Just received my first bad review for my Kindle ebook. Ahh... dedums... how sad
I've done pretty well till now so I'm not complaining but it still hurt and it made me remember the bad old days of receiving rejection slips in the post. A rejection slip is always hard to take but we can tell ourselves that the next submission might be a success.
But what about bad reviews?
Unlike rejection slips bad reviews are there for all to see and they have a tangible effect on the sales of our books. We can't remove them. It's not wise to challenge them. We simply have to accept them and move on.
So how about you? What do you think is worse... a rejection slip or a bad review?
Hope your bad reviews are few and far between
I agree with what has been posted with one exception.
At least with a rejection slip you knew that a true professional had judged your work. They hopefully, gave you a bit of good advice with the rejection regarding your grammar, story line, etc.
A professional would not judge your book just on their own personal taste, as is the case with many customer reviews. A professional would not give you a bad review out of spite or competition. Yet, these customers do hold great power over the sales of our books and that is a sad situation.
In the traditional publishing world, if you are lucky enough to have your book reviewed, it is reviewed by people in the industry; professional reviewers, newspaper staff reviewers, in other words, people who do it for a living and know what to look for in a great book.
Amazon is the only place I know of where the reader gets to review the book and that is because Amazon allows everything it sells to be reviewed by the customer. This is where it gets sticky when it comes to book reviews, because the average customer can only judge the book on his own personal tastes. They don't know how to judge it subjectively as a professional reviewer would.
I'd bet big bucks on the fact that if the initial reviews for many of the NYT best sellers came from customers instead of pros, they would have never made it to the list!
So, in answer to your question. A customer review is worse for our sales, but a rejection with critique helps us become a better writer.
Some of the best professional advice I ever received came with rejection slips. Often, the editors looking at my submissions liked or even loved what they read, but were constrained by the publisher's "current needs," and couldn't accept them. More than a few times, there were some very helpful, encoraging comments written in the margins of those form letters.
As to the other rejections? Water off a duck's back after the first dozen or so. Believe in yourself and what you do, and a form letter is nothing more than a piece of paper. Many great writers have gotten lots of them; some have literally papered their walls with them, or used them as coasters or party favors. Rejection slips can actually be fun!
I will say that those rejection slips come to you in private, whereas, a review is about as public as it gets.
A rejection slip bars your admittance to the party. A bad review (you have spinach in your teeth or your tie is crooked) gives you a chance to go and correct yourself. Or if the person lied about your minor flaw, you can at least invalidate that person and seek comfort from your friends.
Most rejection slips were just standard "sorry not for us" variety. They didn't help, but they did block your book. A bad review hurts your book for a moment. If the reviewer takes the time to point out (hopefully more than minor teensy flaws) and if ones ego is not so huge, the review can help make the book a better book. You can always unpublish/republish to get rid of the negative reviews and show the world a better book. But you can't undo the rejection slip--unless the Editor did invite you back to the party.
A rejection slip means you can't get in front of your customer. You're stopped dead before you even start.
A customer review means you've gotten in front of customers, and some number of them don't like the work or have whatever issues with it. At least they are able to see it and make an opinion. You can make adjustments, you can evaluate their comments and decide if they have value or not, you can take them into account in a future work, whatever.
If you're going to feel personally hurt by every negative thing, you're not going to last. Unless your close relative or friend says you're an idiot to even try, none of this is personal. None of these customers know you or love you. None of these editors or agents want to hurt your feelings. Toughen up.
I agree with you, Andre. Good thing we can bypass the whole submission process if we want. Also, if people are polarized (either love or hate a book) that can be good for business... Twilight is the example. Having crazy-happy fans amidst people that hate your work is worth it
Anne, I don't really value professional critics' opinions above general readers' opinions in this business. Same with movies. Critics can be too clinical.
Keep in mind too, that a publisher is looking at a lot more than if your book is "good". They're looking at if your book is "marketable" to their market. They're trying to decide how your book is going to sell compared to the other books they have in the pipeline, their customer base, the amount of time needed to pull your book together, their schedule, etc. etc. etc.
The customer is just look at whether they enjoyed it or not.
Those are totally different (although both equally valid) measures.
[i]Keep in mind too, that a publisher is looking at a lot more than if your book is "good". They're looking at if your book is "marketable" to their market. They're trying to decide how your book is going to sell compared to the other books they have in the pipeline, their customer base, the amount of time needed to pull your book together, their schedule, etc. etc. etc.[/i]
And this is only if you were lucky enough to find an agent who could get it into the hands of a submissions editor. If you submitted to the slush pile (open submissions), the book went first to an unpaid intern. They mostly just send out rejection form letters. It always amazed me that publishers put the important task of analyzing new books and author abilities into the hands of inexperienced temps. I guess the overwhelming volume of submissions forced their hands somewhat. I saw an estimate once that a major publisher received a hundred thousand unsolicited submissions a years. 99% of the books they published came from their regular authors or books brought to them by agents. Perhaps one or two a year came from the slush pile. That was a pretty big hurdle to overcome.
First; can rejection be a good--even necessary--thing? Does it help build character and determination? Should it not be something that every artist experiences at least once? Or is rejection a vestige of a less enlightened past?
While I would agree that rejection slips are worse than bad reviews in the sense of blocking the writer from his or her potential audience; is there not some value in a professional vetting process? (Don't get me wrong, I am mostly delighted to see the old-line gatekeepers go the way of the dinosaurs, but is it entirely fair to say that they served no useful purpose?)
A rejection slip means either 1) you approached the wrong publisher (or the right publisher at the wrong time), or 2) the book isn't ready yet.
A bad review means that you did everything in your power--wrote your best, had it critiqued, revised the work, had it edited, put the best cover on it, everything you could do... and someone still didn't like it. That would disappoint me more.
I had a book that got rejected by ... 4? 5? publishers. I was so sure it would be a great book! I finally got it published 7 years later by the publisher that gave it its first rejection (they had some editorial turnover...). During those 7 years, I continued to write books for several of the publishers that had turned my baby down. It was just waiting for its proper time (and it's doing very nicely for me now).