Bad reviews are never a nice thing to receive - but I do think there is a way to soften the blow that they deliver.
From what I have seen there are 3 types of bad reviews you can receive (if you have any more, please add them below) and each one requires a different response:
1. Complaints about formatting and grammar - it is terrible when you receive this sort of review as it questions your professionalism as an author. However, it is a problem that can be fixed - you can re-work your manuscript or hire a proofreader and/or someone to format your book and correct these problems.
2. Complaints about the price - with the 'brand authors', you will often see readers leaving one star reviews because the e-book costs more than the print version of the book. But with self-published authors, I have found readers leaving negative reviews because someone has price a short story for $5 - make sure your writing is reasonably priced - and if you are selling shorter fiction make sure you state that it is a short story several times in your Product Description so your reader does not feel like they are being mislead.
3. Complaints about the quality of your writing - this is the toughest of the three as it questions your actual abilities as a writer. To make your self feel better, look up your three favourite novels - I am pretty sure you will find a number disparaging views for these books. Just as an example, I looked up Moby Dick on Amazon UK - I was shocked to see that Melville's masterpiece has 14 1 star and 15 2 star reviews out of 112 reviews.
However, if someone critiques your work rather than just saying, 'This is really crap, I demand a return', it would be foolish not to take their criticism on board and use it to ensure your next book improves.
Of course, there will be times when a negative review mixes all three of the above, but as writers we need to believe in the work we put out and be as thick-skinned as possible (as hard as that can be).
Tell us about the books you currently have available.
I have just “soft” launched my first novel, After the Virus, on Amazon in the Kindle format. After the Virus is an action-filled, post-apocalyptic novel set in modern day North American. The tale is told via alternating viewpoints from Rhiannon, who is stuck in kickass, survivor mode, to Will, who is trying to hide away from the devastation of humanity.
Which character of yours do you most identify with?
Usually the female lead, which in the case of After the Virus, would be Rhainnon.
Tell us about the process of writing your first book/short story? How difficult did you find it?
I actually stumbled into writing a novel as a Twitter exercise. I usually write screenplays and short films. After twittering the story of Rhiannon and Will for a couple of weeks I realized I was writing a novel. Then it became a little daunting, novels are WAY longer than screenplays, but over all it was a great experience, as the writing really flowed.
Please share your favourite paragraph from each of your works.
Hmmm… favourite paragraph, let’s see. How about this one (which is actually a little longer than a paragraph!):
“He closed the tailgate just as he heard the passenger door slam. She buckled up, then sat, clutching her sack and staring straight ahead. He might vomit. He wasn’t sure if it was the fear of hurting her further, or the trust she’d so readily placed in him, that made him ill. He ripped open a box of granola bars and climbed into the truck. He placed the bars on the seat beside him and shifted the truck into gear.
“Might be stale,” he warned, then he ate one anyway.
She reached a tentative hand, caked in dirt and blood, to press play on the stereo. He’d been listening to this on the drive over, but now, the third verse of Paul Simon’s “Call Me Al” hit him in the gut. He finally got it. He clenched his jaw to quell the rising emotion. The girl bobbed her head along with the bass line. He’d never had an epiphany before. In this moment, he chose to become the man he’d always wanted his father to be.
What are you currently working on?
A series of short stories based in the world of After the Virus, a bloody comedy called High School Reunion from Hell, and the 1st book in my Dragon Chronicles series.
Which writers and artists have influenced your work so far?
The complete list would be crazy long, but in short, After the Virus, was written in homage to Margaret Atwood, Stephen King & Robert Kirkman. I am also very influenced by the Coen Brothers, Tarantino, and William Gibson.
What inspires you to write?
Mostly there is just a story in my head and I need to get it onto paper… I love to see how it is all going to play out, but, if I am stuck, listening to music usually cements me back into the story. I make a playlist for each project I am working on.
How often do you write?
Usually every day, if I am lucky.
If you could take three books with you on to a desert island - which ones would you choose and why?
Can’t I just take my ereader and every digital book I own?? Well, I guess the battery would eventually run out… this is a really difficult question… I suppose I should say The Bible, The Illiad and Paradise Lost or The Canterbury Tales, just to sound like a writer probably should sound, but honestly I haven’t read those in years and then I only read them once! How about The Stand, Gone with the Wind, and Pattern Recognition?
From your experiences so far, what would be your best piece of advice for aspiring indie authors?
Write, write and write more. Don’t edit yourself on your first pass. Then get feedback from a lot of different people. Temper this feedback with your vision for the story. Rewrite, then rewrite again. Make sure you have a clear beginning, middle and end. Believe.
Bio: Meghan Ciana Doidge is an award-winning independent filmmaker based out of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. She has a penchant for bloody love stories, superheroes, and the supernatural. She also has a bit of a thing for chocolate, potatoes, and sock yarn.
AFTER THE VIRUS is Meghan’s first novel.
You can connect with her on: her personal blog, www.madebymeghan.ca
…as well as all the usual social media suspects.
Amazon Kindle link: http://amzn.to/m8XXkj
Free sample chapters: http://wp.me/P1B9jn-b
1. I have written around 18,000 words of a skeleton draft of the first book of a science fiction trilogy I am writing.
2. I have put down 1,500 words of a crime short story set in London that introduces a team of crime-fighters that will becoming an ongoing series involving short stories, novellas and novels.
3. I have sketched an outline for three political essays I have been working on for the last year or so.
The great thing about e-publishing is that I get to set my own deadlines and can be as prolific as I want. The downside, though, is that this means I need to try and shift my mentality and try and write on a far more regular basis.
Therefore I am setting myself the challenge of writing 1,000 words a day for the month of June. I am choosing to blog about it for two reasons:
1. By blogging about it rather than just making a note about this plan in a diary, there is a greater degree of accountability that will motivate to meet this target.
2. By writing weekly about my attempts to match this goal, it will inspire other writers to do similar things. We are in the midst of some unprecedented upheavals that are taking place in the publishing industry. I suspect that prolific writers who are able to sustain a high quality of writing will be able to do very well for themselves over the coming decade.
Disclaimer: I am in no way suggesting that simply by churning out X amount of words a day I am guaranteed to end up with consistently great writing. But I would rather be in a situation at the end of the month where I keep 10,000 of 30,000 words than writing a few thousands words that I do relatively little with (which is the case for this month).
I will also try to blog more regularly and will definitely put up a weekly post to let you know how I progress with this challenge.