My Pre-order Nightmare
I had a nightmare last night that my book was on pre-order and some woman had the audacity to leave a review without reading it. She thought I was the penname of an author she didn’t like and that my story was generic. I thought she would expose my real name, but the author she compared me to was a guy.
I wanted to respond and tell her I was not that guy. I’d never even heard of that guy. If I were him, she should keep her mouth closed. Authors have a right to remain anonymous.
This was the first review for my book. Not off to a good start. I decided not to respond.
Here’s a few things you should keep in mind.
Can People Review Pre-orders?
People can’t leave pre-order reviews on Amazon. This sucks when you have arc reviewers lined up, but it’s great for keeping away the people who review books they haven’t read. Sure, they can review the book once it’s published, but maybe theirs won’t be the only review by then.
Reviewers can review books early on Goodreads and other sites. Sometimes author create a print version and release it early to get reviews on their e-book while it’s on pre-order. There’s no way to completely avoid an inaccurate review.
What’s An Inaccurate Review?
Yes, there is such a thing. Please note: inaccurate reviews are not the same as hate it or didn’t “get” it reviews. You’re an author. If you don’t want those criticisms, I suggest trying to learn from them and write better books.
Placeholder Reviews: This is where a reader reviews a book before they’ve read it. They do this to either talk about their excitement or to be one of the first reviewers. By being first, their review will have priority when the book is released. Generally, they will give the book a neutral 3 star rating.
Enemy/Revenge Reviews: Ah, the one star based on the premise or the author. Some people will read your blurb and give the book a one star if they aren’t interested. This makes them look like they’re a prolific reviewer. There are also reviewers who will give your book the lowest rating because they don’t like you or they hated your last book.
SJW Reviews: This occur when someone reviews a book based on other reviews that say the book is anti-xyz or problematic. My opinion: don’t make accusations unless you’ve read the book.
There have been quite a few books canceled for this. In many cases, the original reviewer missed key details that would debunk their entire argument. “Carve the Mark” is a good example. It got a ton of backlash for being racist because the poc society was brutish and the white society was more civil. This is a problematic trope that has been seen throughout history. However, it was not in “Carve the Mark”. The reviewer somehow missed that both of the societies had mixed races and, though some may have appeared white, members of their biological family were various skin tones.
Most recently, a book got delayed because reviewers were angry than an Asian woman wrote about slavery in Asia and not United States slavery. They claimed that because she was now an American, she was erasing the atrocities toward Black people.
I could go on.
Inaccurate Reviews: All of the above are forms of inaccurate reviews, but we‘re going to use this one as an umbrella term. Inaccurate reviews are reviews given when the reader has not read the book, read the book wrong, or deliberately misrepresented the book.
Can You Read A Book Wrong?
This is a bit two-fold. We all have our own worldviews and perspectives that change how we interpret a book. A person’s reading experience is unique to them, and there take on/feeling about your book can’t be wrong or inaccurate. They just saw it through a different lense. If you wanted to get a point across but failed, that’s on you. However, a readers background can lead to them missing the nuance or the point of your book. There’s also the matter of intended audience.
If they review your book poorly because your characters use southern accents and they don’t like accents, your book isn’t flawed. They just didn’t like it. That is subjective criticism. Reviewers aren’t required to only be objective.
However, I would advise that reviewers consider their own biases when reviewing books and be very clear on what is subjective criticism verses objective criticism. In doing so, they can express their opinion without dismissing the nuances of the cultures or communities you highlighted in your book..
What Can Be Done About Inaccurate Review?
Unless the review is a blatant enemy/revenge review, there’s nothing you can do. Cross your fingers and hope more of your intended audience reviews it positively. If you can prove it’s an enemy/revenge review, try to have it removed by reporting it.
If it’s on Goodreads and you never gave them a copy but the reviewer spreads false information, Goodreads should remove it. I wouldn’t worry about placeholder reviews. They will adjust the rating once they’ve read the book. It shows their confidence in you. Sometimes placeholder reviews are five stars. Either way, a reader can usually separate a placeholder reviewer from a real one.
On Amazon, they will only remove it if the reviewer personally attacks you or complains about something irrelevant to the content of the book, like how shipping took too long. That’d be a seller reviewer, not a product review.
What Are Best Practices When Dealing With These Reviewers?
DO NOT comment on or share their negative review. If it’s inaccurate, vent to a friend, but don’t make it public. If you engage, you’ll discourage readers from leaving reviews and you’ll encourage trolls. It sucks, but report when necessary and move on.
If this is difficult for you, enlist a friend to read positive reviews to you and only share constructive criticism from the negative reviews.