Good evening my friends, family, and fans. I hope you all had a fantastic Canada Day and Independence Day… I am happy that I didn’t hear anything too outrageous like moose riding or bear wrestling, shooting roman candles at each others butts, or hanging people off telephone poles by their underpants. I feel like we had a great time! Amazing!
This post is called the Dreaded 2-Stars, which all authors can relate to. Whether you’re just starting out or are seasoned with multiple works released, nothing brings dread more than the anxiety of being rated with less than a 3.
Traditionally published authors receive an unfathomable amount of reviews, so scoring a few reviews of 2-stars or less doesn’t affect their ratings as dramatically as the self-published authors – though it probably still hurts.
Indie authors, and self-published authors, it is so hard for us to get reviews from the community especially when people have never heard of us. Reading a book costs money to buy it, and time to read it. Sometimes people outright refuse to read non-traditionally published books, and sometimes they don’t want to invest in something that isn’t front and center at Barnes and Noble, or featured as book of the month at Indigo/Chapters. They don’t want to take a chance on something that their friends aren’t talking about, or something that hasn’t been personally recommended by a celebrity.
The way to gain more reviews and build our fan bases, is by having several positive reviews and ratings going in. This will help you get more sales, which will help you get more reviews, and if the majority are positive, will help you to continue to build your fan base, and then it begins to snowball.
There are several ways to gather reviews, and I’m not talking about a half dozen reviews of “OH MY GOD BEST BOOK EVER” because nobody cares about reviews like that. Reviews help you sell your book just as much as the cover, description, and your marketing. In my next post I will cover ways for indie authors to get reviews.
What happens when it backfires? When people start slamming your book? When you start accumulating multiple poor ratings and bad reviews? That is our kryptonite. The dreaded 2-star ratings, the terrible 1-star reviews, and there’s not much we can do to prevent those, except submit the best work possible. And even then, good reviews aren’t guaranteed. Some people cannot connect with your voice, your style, your ideas. I’ve made small list of things you can do to help prevent the dreaded 2-star, but even these won’t make you invincible.
1. Make sure your book is edited.
You’re wasting your own time and everyone else’s. I shouldn’t be checking out professional review sites and they have a huge portfolio of books reviewed that scored terribly because of spelling errors, missing punctuation, improper sentences, or ALL CAPITALIZATION. Get an editor. Do not write a story and toss it online without even a proofreader checking it over.
2. Have it beta-read.
Your eyes stop working after you’ve worked on the same piece again and again. A beta reader may notice errors in your plot, inconsistencies you’ve overlooked. Tell you whether you’re writing the story clearly enough, overexplaining, data dumping, wordiness, or maybe you’re being too vague in your attempt to create mystery. If there’s anything that can be improved before you decide to release, a round of beta reading can help and potentially save you.
3. Think about the message you are trying to convey. Are you sticking to it? Are you becoming distracted by trying to info dump a massively unnecessary amount of backstory? Write down the point of your story. Write down the major events in the plot. Are you sticking to those major point or are you off with Bob and Sue having a coffee on a nice day, nothing is happening, no conflict, nothing important, they’re just chatting, they’re just dandy. Every scene needs to drive the plot or you will slow down your pacing.
4. Seek out reviewers, ARC readers, beta-readers and potential fans that are a FAN of your genre and familiar with its core structure. Do not submit a fantasy book to a nonfiction fanatic. Do not submit poetry to someone who specializes in horror, or epics, or mystery. Find people that understand and appreciate the genre.
5. Do not rely solely on the opinions of friends and family. Of course it’s amazing honey, you wrote a book! NO. IT IS NOT AMAZING, but it can be. Outside constructive opinions are the best opinions. That being said, there are idiots out there that will tear apart your hardwork without providing constructive criticism, just because they’re a douche. Brutally honest is great for seasoned authors who want to break boundaries and challenge themselves. But as anew writer, I doubt you will be able to stomach what they have to say. Seek out people with a more gentle approach, focusing on targeting your weakness and building your strength.
And don’t forget, write write write. Participate in prompts. People watch and pretend they’re a character in a story. What are they like?
This list will not guarantee a 5-star review, but it will save you from potential disaster. Don’t get that dreaded 2-star review because you were sloppy, get a 2-star review because you actually earned one.
That being said, I believe in all of you. If you apply these basic points to your work and give your 100% then you won’t have to dread that 2-star review.
Just kidding, that feel of dread never goes away! You’re an author now, welcome to writing! Happy anxiety over a sentence in paragraph 3 line 6 of chapter 16, and welcome to sleepless nights because you’re second guessing everything!