In Defense of Authors Perceived as Behaving Badly – Part 3/3

In conclusion, an author should not argue with a negative reviewer by using the author’s opinions. Instead, the author should use positive reviews from reputable sources to counter the negative review. It is a fact, that some people will write reviews as if his or her opinion is the only one in the world that counts, but that is not true.

It also takes time to gather reputable, credible reviews. It took me four years to gather the credible and positive reviews that I have used to counter some of the negative reviews of my work.

Then after countering a negative review, I suggest that if a reader feels he or she might agree with the negative review, they take advantage of a free sample of the author’s work. For example, Amazon offers a free preview, and I offer free samples on my Websites/Blogs.

In addition, I reply to negative reviewers by saying that he or she has a right to his or her opinion and that a few may agree with that opinion, but there are other reputable opinions that do not agree and then quote from those reputable sources, because these opinions may be used as facts.

After all, they are not the author’s opinions, are they?

Now, how do you earn reviews from reputable and credible sources?

The answer is to write compelling fiction or non-fiction books and to do that, the writer must learn everything there is to know about the craft of writing. There will always be writers that are more talented who write more compelling work that sells more copies, and there will always be writers who write books that cannot compete.

For most of us, the craft of writing must be learned. For example, few, if any, are born with the knowledge and talent to be great wood workers, architects, engineers, inventors or scientists so why should this not be different for the craft of writing?

That’s why it is important to be a literate, life-long learner willing to read how-to books—in addition to reading for pleasure from those writers that have demonstrated what they are doing like Grisham, Hemingway and Paulo Coelho.

Every author, no matter how successful and talented, will have critics and reviewers that will not like his or her work, so get used to it, and disarm the damage they might do by using the opinions of credible sources that may be used as facts to prove that there are readers that enjoy what you write. Don’t use your friends, relatives, a neighbor, anonymous reviewers or paid reviewers or your own opinions to fight this war against negative reviews

As authors, we are not alone when it comes to attracting negative reviews, and I’m going to use a few examples to prove this point:

J. K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Book 1)

  • Of 6,558 reviews on Amazon, ninety-five were one-star and 5,505 were five-star.
  • “I bought this book because everyone finished the entire series and all liked it. seriously I don’t like this book. no originality at all” – Wan
  • “This was the worst book I have ever read in my entire life. I have never read a worst book.” – mom

Harper Lee: To Kill a Mockingbird

  • Of 2,377 reviews on Amazon, eighty-eight were one-star and 1,773 were five-star.
  • “I waited 52 years to read this book. I should have waited 52 more. A real snoozefest. I don’t see what all the fuss is about.” – Nick T. Francone
  • “Pretty darn boring, if it wasn’t required to read in English i would’ve burned it. This type of book isnt for everyone.” – Elizabeth A. Fager

J. R. Tolkien: The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings

  • Of 2,343 reviews for The Lord of the Rings, ninety were one-star and 1,867 were five-star.
  • “It was a piece of crap. This book was one of the worst books i have ever read.
    I read it once and could barely fumble through it. The charaters, as in some books, don’t lack depth, they DROWN in it. there are WAY to many PASSIVE sentinces. I mean, come on, each page is usually about 3/5 discribing the landscape and telling us useless information about what I care about and about 1/5 of the pages are used for ‘character devlopment’. This is good, and what i personally look for in the FIRST chapter, but this is used THROUGHT THE ENTIRE BOOK. I even fell asleep reading it. I mean WOW. …”  – phd_computer
  • “I’ll start by saying that I am a huge fan of Fantasy novels, but this ‘crux’ of Fantasy literature really disappointed me.”This book has a lot of faults. To begin with, it goes against the first basic rule of writing a book: show don’t tell. As you start the novel, it tells everything and nothing has been shown. Tolkein has just narrated almost everything, starting from the history to the setting, and this gives the novel a feeling as if a child has written it.”Secondly, the book is just too slow. I mean you just start the 1st chapter and you doze off after a couple of pages. The pace might have been fine for the 50’s but it’s just too slow for the double Os!”I don’t know why other people liked the plot so much, but I think the plot was really really weak. The causality in the story is almost non-existant and that is what makes the difference between a jumble of short stories joined loosely together and a good novel.

    “Lastly, the characters could have been much developed with more life in them than mere puppets bound to do the author’s bidding. The chracters are much more Archetyped than they should have been.

    “Overall, I think that it has gotten more attention than it deserved, perhaps because of the movies, and that people are liking it because of some trend or the like” – Minhaj Ali Shahid “Ibtehaj”

Did you notice that these three authors had 9,145 five-star reviews to counter the 273 (less than 3% of the total) one-star reviews? Why should the one-star reviews receive more weight than the five-stars?

Return to Part 2 of In Defense of Authors Perceived as Behaving Badly or start with Part 1


Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

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