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Mark Lindsey of Enplug has written an interesting article with tips on how to respond to negative reviews on social media.

There seem to be two schools of thought when it comes to reviews.

The first is that reviewers need to feel that Amazon is a safe space where they can review without worrying about authors (or companies) becoming aggressive or taking offense. So, it’s best if you don’t respond at all. Let any dialogue happen organically between your readers and avoid interjecting to leave them the space they need to feel free to express themselves.

The second is that it’s best if you respond to reviews right away, as long as you follow some rules. So, be thankful for positive reviews and express your gratitude that the reader took the time to review. As for negative reviews, Enplug’s tips may come in handy.

how to respond to negative book reviews | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's book

1. Understand the Comment

Readers posting negative comments on social media often ramble. It might take you a few minutes to mine the essential grievance. Take some time to find out exactly what your customers are dissatisfied with — because you can’t come up with a resolution until you do.

2. Respond Quickly

Negative comments hanging out there with no response may damage your author brand. The ultimate goal should be to respond fast, as long as you can do so professionally.

3. Never Respond With a Negative Comment

If a comment or review is especially derogatory, it’s only natural for you to want to defend your brand by instinctively adopting the same tone. However, dropping down to a negative level is not going to produce positive results. In fact, it’s only going to make you look insensitive, regardless of whether or not it’s justified.

No matter how you decide to address each issue, keep tact and respect on your radar at all times.

4. Ask Customers What They Want

There’s nothing wrong with coming out and expressly asking dissatisfied clients what they’re after. Since Amazon lets readers return a book they didn’t like, there’s no refund or monetary investment involved — customers just want to air their grievances or frustration. Even so, you can offer a compensation, if appropriate. For example, if a reader is complaining that they didn’t receive the book and left a 1* review as a result (yes, that’s happened), then you can offer to send them a free copy yourself.

5. Don’t Delete Them

This is not possible on Amazon but you may be able to delete negative reviews on other media. However, the last thing you want to do is delete comments or reviews that shine a negative light on your book. Think about it from a consumer’s perspective. If you check out a book page and find 100 comments that are nothing but positive, you might get a little suspicious.

Instead, leave the bad comments there, but be sure to craft stellar responses to all of them. This way your current readers — and any potential new ones — know you’re serious about providing high-quality books.

6. Go Over the Top

If you’re a good writer, you probably don’t get an overwhelming number of negative reviews over social media. Because of that, feel free to overcompensate when you do. For example, if you upload by accident an unedited manuscript and people read it, offer to send a free book to anyone who has bought the wrong copy. Crucially, mention that you did so in your thread and your social media.

If your customers just want to be heard, throw them a modest gift card as a gesture of goodwill. This is a great marketing opportunity for you as it shows you’re willing to do whatever it takes to correct any errors. Mistakes happen. When you do, it’s best to own them and offer to fix them.

Pro Tip

When I was starting out, I got into an argument with a lady on LinkedIn. Nothing too heated; she was just saying that all Indie writers are useless or they’d have got a publishing contract and I was naive enough to argue that wasn’t the case.

A week later, Schism had a 1* review on every single Amazon marketplace from the UK to the US and from Brazil to Japan. The (effectively anonymous) reviewer was complaining about the implausibility of an undiscovered planet in our solar system (my book’s planet, Pearseus, was not in our solar system) and the presence of giants on the new planet (there are no giants in any of my books). So, she must have skimmed enough to determine she hated my Indie-published book and left a vitriolic review.

While I admire her tenacity in publishing on so many channels, this also taught me an important lesson: don’t pick fights online…