Good Advice For Bad Reviews

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If I'm feeling a bit too confident and need an instant dose of humility, I read some bad reviews about my latest book Midlife Cabernet. This self-inflicted pain is sure to temporarily destroy my positive attitude and slaughter the pretentious belief that I am a writer. To prevent myself from trading my computer for a clown costume and running away to join the circus, I've discovered a convenient technique to overcome the humiliation: Spy on the reviewers.

My book has almost 700 reviews on Amazon.com and Goodreads, and 78 percent of them are positive. But, I can't resist peeking at the negative comments. For example, a few months ago Donna gave the book a 1-Star rating out of 5 stars. Here is her review:

"Stunk"

I couldn't glean any helpful suggestions from this nasty comment, nor did I determine how to please Donna. I investigated her other reviews and noticed she had written only eight comments and had given three 1-star ratings. I decided that Donna is too high-maintenance and doesn't deserve my sparkling humor.

McNay, a prolific reviewer, also gave the book a 1-star rating and wrote that she returned it for credit because she couldn't finish reading it. I inspected her biography and noted that she gave 5-star ratings to a digital meat thermometer and a cuticle clipper she had ordered from Amazon.com. I can't compete with those products.

Ronald Seiberton wrote a terse comment about the book:

"Not that funny"

I discovered that he had written a grand total of three reviews and had given five stars to a book about the Dalai Lama. I have to wonder why he even purchased a copy of Midlife Cabernet.

A reviewer named Cocoa's Mama gave the book a 2-star rating and wrote, "This book did have it's humorous moments, but all the five star reviews have me baffled. This book was not at all well written." I smugly noticed that her review wasn't well-written either and contained at least three grammatical errors. But, she did give a 5-star review to a reversible puffy vest for dogs.

The reviews on Goodreads were also humbling. Maureen gave the book 1-star rating and wrote:

"I couldn't force myself to finish this book. It is full of insipid one-liners which are fine for 10 minutes."

Maureen, please admit I amused you for 10 minutes. That's all I need. I also noted that Maureen gave a 3-star rating to George Orwell's 1984. So, I've got that going for me.

Rhonda LeRay gave the book a 1-star rating, but I noticed she read and liked a book titled, 101 Things to Do with Popcorn. I don't want Rhonda to like my book.

I began to whimper as I read through more bad reviews. Sheri Slomnick gave it 2 stars and wrote that she was in her 30s and didn't find the book as funny as advertised. Sheri, sweetheart, the subtitle is Life, Love, & Laughter after 50. Read it again in 20 years and write a better comment.

Finally, a man named Guy gave the book another 1-star ranking. His profile notes that he is a corporate director, merchant banker, and strategic advisor. Perhaps a book titled Midlife Cabernet shouldn't be included on his must-read list.

I don't think reviewers realize how devastating a 1-star rating can hurt sales (and feelings). Was it really that bad? Have they ever written anything beyond a few lines of criticism? There's only one action to do after wallowing through the condemning, vicious comments. Meekly return to the 5-star reviews and find reasons to live. I linger on this one:

"This book was one of the most funny, endearing books I've read."

The quote is from my friend, but that doesn't matter. I believe in my heart that she is correct.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

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