Why negative reviews are better than no reviews

I got a negative review today. It’s not bad; actually it’s pretty good for a negative review… because it’s complaining about how I’m choosing to publish, while admitting the writing is good and she’ll probably buy the next book.

Negative reviews like that are probably better than positive reviews.

People don’t really trust 5 star reviews and most people will jump to the 1 and 2 star reviews. If there aren’t any negative reviews, people will question all of the positive reviews.

So you want some negative reviews.

But you don’t want ones that tear the book apart. But anyway, it’s not a big deal, because lots of readers will just look at the review average. I have 149 reviews on Shearwater, out of which, 2 are 1 star, and 2 are 2 star.

But here’s the thing about reviews: people only take time to review books that they care about.

Reviews are generally a response to how well an author meets and exceeds a reader’s expectations.

If you’re getting lots of negative reviews, it means you are attracting the wrong reader, or raising expectations to heights that don’t get met. It’s not just that your book didn’t wow them, it’s that they were expecting to be wowed. Which means, even if they hated it, they kind of liked it, too. Or at least they wanted to like it.

That means you’re doing something right. Maybe your design or marketing is awesome. Maybe you got lots of positive reviews or a killer description.

Whatever you’re doing, you’re getting people to review, that’s great.

The danger is, when you get a majority of negative reviews (the expectations you set are not being met…. people are disappointed). But I would argue, at least you tried, and it’s still better than getting zero reviews.

Zero reviews means, the book just didn’t matter enough. Maybe they did finish reading it. Maybe they liked it but it was just OK. It didn’t hold their interest, and they’ll forget it quickly.

That’s not where you want to be.

So don’t stress those negative reviews, just keep finding new ways to WOW your readers.

About Derek Murphy

I help authors and artists turn their passions into full-time businesses, make a bigger impact, and blaze a luminous trail of creative independence. Right now I'm in Taiwan finishing a PHD in Literature, writing several books, and managing a handful of online businesses. Find me

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