The first ‘bad’ review

Because it’s going to happen. As sure as the sun also sets, as certain as the hot cross bun getting caught in the toaster and setting off the fire alarm when you’re trying to have a drunken snack at 1am, waking your wife and children – if you get over the hurdle of absolutely no-one reading your work – if you actively solicit the opinions of others, desperate for the oxygen of publicity, hoping it will feed the smouldering embers of word of mouth and somehow, some way, cause your book to catch fire and sell, propelled on a wave of 5 star reviews and increased sales and the vagaries of the Amazon algorithms to the top ten of the >kindle >thriller >noire >unreliable narrator >two stories included chart – if you do that, you will sooner or later, probably sooner, get a ‘bad’ review.

Yes, I used the dreaded air quote. Yes, it’s because I’m about to say something really stupid. Ready?

There’s no such thing as a bad review.

I know it doesn’t feel like that in the moment. I know when you have 5 reviews and one of them is a 2 star one, and your average crashes from 4.1 to 2.85 it’s kind of the end of the world.

But here’s the thing – it really really isn’t. For starters, if you only have 5 or 6 reviews, one bad one isn’t going to make a big enough dent to hurt your long term chances because, as things stand, you’re absolutely nowhere anyway (sorry, but check my Amazon page for ‘The Loving Husband…’ and you’ll see I’m not announcing this from a lofty cloud or anything). That’s okay, by the way. It’s where almost everyone starts. If your book is good, you will get to 200 reviews,and almost all of them will be 4 or 5 stars, and that lone 2 will make no dent at all on your lovely average rating. It’s just, probably not tonight. Think about Stephen King and that railway spike of rejection letters. And he was Stephen King. It takes years and years and years of putting out high quality writing, rewarding that small band of people who buy your stuff with ever more impressive stories, each time ushering a few more into the fold, spreading the word, building a buzz.If you’re dead, then congratulations, you have failed as a writer (and stop reading my blog, you’re stinking up the joint). Still sucking breath? There’s still time. Keep writing.

Also, dirty secret time – no-one is universally popular. I don’t write bad reviews – if I don’t like something, I simply don’t leave a rating – but if I did, Mr. Dickens would be getting a rude awakening for some of his so-called ‘classics’. Think about your own taste. I bet every single person reading this (yes, both of you) can with no effort name at least one big name author all your writer friends adore that you think is garbage. Well, guess what, kiddo, that’s how someone feels about you. It’s a cruel world, no doubt.

Also also, here’s the thing – even a bad review (well, even one that isn’t some version of U HAVE TEH SUCK) will have something interesting in it – something that will make you think about your writing in a different way. Hell, one of the best compliments I’ve yet received for ‘The Loving Husband…’ came from my only 2 star review (to date – Goodreads, and no, sorry, I’ve suddenly forgotten how to hyperlink, forgive me) – ‘it’s almost like the two stories were written by different people!’ Seriously, how can you top that? Mission acomplished, I’d say (apart from the whole ‘hating it’ thing, obv).

So, you’re going to get bad reviews. And it will always sting. But in the words of the indomitable Mercedes Murdock Yardley, suck it up, buttercup. All it means is one more person read your book. If you’re really serious about writing, and you really believe in what you’re doing, that has to be, by definition, A Good Thing.

Here’s to the next one. 


PS –  Talking of reviews, Bookie Monster were kind enough to recommend ‘The Loving Husband…’ to ” readers who are looking for an adult drama with aspects of psychological horror.” – which let’s face it, that’s you, isn’t it? Sure it  is. 🙂

Frank Errington had more nice things to about my writing, this time in his review of the ‘Till Death Do Us Part’ anthology. Find out what that nice young man Kit Power has been writing here.

The Author Alliance posted a seriously in-depth interview with me, which was jolly nice of them.

And finally, I haz an Amazon author page. So you know, if you are reading this having read either of my publications to date, and you enjoyed them, feel free to click through, leave a review, and make my evening.  🙂



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