I recently found out that Amazon has the power to remove whatever reviews they want. Their reason…any reviews that can be considered biased, will be nixed. So, this pretty much sucks, when friends and family support your work and want to help you out by reviewing your book, only to find out that because of their close relationship to you, the review is null and void. I understand it, to a point, because apparently, it can skew a potential reader’s decision on whether to purchase a book or not. This is a recent policy because the reviews on my debut novel, Behind the Mask (2014), haven’t been removed and one of them has the same last name as me. Just saying!
Anyway, I’m glad I’m now aware of this little nugget because though positive reviews are great to receive, I also want them to appear genuine. And certainly, don’t want them to come across as false. Even though I know they are legit, some may not believe that.
This brings me to another area of reviews, an extremely ugly dark side. One that I knew existed but honestly avoided. Maybe I subconsciously chose not to read reviews for fear of what I’d see, but when I happened to notice the sudden removal of reviews for my latest book, Unmasked, that’s when I spotted a truly mean-spirited review (dated from April 2016 – Kindle Edition) of Behind the Mask This particular review was beyond scathing and this person did not hold back. And I’ve always said, can’t please everyone and I still stand by that. Plus, I’m the first to admit, my debut novel was filled with typos, grammatical errors, and the writing wasn’t the best, not by a long shot. But what it was…was something I was passionate about and put my heart and soul into for many years. I know a good editor would have done wonders for it, I’m not naïve or stupid, but editors are costly, so I opted against it. Probably not the wisest of choices. And for me to put myself out there was HUGE, and for those that know me, I’ve never been one to seek the limelight or be center of attention, so just allowing others to read my work was a big accomplishment. And I knew I had to grow a thick skin, that people were going to be critical and I had to learn to take it. I’m open to constructive criticism. Pointing out mistakes in a tactful way is fine and welcomed. Being bitter and doing it in a harsh manner, comes across like a personal attack, especially when it’s someone’s debut novel, that he/she self-published. It’s a learning process. I’m sorry that person had such an awful experience reading my novel; I never thought I’d provoke that much negativity and be cut down to the core like that. Hating a story is one thing, loathing the writing itself took it to a whole other level.
That said, it did make me go back and do the one thing I hadn’t done in a while—read through the entire book of Behind the Mask. The mistakes are glaring, and stick out like a sore thumb. It’s like reading the good, the bad, and the ugly all rolled up into one. Not making excuses, well maybe I am, but this was my first attempt at writing a novel, so I guess it could have been worse. Regardless, I’ve decided to clean it up, which is something I should have done sooner, but after I read it over so many times back in 2014, that I most likely began to skip over all the mistakes. It’s easier to do than one might think, which is why an editor is definitely needed.
So, in closing. For those, who have copies of the original Behind the Mask, whether paperback or Kindle edition, I thank you very much for reading through the mistake-plagued version and for all the positive feedback. When I’m finished revising (no story changes, just a more polished version with fewer mistakes) I’m going to submit it on Amazon. Kindle owners may or may not get an update that the book has been revised. I’ll make an announcement when I’ve done it, just in case.
Lesson learned #5,789 – don’t read reviews 🙂