybody knows what an opinion feels like.
Kaelyn:07:28 Yeah. Um, and everyone has a platform to go express them. Um, so we're going to kind of -
Kaelyn:07:37 Let's start with that. Let's start with the platforms.
Rekka:07:39 What are the different forms that a review might take?
Kaelyn:07:45 So we were talking about this before we started the episode. I know it doesn't always sound like it, but we do plan things.
Rekka:07:50 How dare you? Don't tell them that you're going to ruin my reputation. My brand is my babble.
Kaelyn:07:59 Um, so we kind of tried to break this down into types of reviews. So right off the bat we said there's reviews from literary people and then there's reviews from readers.
Rekka:08:11 Right. There are people who review professionally.
Kaelyn:08:14 Professionally, yes.
Rekka:08:15 And then there are those who might pretend to review professionally.
Kaelyn:08:21 There are people that go on Amazon and goodreads. There's readers, there's people who are reviewing a book because they read it and had feelings about it rather than someone who's paying them.
Kaelyn:08:31 To review books.
Rekka:08:32 Yes. So let's be clear, a lot of literary reviews are paid reviews. There are an investment in the chance that their book will get a good review and therefore somebody puts money on the table and someone picks that money up and says, yes, thank you, I will read your book - just you wait.
Kaelyn:08:50 Yeah, but I mean also this could be someone who's just an editor at a magazine and this is what they did.
Kaelyn:08:55 Um, so, but within the literary, uh, reviews, uh, the professional reviewers, we've got also two types within there.
Rekka:09:03 Right? There's the paywall kind of review and the public media review. So when I say paywall, I'm talking about like trade publications. You need a subscription to read it on their website or to receive the print copies for those who still do that.
Rekka:09:18 Yeah. And just to be clear, the reason for this is they're doing two different things. Um, trade publications like Publishers Weekly, Kirkland, they are the ones that you need a subscription for. And the people that are going to subscribe to those are book buyers, libraries, bookstores, uh, you know, any sort of mass marketing. And a distribution site because they want to see what's good coming out that I should get a lot of. So the trade publications are, you know, the, if you want to call it industry side of things, the literary side of things, the media ones are like the New York Times Book Review. These are editors that work for some form of media that, you know, they just get a salary and they review these things and then write about them. So they're appealing more to readers. The people who are going to pick books up from that or the ones that are like -
Rekka:10:12 They're buying one copy.
Kaelyn:10:13 Yeah. And they want to know, ah, I, this sounds interesting. I'll read this one.
Rekka:10:19 Or I only read New York Times reviewed books.
Rekka:10:21 Because that means they're the ones that count.
Kaelyn:10:25 Yeah. That's a, that's a whole other,
Rekka:10:27 That's a mood.
Kaelyn:10:30 That's a thing. Um, so then the other side of it is of course the, the readers and these are the people that just, maybe they got the book off of, you know, a media machine that told them about it. Um, and they go online and write a review, say what they thought of the book. Um, you know, who else it might appeal to and any kind or not so kind things they have to say about it.
Rekka:10:55 So this can be book bloggers, book Youtubers.
Kaelyn:10:59 This could just be someone that bought the book on Amazon and then was like, I loved this and I want everyone to know how much I loved it or I hated this and I don't want anyone else to buy this book.
Rekka:11:09 Right. Um, so I would give it zero stars if I could.
Kaelyn:11:13 God, thank God that's not a thing, cause could you imagine? Um, so those are the main kind of two groups that we have here. So readers and industry individually. Yeah. So one of the, you know, one of the things you probably, I, I wondered this like when I was a kid, before I got into publication, I'd go buy a book and there was already a review on the cover and I was like, this came out two days ago.
Rekka:11:42 Time travel, Kaelyn. Time travel. They have figured it out. Publishing is keeping it to itself.
Kaelyn:11:46 I very clearly remember, I don't, I think I was like 14 I don't remember what book it was, but I went to Barnes and noble to buy it and it was a hardback book and I picked it up and there was a review on it. I was like, ho-how?
Rekka:12:00 My assumption as a child, because I had the same thought, was that it must be a second printing.
Kaelyn:12:05 Okay, see yours was more logical than mine. Mine -
Rekka:12:08 It was time problem.
Kaelyn:12:08 Mine was time travel. So books go out early to publish- to people in the industry. This could be authors that can give it a blurb. This could be places like Publishers Weekly that is going to write up a review for it. And we talked about a- ARCs quite a couple episodes ago.
Kaelyn:12:30 And these are the ARCs. This is what they're doing. This is why they're sent out into the wild.
Rekka:12:34 Going out to be seen with enough time because of course books take longer to consume than a movie or television episode. So the ARCs have gone out, people have had time to pour over them and hopefully fall in love. And maybe even start talking about them, share a photo of them. We talked to one of our other authors, Christopher Ruz recently. Um, and when I say our authors, I mean our, our little part of his family. Um, but Christopher Ruz had just literally before we got on the call, seen his book in the stack of books that John Scalzi, that's a, we're talking about the influencer that's like,
Kaelyn:13:13 Oh God, we have literary influencers.
Rekka:13:15 We have literary influencers, we do. So, um, yeah, so that's the thing too. So sometimes just having your book appear in a stack, it's a great, helpful, yeah.
Kaelyn:13:25 It's a great thing. It's just, you know, and it's fun. So, um, typically like ARCs might go out with blurbs from authors. You know, you circulate this to a few people, a bloggers, authors, people that will, you know, say like, Oh yeah, I read this and I loved it. And you put that on there.
Rekka:13:43 Hopefully it's phrased slightly better than that.
Kaelyn:13:46 That's what I always say. So, and then the ARCs that go or the publications that go out are gonna have the things from the reviews. And that's you know, five stars from -
Rekka:14:00 Yeah. So and so just in terms of a movie like the movie trailer that right the week before exactly has the five star and so and so says it's the must see hit of the summer kind of thing. And we're talking about those sorts of blurbs that can be used, um, to what is the, the term social, the reason you want reviews is it's like social proof.
Kaelyn:14:25 Oh, okay.
Rekka:14:26 So the reviews that you get from peers and other authors, um, will maybe convince the publications to pick it up and look at it. And then the publication reviews and blurbs on the covers will maybe convince the readers to pick it up and look at it because um, that's like the social proof that, um, that you require. And it's also partially why you want more reviews on your book page, product page on Amazon. Because again, it's social proof. It's flypaper if don't see reviews on a book, they assume no one has read it, which is a terrible thing to assume, but it's, it's flypaper. It's people go where there are more reviews. And the nice thing about having a ton of reviews is they tend to cancel out the ones that are not in the storyline in terms of, yeah, negative outliers. Like they do tend to be overwhelmed by true organic reviews as opposed to people with a, a vendetta against the book because of emotional trauma. They suffered from something else in their lives.
Kaelyn:15:40 So that's kind of the rundown of how the reviews are going. Um, you know, the advanced ones are going to be from advanced copies either for ARCs that were sent out or Netgalley. So then they start coming in.
Rekka:15:53 Right. And so they can help a book succeed.
Kaelyn:15:56 Oh, absolutely, they're crucial.
Rekka:15:58 Again, like we said, the social proof, they can influence the sales in the case of someone who is directly linking to the book and the book sells as a result of it appearing wherever it appeared. So that can be to both readers and booksellers, um, that is a direct sale influence. Um, it can also just help build your name recognition if someone is just hearing your name over and over and over again, they're going to forget that the first time they heard the name they decided not to make the purchase. You know, that they just keep hearing that um, you know, trail of lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse, is just incredible and they just keep hearing that trail of lightning by Rebecca around horses is just incredible.
Kaelyn:16:39 And you know what?
Rekka:16:39 Trail of Lightening. by Rebecca Roanhorse is incredible.
Kaelyn:16:42 And you know what, that's how I heard about it.
Kaelyn:16:45 I just kept hearing the title of
Rekka:16:48 Over and over again -
Kaelyn:16:49 Being mentioned and kept popping up in things and people were writing reviews and posting them to stuff and full confession: I still have just not had time to read it.
Rekka:16:58 I have read it. It is very good.
Kaelyn:17:00 But I have the copy of it and it's on my list. I just have not gotten to it yet.
Rekka:17:05 Well, I mean that is the life that is.
Kaelyn:17:07 Yeah. That's the thing about like you think like, oh, I love books. I'm going to do this. Oh, now I can't read anything that I want to read them. Yeah. Um, so yeah, reviews are very egr- , reviews can make or break a book and we don't like to think that's the case, but it is.
Rekka:17:24 So you have name recognition so that it will eventually influence somebody who might be open to that book in the first place to pick it up. And maybe it's not that they need to hear it 11 times before they buy it. That's not a conscious choice. But by seeing it over and over again, one of those times it's going to just hit the person on the right day in the right mood or it's going to be described differently in a new way that's going to make that person go, oh, that's what that is. Actually. I really want to read that. Um -
Kaelyn:17:53 I will, by the way, give you an example of that. I did not read the hunger games for a very long time until after it came out. Now, part of it was the cover copy. It just was not like, it just did not appeal to me, but it kept popping up, kept popping up and like your opinions about the hunger games aside, you know, it was fine, whatever.
Kaelyn:18:14 But that's the thing is that it was very successful and part of it was the reviews that I finally went and looked at them and I was like, everyone loves this book. Now, I kind of knew like, you know, this wasn't going to change my life, but like it was fine. It was good.
Kaelyn:18:30 You know. Um, so that's, you know, that's a good example of like this thing that I just kept, not only not buying, but actively avoiding.
Kaelyn:18:41 Yeah. Listen,
Rekka:18:42 And I've done that with, you know, Empire Records of the movie, you know,
Kaelyn:18:45 I'm going to make you watch it.
Rekka:18:46 Yes. I know. Um, so the name recognition, eventually you wear a person down and that's, uh, that is a marketing thing that people say it takes x number of con- points of contact before a person remembers you and it takes x number before they make the decision to purchase.
Kaelyn:19:03 I still probably would not have read that book if I hadn't checked out the reviews and saw that everyone was raving about.
Rekka:19:09 And something drew you to the page to go look at the reviews.
Kaelyn:19:13 Yeah. Because it kept coming up and I was like, alright, I gotta go see what's going on.
Rekka:19:17 Yeah. What am I missing? Um, so it will, and that's sort of the next point. It will help a reader make a decision. Is this for me? That is, that is another question that many readers who manage to control their TBR piles, they ask like, is this one that I'm actually going to enjoy or is this, you know, some readers need to know that when they sit down with a book, it's going to hit the marks of things that they enjoy in a book. And so reviews, um, without spoiling can still, we'll just kind of like hint at like, oh, it's got romance, it's got adventure, it's got kickass feminine lead characters. It's got magic. It's got baby dragons. Like governments being overthrown.
Kaelyn:20:03 I have a question.
Rekka:20:04 Can I have a baby dragon?
Kaelyn:20:05 Is this a book that exists?
Rekka:20:08 I wasn't naming one in particular.
Kaelyn:20:09 No, I'm just saying like, I mean I'm just saying there's -.
Rekka:20:12 You asked me what I was going to write next. There you go, I'll write that for you.
Kaelyn:20:14 Thank you.
Rekka:20:15 And then remind me what I said. I'll have to listen to that.
Kaelyn:20:17 We'll go back to the recording. Just going to give you a list of like Rekka for your next book. What about my editor? He's not important, for your next book.
Rekka:20:27 So, so we did say that a review can draw other media attention. So like you might end up getting on a couple of book lists from other people because they saw a review that made them pick it up.
Kaelyn:20:39 Yeah and by the way, just a quick aside, I think this is a common misunderstanding that all of this, you know, stuff needs to be beforehand, right.
Rekka:20:48 A lot of stuff with books comes after as follows.
Kaelyn:20:51 Yeah. Where the it picks up and then suddenly you're on book lists and people like, we think that reviews from major outlets only come beforehand. That's not true at all. Lot of them come after.
Rekka:21:01 And it's frustrating when, um, you know, from a little weak author's perspective when you hear that like a publisher will stop paying attention to your book after a certain amount of time.
Kaelyn:21:13 Definitely not. Yeah.
Rekka:21:14 No, we don't want that because it's possible.
Kaelyn:21:16 No. And it's, um, you know, sometimes it's simply a matter of you can only make the book available to so many people before it's released. Some people just have to wait until it comes out.
Kaelyn:21:28 It's not fair. And I should get every book I want right now. Yes. Um, but I'm told I have to wait sometimes.
Rekka:21:35 So, um, when people start reviewing on product pages after a book has been released, you know, or as soon as Amazon will allow you to leave the reviews or good reads will let you leave them early. Amazon, you need to at least have the ebook.
Kaelyn:21:53 Amazon's weird.
Rekka:21:53 They're changing the rules. I mean, I'd rather have a four star review that says, I can't wait to read it than a three star review that said, Oh my God, I love this. I can't wait to read the next one.
Kaelyn:22:03 We will get to that.
Rekka:22:04 We'll get to that. So, um, all of these data points that people are leaving on the Internet because that's frankly the world we exist in. Now. These data points feed the algorithms additional data to drive the search -
Kaelyn:22:18 Ah the delicious data slurry that feeds the algorithms.
Rekka:22:20 Yes, you'll lose your boots trying to walk through it, but you know, it is sticky, gooey goodness that will drive people to your books who are in theory a good match. And the reason that these algorithms are designed to find you good matches is because Amazon and the others want a reputation for their recommendations to be valuable.
Rekka:22:43 So they want their search results to make people happy, which means they want to deliver people to products that will make them happy. Your book is a product, I'm sorry to tell you that again and again and again, but it's true. And Amazon wants to find people who want to buy your book because then they will pay Amazon for your book and then Amazon will get more money because that's what they need desperately. They are starving.
Kaelyn:23:03 It's really sad. And I think we should moment of silence for Amazon.
Rekka:23:06 Maybe just start a Go Fund Me cause we got to get on with the episode.
Kaelyn:23:09 It's true.
Rekka:23:09 All right. So, um, so those algorithms will find good readers. So you want people to leave accurate reviews for how they feel about it because then Amazon will match their purchase history and other books they have enjoyed and find other people similar to them. This is kind of like building your audience with Facebook pixels. Um, and then by finding those people, Amazon will serve your booked to people who are better suited to read it and then leave you more positive reviews. So it's a good thing.
Kaelyn:23:40 It's a great thing.
Rekka:23:40 It's just that it can be frustrating because as we've mentioned earlier in the episode, the Internet is full of opinions.
Kaelyn:23:46 Yes. So -
Rekka:23:48 And some people choose to bless you with their opinion whether you want it or not. Okay. So the other side of that was that there are pitfalls to reviews and we've touched on them. We have hinted at them. We have ironically sarcastically said things so far in the episode to give you the impression that sometimes the reviews will not be positive.
Kaelyn:24:06 Yeah. And let's just get it right out of the way. Right off the gate. Bad reviews are hard to deal with and process and this is coming from, you know the - Rekka. You guys can't see Rekka making a sad face right now.
Rekka:24:20 I never make a happy face.
Kaelyn:24:22 I as a publisher also obviously hate bad reviews and nothing is more infuriating than seeing one where somebody is upset about something that they shouldn't have been.
Rekka:24:35 Or has nothing to do with the book.
Kaelyn:24:36 Or has nothing to do with the book or will halfway admit through the review: I only read the first three chapters.
Rekka:24:43 One star. The book came damaged.
Kaelyn:24:45 Yeah. Oh that's a good one yeah.
Rekka:24:48 That's one of the best.
Kaelyn:24:49 So you know, the thing about these sites is everyone gets to put their opinion on there and it's good because for the most part it's helpful for books.
Kaelyn:25:01 But especially if your book is, you know, just recently launched and your reviews are slowly trickling in and you get like a one one star and that knocked some your -
Rekka:25:09 Just suddenly your average that goes from like 4.7 to like 2.3 and I know that's not how math works. But yes.
Kaelyn:25:18 And that's incredibly frustrating and it can take an emotional toll. It can, I, I understand that. Like, you know, this can, that can ruin your day. That can ruin your week.
Rekka:25:30 Yup. Um, don't read reviews before bed. Let me just put that right down to that. So one of the pitfalls of bad reviews and negative reviews is hurt feelings and they are probably going to be on the part of the people who can't really do anything about it, the publisher and the author. Because as we'll get to later, you're not going to respond to individuals don't like that, but they will also potentially, if it's an influencer who chooses to take particular exception to you and they don't just leave a review in the comments that like falls into the sea of other reviews, but they choose to actually take to their platform to denounce your book. That can influence sales of their followers and some influencers do have a large, they carry avidly attentive crowd of followers who will do what this influencer says.
Rekka:26:23 We were, another thing we were talking about before we got started here was you've got to have a little bit of a thick skin going into this and you can't. I know it's so much easier said than done and this is coming from two people who have to deal with this stuff. You can't take it personally.
Rekka:26:43 You have to figure out how you're going to use this information.
Kaelyn:26:45 Yeah, I understand that this is the most personal thing in the world. This is your book. This is years of your life, hours and hours that you will never get back.
Rekka:26:55 And potentially income if the review costs you money.
Kaelyn:26:57 Potentially income, it's not personal. I hope it's not, anyway, some -
Rekka:27:04 Eh, yeah, that's, that's part of it, you know?
Kaelyn:27:07 But, but if you get a bad review and it's a genuinely just, I did not enjoy this book, look at it as this person just didn't enjoy this book. Look at all of these other people that did like,.
Rekka:27:19 Just to quickly sum that up, there are only two real problems with bad reviews. One, you're not going to feel good about them. And two, they might negatively impact your sales. Chances are they're just going to eventually drown in the sea of other reviews or be forgotten. So how do you react to bad reviews?
Kaelyn:27:36 Don't. That's just don't.
Rekka:27:40 But you have feelings. I'm saying like, okay, you're, you're mistaking that for responding.
Rekka:27:46 I'm not, I'm not saying respond.
Rekka:27:48 Okay. So now that you have bad reviews or good reviews there, they're both emotional.
Kaelyn:27:57 Oh, absolutely.
Rekka:27:57 Highs and lows, highs and lows and that sort of thing. So how do you react? One is -
Kaelyn:28:03 Let's go with good reviews first.
Kaelyn:28:05 That's the easier one to -
Rekka:28:06 One is you can use those reviews if they're fantastic.
Rekka:28:10 Those are yours. Now retweet them if they're posted publicly. Yeah, you just cite the source of the review and if it's like some weird username on Amazon, you can just say Amazon reviewer or something or um, retweet them if you found them on Twitter. Um, if you have a product page for your book on your website, you can just start listing your favorite good reviews there. And it's not a bad practice to save your good reviews cause Amazon might randomly take them down one day, which is obnoxious and frustrating.
Kaelyn:28:37 Well and this is horrible, that something can happen to Amazon and then everything's gone.
Rekka:28:41 Everything that Amazon owns is gone. If they suddenly decide that they make spaceships now instead of sell everything in the universe.
Kaelyn:28:49 I mean spaceships are probably only a matter of time.
Rekka:28:51 Yes. But that will be this separate section of Amazon so they can shut down the books department. Um, yeah. So if something were to happen to Amazon, somebody finally takes enough of an issue that they hack Amazon or whatever and wipe their databases and all their backups there go your reviews. So it's always good to save the reviews you want to be able to access again later. So put them on your book page. Just keep a file in, you know, private, you don't even have to share it and post it anywhere, but just keep a file of all of the good reviews you've gotten and their sources so that you can use them someday if you need to have like if you want to add praise for something that you can credit them properly cause yes those are your reviews. They were posted publicly. You can use them in your marketing, but you also want to credit the person who gave them to you. Definitely because it's not social proof. If you just to have good things to say about your own book. So you can use them in cover blurbs. If they're well written, obviously cover blurb has to be a little bit shorter than the average review. So somebody writes it in a pithy manner and there's like a great sentence that you can highlight and pull out. You can put that on a cover blurb or on a, um, you know, industry praise page inside your book, stuff like that. Um, use it on the book description of your product pages. Amazon and other book sites have a field in the product listing specifically for reviews that are um, you know, separate on the page. They don't want them like bogging down to book description, but they have a spot you can put them. So absolutely put them there. If you have a great review blurb from somebody that you know, their name is worth something, um, which sounds really transactional, but like at that point, that person has given you that review for that purpose.
Kaelyn:30:33 And you know what that's it. It sounds transactional. It is, but it's important.
Rekka:30:38 And it's mutual.
Kaelyn:30:39 You know, it's how it's how things go. And it is just, um, a series of people helping the ones, the next ones get a leg up.
Rekka:30:47 Yes, absolutely. So, um, those are the good reviews.
Kaelyn:30:50 Those are the good reviews.
Rekka:30:51 Now I will give the next piece of advice, but it also applies to good reviews or don't have it. Don't respond to that review in a comment thread on the reviews page of Amazon. Yes, you are not partaking in a message board about your books on Amazon. You are not the target audience for those reviews. Yes, you would probably not able to help yourself from reading them, but they are not for you. They are for future potential readers of your book.
Rekka:31:22 Do not engage. Do not make the reviewers feel like you are breathing down their necks and about to, you know, come at them if they don't leave a review that's worthy of your, you know, affection or whatever. Even good reviews. If you start commenting on all of them, you can start to make readers feel pretty uncomfortable.
Kaelyn:31:42 A lot of people who write reviews, especially on Amazon and goodreads, maybe, you know, that's a little more community driven thing, I think. Amazon, they're reviewing a product and as far as they know, they're doing it in a void. They're not there to interact with people. They're there to leave their thoughts. And a lot of reviewers I think don't really think about how, especially for the first month or so, the author is compulsively checking this, looking for reviews.
Kaelyn:32:14 I think if they, they're just going, oh cool, I'm going to, I liked this book. I'm going to tell people about how I liked this book. So when they find that the author is reading these and then as interacting with them, I think that kind of mentally pulls them out of
Rekka:32:33 It also may prevent them from reviewing everyone else's things in the future because they might feel that this is a thing that happens. So they can't leave an honest review and then they may just feel nervous about it and stop reviewing and that is not what anyone wants.
Kaelyn:32:47 Yeah. So, um, let's get into what happens when you get a bad review.
Rekka:32:52 And so again, don't engage that review is still not for you, even if they are not seeming to take something personal from that. Yeah. If they are personally saying, you know, such and such authors should never have gotten a publishing deal.
Kaelyn:33:12 That is still just their opinion by the way, that person's just a jerk.
Rekka:33:17 Right, but there are reviews like that. Exactly. You might want to engage, you might want to send your friends or fans to engage.
Kaelyn:33:25 Don't do it.
Rekka:33:26 Don't, don't even, because again, the idea with all of those is that reviewers are supposed to be reviewing books in a vacuum, yet they're not supposed to be a influenced by anything or be afraid of anything. If they wanted to have a conversation with you about your books, you probably have a contact form on your website or they can find you on Twitter or on Facebook or Instagram. They will come find you, if they want to engage with you, the fact -
Kaelyn:33:53 Which even then probably still don't engage.
Rekka:33:55 There's another, yeah, there's another little bit about that on Twitter. There you will frequently see keeps coming up. Don't add an author if you're leaving a negative review on Twitter, like there's just don't. So that may still happen and that may, I would just say when it comes to negative reviews, just you have to be able to dust off your shoulder and walk away without engaging, it is so difficult not to react emotionally to this.
Kaelyn:34:22 Well, can I ask you, how did you feel when you got your first negative review?
Rekka:34:26 Oh, I've never gotten negative review. No. Um, um, I was crushed. I was absolutely crushed and I was shaking. Um, and it was devastating for me for the rest of the day. I couldn't focus and I couldn't. Um, I couldn't think of anything else.
Kaelyn:34:50 And I will say conversely, when books that I've worked on and especially, you know, early reviews and stuff and they get less than stellar reviews, um, I get very upset, um.
Rekka:35:03 Hot under the collar about it for the rest of the day at least.
Kaelyn:35:06 And I think we as people have this like, I need to set this person straight.
Kaelyn:35:11 You can't, don't do that.
Rekka:35:12 Like the person says one thing that makes you realize that they didn't quite understand what you were going to need to describe it to them.
Kaelyn:35:19 That's what I was edging towards and we can lead into now is there's probably two major kinds of bad reviews. One is, I didn't like this, either, you know, it wasn't for me. I didn't like the story. I didn't like the writing. I didn't connect with it, the characters.
Rekka:35:35 And that's just, that's just a review and that's just what it is.
Kaelyn:35:38 However the other -
Rekka:35:39 No, no, no. I've got more to say about that one. If that person is helpful, yeah, they might say, I picked up this book thinking it was going to be just like Stephen King's dark towers and your book has nothing like Stephen King's dark towers. That's a fantastic review for you to have because one person has stopped other dark towers fans for purchasing your book and leaving the same review. So we covered that a little bit before, but I'm just saying like that review where it's like, I was expecting this but I got this. It's honest. It's not necessarily wrong unless they are wrong and it's not whatever they say.
Kaelyn:36:12 And it's not personal.
Rekka:36:13 It's not personal, it's just like, well, I really thought I was getting something else.
Kaelyn:36:16 So that's, that's one kind of bad review and we can, we can argue which one is harder to deal with. But the other is, and this is from my end, this is the frustrating one. The people who just either clearly didn't read it past a few chapters or are being obtuse about it.
Rekka:36:37 Um, I won't say didn't understand it because I hate that, you know, I don't like the well, you just didn't get it because my answer to that is always, well that's a problem then.
Kaelyn:36:47 Um, but the flip side of that is people who don't get it because the did not read it well or they didn't put the effort into it and you're absolutely going to get some of those because people, some people write very long reviews and they'll be like, and this thing was never addressed. And it's like, no, no, we did address that. We did answer that question. This is something that's talked about in the book and it's incredibly frustrating because now you've got this glaring ugly review sitting there.
Rekka:37:14 That makes it look as though you have not answered it. And the only way that you can prove that you did is if someone picks it up anyway and you feel like this review is going to prevent that from happening.
Kaelyn:37:23 Exactly. That is an incredibly, and I think that those are the kind that really drive people over the edge. The ones that are just like, I didn't like it. That's sad and upsetting in its own right. Yeah, because you know that's something that you can't do anything about. The ones where it's like this person gave me a horrible review on a book that they clearly did not pay attention.
Rekka:37:45 Attention to. Yeah. And these this day and age, frankly people are on their phones all the time. I've seen people reading and then pick up their phone and then go back to reading and it's like how, how much attention are you paying to either of those things? Like can you've really focused the way people used to focus on books when there wasn't a constant input device.
Kaelyn:38:04 So don't get me wrong, I fast read some books, but if I don't feel like I want, like if I'm kind of not feeling great about them when I finish them, I'm kind of like, I probably missed something.
Kaelyn:38:14 Um, and this is, this is a personality default thing. I think there's two ways people can go. There's the me where it's like, I must have missed something here. And then there's the, well, they just didn't do it.
Rekka:38:24 I'm the right one. I am correct all the time. Forever. I've never been wrong. Um, so, so I would like to say that there are also, there are two other kinds of reviews.
Kaelyn:38:33 Oh, okay.
Rekka:38:33 We're going further with, we're going for, I can drill this down as an author. I feel targeted by more, more than just the two typefaces -
Kaelyn:38:39 Do they fit into these two categories?
Rekka:38:40 I tried. And I really tried. They there, they might be cousins. Um, one is the person who says, I didn't finish it. I didn't, I couldn't read past chapter one. Here's my review of the entire book.
Kaelyn:38:56 Well, I would put that in the people that didn't pay attention to it category.
Rekka:39:01 I feel like that's more of a conscious decision not to read the book and still give an opinion as opposed to the people who think they read the book versus the people who know that they shut the cover before they got to the end.
Kaelyn:39:12 All right, so that's one.
Rekka:39:13 And then the, well that's number three and number four is the, I really enjoyed this book. I am looking forward to the next one. Three stars. She's laughing because she's early because she knew what
Kaelyn:39:29 I - this is. These reviews as -
Rekka:39:32 This is well written -
Kaelyn:39:33 These ones.
Rekka:39:34 I really enjoyed this. I could see it as a movie. Three stars.
Kaelyn:39:37 These reviews as a publisher are the bane of my existence.
Kaelyn:39:45 I, you know, if you go look up Parvus books, you can definitely, you know, find a few of these. It takes every ounce of restraint I have in me not to write back to this person. I loved this book. It hooked me at the first chapter, kept me engaged to the end. There were a few couple little things that I didn't like. This character that I didn't understand but oh boy, I hope this author's got another book coming out in this same world. I can't wait to read it. Three out of five stars, three out of five stars is not a, I can't wait to read the next book, review and Rekka and I are climbing up on a soapbox right now because we're taking this a little out of the, you know the etiquette realm of things and taking it more into the,
Rekka:40:34 Because my reaction to that is motherfucker, what?
Kaelyn:40:39 Reviews are as we've just spent the last half hour or so talking about, very important.
Rekka:40:44 And they are well defined by the platforms on which you leave them.
Rekka:40:48 Which is also part of the problem because sometimes the platforms on which you leave them if you leave them on multiples, the three star review that Goodreads tells you is a positive review on Amazon is considered pure critical.
Kaelyn:41:01 Yes. Which is weird because Amazon owns Goodreads, so they should probably sync those two things up.
Rekka:41:06 Amazon since they bought Goodreads has Not turned good reads into an Amazon thing, which is they've just held onto it. But the reviews is something they really should bring into alignment because there are people who believe, I mean, there are people on Goodreads whose profiles say you have to earn my five star review. And it's like, why are you coming off like that?
Kaelyn:41:25 Well, and that's another thing is that I think I can go
Rekka:41:28 You need friends that you can go just let loose on and you know that they're not going to go into the comments either they're all just gonna sit around and go, oh man, Gosh, some people. So you need someone that you can trust. Like I know I can send Kaelyn a text with a screenshot and just go look at this one. Look at this. Just peach and precious, precious reviewer. I'm really reigning in my language here. Um, you know, thanks for that. Thanks. You're so helpful.
Kaelyn:41:56 I will not bring in my language and I will write back that fucking yeah of God. No, I get it. Just, just ignore them. Rekka you're, you're too good for them.
Rekka:42:07 Yeah. So it's um, you need a circle of friends where your frustration over the review is not going to leave the circle salt, the edges of the circle. Keep your view on the, your opinions about the review on the inside and keep the reviews on the outside. I mean, there was a reason that the advice is frequently repeated to not read the reviews. I think everybody knows nobody's following that.
Kaelyn:42:30 No one's going to not do that.
Rekka:42:31 That - how curious, how can you just like let a book out into the world and not wonder how it's doing?
Kaelyn:42:37 Go! Be free!
Rekka:42:37 Yeah, no, we like, you know, nature scientists tag their, their studies specimen, you have reviews and we're always checking back in and we want to know that the book is loved as much as we love it.
Kaelyn:42:50 Yeah. So it's hard. It's not fun. You can't engage, you can't do anything. You are going to come off as the bonkers one in that situation.
Rekka:43:02 Every time. And what you need to do is train yourself to have your reaction privately to like walk away from a computer. So there's no chance of sending out a signal into the world about your reaction to it.
Kaelyn:43:14 If you want to walk away, go stand in your backyard and scream.
Kaelyn:43:19 That's fine because there is no situation in which you -
Rekka:43:24 Can improve that review.
Kaelyn:43:26 I won't say go after someone, but interact with them after a bad review that makes you look good at the end of -
Rekka:43:34 Or makes them want to change the review for the better.
Kaelyn:43:36 Well that too. That's another, yeah, that's certainly not going to help. There is no circumstances under which you leave this better. The only other thing is that maybe this person also doesn't look as good now, but that even then is not going to help you because you're not there to go online and bully people. Your job as an author is not to use your platform to go online and bully people who don't like your writing.
Kaelyn:44:01 So it's hard. Deep breaths, tea, coffee, vodka.
Rekka:44:07 Share it with people.
Kaelyn:44:08 Whatever your, put the vodka in the tea. Yes, whatever you need to, but try. Your first one is going to be the, that's like someone hitting you in the chest with a sledgehammer.
Rekka:44:23 Or an axe.
Kaelyn:44:24 An axe whichever. I mean, you're going to get the wind knocked at you. You're going to feel horrible. It's not fun. And then you will look back and go, remember that time I got that first bad review and how I cried for three days. Oh my God. Now I'm just like, ha, bring it.
Rekka:44:39 Um, when does that happen? Can I have some of that?
Kaelyn:44:42 You've got a bit to go.
Rekka:44:42 Yeah, the badies still hurt. They don't get the, it never feels good to have someone go online and drag you.
Kaelyn:44:49 Yeah, of course not.
Rekka:44:50 And they might not even think they're dragging you
Rekka:44:53 They see a three-star review as positive.
Kaelyn:44:56 But that's the thing. They're not going online to drag you. You're going online to review your book. Now we should say, there are some jerks in the world.
Rekka:45:05 Right. There are people who use, as Kaelyn said before, the ability to criticize others as a way to make themselves feel like more valuable people.
Kaelyn:45:15 Exactly. And, and those, there's nothing you can do about those people. And to be honest with you, the best thing to do with those people is just say, I don't want to know or be around this person anyway. They're clearly a jerk.
Rekka:45:28 But you're not saying it to them. You're saying it to yourself because you are never ever going to speak to.
Kaelyn:45:31 Never going to say it to them. Yes and pick your head up, read the good reviews, print, print them out and leave them next to your computer for it if something happens and remind yourself that you know that you made a good book because you worked with a good group of people, you put the time and effort in and other people are buying it and telling you how much they like it. And I understand that is a hard thing to mentally get over. But to do this you have to have thick skin a little bit because anytime you are putting something out in the world, you were making it available for other people to criticize.
Rekka:46:04 All of them. You cannot control who gets to read your book.
Kaelyn:46:08 Yes, but on a happy note, a lot of people are going to read it. They're going to like it and they're going to tell you how much they like it. So stick with that.
Rekka:46:16 Stick with that and do it yourself.
Rekka:46:18 If there's a book you love an author, you love all their stuff. Go start some bank up, some good book review Karma.
Rekka:46:26 And go leave positive reviews. And of course, as we said, remember three star review is considered critical.
Kaelyn:46:31 And just remember you're probably gonna make someone's day.
Rekka:46:34 You make someone's Day with a four or five star review that just pick your favorite moments without spoilers and just gush for a little bit. It doesn't hurt anybody and it feels really good.
Kaelyn:46:43 Yup. And you're going to make someone's day, Two people because they're editor's going to go [squealing]
Rekka:46:47 Yeah. And the people, they share it with
Kaelyn:46:51 Yes exactly
Rekka:46:52 - next to them in the living room that they read it aloud.
Kaelyn:46:54 Your editor gets just as worked up and excited about these things as you do. So,
Kaelyn:46:59 So anyway, um, that's a happy note to end on, right.
Rekka:47:03 Hey, speaking of reviews,
Rekka:47:05 If our listeners could leave us a rating, or a reveiw -
Kaelyn:47:08 Yes, speaking of reviews.
Rekka:47:10 That would be so amazing. Go Find Apple's podcast platform and leave a -
Kaelyn:47:14 Whatever form it exists in this future.
Rekka:47:18 Yeah, we still don't know. Maybe you do. Maybe, maybe we still don't. Maybe -
Kaelyn:47:22 You can comment and let us know.
Rekka:47:23 Yes. And so leave a star rating on Apple's iTunes, whatever it is, podcast platform. And if you have a little bit of time to say why you love the podcast, the reviews really help boost that algorithm even more. We like to feed the algorithm.
Kaelyn:47:41 Rekka, look at you with your segways today. I'm so impressed.
Rekka:47:43 I got this going on. I got you. Um, yes. So all, all power to the Algorithm and um, let's please, if you could leave a rating review, you can also send us your publishing and writing questions at @WMBcast on Twitter. Our DMs are always open. If you're a little shy and uh, at @WNBcast on Instagram, it's a little harder to collect questions there, but you can find some cute photos of our mascot, chunky boy on Instagram.
Kaelyn:48:13 And also some pictures of uh, guess what we're going to do later today?
Rekka:48:17 We are going axe throwing.
Kaelyn:48:18 Rekka's taking me to throw axes.
Rekka:48:19 Speaking of bad reviews and figuring out healthy ways to get around them.
Kaelyn:48:24 I'm so excited. I've never done this before. And um, we're gonna see how many fingers I have left when, uh,
Rekka:48:30 if you're holding the ax correctly, the fingers should not be in any danger whatsoever. Well you say that you did mention you're putting tea in your vodka later, so yeah.
Rekka:48:40 So, um, so come engage with us on Twitter, Instagram. You can also find us and support us if you're able on patreon.com/WMBcast.com And that will help us pay for a transcription and, um, audio production so that we have more time to come up with great answers for your publishing and writing questions.
Kaelyn:49:03 Yep. So, uh, thanks everyone so much for listening. Uh, this was fun episode.
Rekka:49:08 Yeah, we got.
Kaelyn:49:10 We got on the soapbox a little bit at the end there.
Rekka:49:12 But I think every author is on that soapbox with us. It's like dancing on the head of a pin.
Kaelyn:49:15 Fair, um fair.
Rekka:49:16 We have a special month of topics coming up, so we'd love to collect questions
Kaelyn:49:23 Yes we do, we mentioned this in a previous episode that we were thinking of doing it. We're definitely going to do it. Oh, we're going to do submissions September.
Kaelyn:49:31 Which is, we're gonna do four episodes that month, so weekly.
Rekka:49:35 Weekly episodes.
Rekka:49:37 And we are going to talk about submissions. Um, we're kind of putting together what our topics are going to be, what we're going to cover every week. But if we get any particular feedback about things, people would like to hear about anything they have questions about, uh, we can definitely factor that in. Um, so yeah, four episodes in September and we're going to be talking about submissions because I think that is,
Rekka:50:02 That's a big one.
Rekka:50:02 That's a big one for a lot of people.
Rekka:50:04 That's the gatekeeper.
Rekka:50:04 Yeah, exactly. So, um, you know, when we were planning out episodes, we, we had some topics we wanted to talk about and then we decided maybe we should just group all of this together. And then two weeks between them seemed like too much. So we're gonna -
Rekka:50:19 And only two episodes on the subject and said no, there's, no way
Rekka:50:22 Yeah and we were writing down what we want to talk about and there were, there was a lot. So, um, yeah. Anyway, uh, send us, send us questions about that or even, you know, we'd love to hear like your own experiences with things and um, what you wish you knew, what, what no one told you, what you were afraid of and it didn't turn out that way at all or what you didn't even know to be afraid of honestly.
Rekka:50:43 So, you know, give us the whole, the whole experience is the way you understood it. And um, we'll, you know, maybe one of our, um, neat things can be to like read people's experiences if they're willing to share them.
Rekka:50:56 Mark, if you give us your story, definitely mark whether or not you want us to share it. Um, so yeah, that's something that's coming up. So if you hear this now, we are probably already planning to record, so do send us your questions quickly. I know that September seems like it's really far away, but you know how this works, the year evaporates.
Rekka:51:13 Yeah I can't believe.
Rekka:51:15 Anyway, so that's coming up. So look forward to that and we will talk to you in two more weeks and, um, we will be picking a question from the audience, kind of, um, picking a topic that seems to be coming up a lot, so, so, Yep.
Rekka:51:30 All right. Well, thanks everyone so much for listening and, uh, we'll see you in two weeks.
Rekka:51:33 Yeah. Leave that rating and review and really appreciate it. Huh?