How I Almost Let a Bad Review Derail My Career
In November 2015, I published my first novel, “The Stolen Twin.”
And in launching that book, I did pretty much everything completely wrong.
I’ll detail all my book marketing mistakes in another post, but today, I want to share how I very nearly pulled the plug on my fiction writing career, right at the cusp of it getting started.
It all began when I decided to purchase a review through Kirkus Reviews.
If you haven’t heard of Kirkus Reviews, it’s a very old magazine that features book reviews. It also hands out literary awards. In their current form, you can purchase an honest review to use in your marketing efforts (“honest” in that just because you buy it, doesn’t mean it’s going to be positive).
So, I decided to do just that. I’ll admit, the decision was a bit ego-based. The idea of having a positive Kirkus Review made me giddy with excitement.
And I truly didn’t believe the review would be anything other than positive.
Also, I was planning to launch my novel in mid-December to my email subscriber list and Facebook community, and I thought having this review would be icing on the cake.
I got my review back right before the book launch.
The reviewer hated it.
I read it and burst into tears. My hubby walked in and tried to console me, saying it couldn’t possibly be that bad.
I pushed my computer over for him to read it.
He read it, then looked at me and said, “Well, you’re right. They hated it.”
I started crying harder.
I was mortified. I wanted to cancel my launch. I wanted to hide under my bed. I even seriously considered unpublishing my novel.
I mean, Kirkus SAID its reviews were meant to be a good gauge of how a book would do in the marketplace. The reviewer hated it, so therefore the book would never go anywhere.
Luckily, my friends wouldn’t hear of me cancelling anything, so I forged ahead—not only with my initial launch, but also in continually marketing it over the past couple of years.
That little book has kept chugging along, despite the fact I did everything wrong when I launched it, and despite Kirkus.
I got it on Book Bub the following summer (which is VERY difficult to do). At one point, it sold so many copies in one day that I got it to #24 OVERALL on Kindle paid books AND #1 on Teen and Young Adults (we’re talking about thousands of books over a couple of days’ time).
And last month (March 2018), Amazon invited me to have it featured in its Prime program. I accepted, and it’s now in the process of climbing the charts again (currently #5 in Mystery/Suspense in Prime and #2500 overall in sales rank—all without any additional marketing from me).
It also has 187 reviews with a 4.1 average.
Does it have flaws? Absolutely. I definitely have seen things I would do differently now.
BUT, if I had listened to the “experts” and thrown in the towel on that book, look what I would have missed.I was THIS close to letting one bad review derail my entire author career. Click To Tweet
Looking back now at this experience, I’m actually glad it happened exactly as it did. Bad reviews no longer bother me, and I don’t know if I would have reached this point without getting that dreadful review.
I know how painful bad reviews can be, and I also suspect bad reviews (or the threat of a bad review) stops authors from truly getting their work out there in a bigger way.
But, here’s the truth. Bad reviews don’t stop you. You stops you.
A bad review (or even a bunch of bad reviews) doesn’t mean a book won’t make you money. It doesn’t mean anything other than the person who wrote the review decided to give you a bad review.
It doesn’t have to stop you unless you let it.