Friday, November 16, 2012

Bad Reviews - the Downside of Free Promotions

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In August, after I got back the rights to my first book Lady Sarah’s Redemption, I decided to enrol it in the Kindle Select program so that I could play around with the 5 free promotion days allowed me during the 3 months exclusivity I promised Amazon.

Initially the book sold well with mostly 4 star reviews. I was pleased to see it enjoy a new lease of life as it had been first published in hard cover so was an expensive product for a debut author to promote. It was available mostly in libraries in the UK and Commonwealth.

It's by no means my best book as the first half focused on the romance while the second half ramped up the suspense and intrigue. Writing it made me realise I was as much a writer of intrigue and suspense as I was of romance, and I've learned to balance the two more successfully in my subsequent Beverley Eikli and Beverley Oakley books. Here are a couple of the Amazon reviews for Lady Sarah's Redemption.

4.0 out of 5 stars
Intriguing October 19, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
This is quite a historical romance. I would have liked to see some sensual scenes in it, but it is full or action, scandal and quite a tumultuous love story. If you like historical fiction, this is the book for you. I was quite pleased with it.
4.0 out of 5 stars

Keeper November 7, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
The beginning was a little confusing. After I figured out who was who, the story was wonderful with enough suspense to keep me reading to the end. The love story/ romance was clean and wholesome. The ending left you feeling warm and fuzzy.
4.0 out of 5 stars

Rachel Hyde (Myshelf Review) 
I enjoyed this twist on the old gothic novel standby plot of the governess in the mysterious household. This imaginative writer stands a lot of the expected clichés on their heads and treats the reader to something rather different and refreshing. Spoilt Lady Sarah has some lessons to learn, as does man-with-a-past Roland and his "ugly duckling" daughter Caro. There are some surprising turns in this novel and the characters find themselves in rather more peril than might be surmised by reading the above description. The ending is a bit far-fetched in some respects, but don't let that put you off diving into this talented new writer's debut novel. If you think standard Regencies need a bit of shaking up, then this might fit the bill.

I'd written my first romance at the age of 17, so 23 years later when Lady Sarah's Redemption was published the the elation I felt at seeing it in print was overwhelming at the time. I really was like a new mother.

Obviously time and distance mutes these feelings while the thick skin we develop through countless rejections during our unpublished years stands us in good stead if or when we get less than favourable reviews, later.

Bad reviews can sting but they’re inevitable and one can’t afford to be a delicate little petal when confronted with screaming headlines which proclaim our hard work as ‘Dull and Boring’. After checking out my latest Amazon reviews, this was the last thing I read before I closed my computer to go to sleep last night. Rather than drift off thinking about how much someone disliked my book I was more interested in mulling over the curious phenomenon of people who publicly revile a ‘free purchase’ they’d never have bought in the first place.

So, this is by my dissatisfied reader who admits she never got beyond the first few pages; who admits, also, it wasn’t the kind of book she’d pay for, yet somehow feels justified in posting the following review.

1.0 out of 5 stars
Dull and boring November 10, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
If I cannot get interested in a book in the first two or three pages, I don't continue reading in the hopes that the plot will pick up. Such was the case with Lady Sarah's Redemption. From the start the author was overly descriptive with things that didn't really contribute to moving the plot along. The first few pages were so dull and boring, I knew I had no interest at all in finishing this book. Luckily it was free. I would have been very disappointed had I paid for it. There are so many books out there waiting to be sampled/read that I won't waste time on one that doesn't hold my interest from the start. This was a 'Kindle- delete'!
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Readers who indulge in free downloads of books only because they’re free are often the first to denounce them in a public forum.

People who pay money for a kindle download have usually decided it’s worth the price tag on the basis of the first chapter which is provided free.

So while free promotions can be great, first-time authors enrolled in Kindle Select must beware. Not all their readers will write a review with the respect and discernment generally displayed by those who’ve paid for it.


  1. To be honest, Beverley, bad reviews come with the territory of being an author. I've learned over time that people seem to have diametrically opposed opinions on stuff that seems middle of the road to me! I think I have the amount of sex just right - and some readers find it disgustingly detailed and others find it not hot enough. I have to laugh. (after I've cried)
    It's not nice to hear something you've written be called boring but that was based on a few pages and just her opinion. You already have diametrically opposed views to that. The really bad news is if they all say your writing is bad!

  2. You're quite right, Barbara, about diametrically opposed opinions. As readers we're spoiled for choice - which is a great thing! - and just as well there are so many books that cater to our diverse tastes. We don't have to plough through something we find boring (even if other reviews said the opposite). I'm sure plenty of people downloaded my book more because it was free than because the story appealed to them and found they didn't like it. It's had plenty of good reviews elsewhere and I've learned to focus on the good more rather than obsessing over the bad.
    Generally, though, people understand that 'free reads' are there to sample so they can decide if they like that author's style and most are courteous enough to refrain from trashing something they'd never have considered paying money for, (probably half suspecting when they downloaded it that it 'wasn't their thing' anyway).
    It didn't wound me and I didn't take it personally. I think it's more a reflection on the reviewer who would have been perfectly entitled to publishing her review if she'd read more than the two or three pages she admitted was as far as she got.
    Thank you for your comment. It's a topic that's cropping up more with the whole 'free' phenomenon.