(You’ll see why …)
A couple of weeks ago, my bride received a one-star review on Amazon for both of her historical fantasy books and her short story. This wasn’t the end of the world for a couple of reasons: first, she had far more four- and five-star reviews, and secondly, it means that the books are getting some reach beyond her regular circles.
What was a little unfortunate, though, was that the reviewer said that she had read only small part of the stories before giving up. Some she hadn’t even read at all.
But they all received one-star reviews — not because she thought my wife’s writing was poor (it’s not) but solely because the type of fiction my wife writes didn’t appeal to her. Mixing Civil War historical fiction, romance, and fantasy isn’t everyone’s cup of tea; nor should it be. But there the critical reviews were — and the returns debited her royalty account.
Unsatisfied customers are bad for everyone
What should have happened is that the customer should have taken advantage of the free preview of the books that my wife allows people to read before they buy them. In a regular bookstore, this is called browsing. (Unfortunately, it’s also called pretending it’s a library which has hurt them.)
The best part is this: If the customer isn’t impressed with the first part of the book, then they don’t buy it! What a novel idea! (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)
This works out for everyone. The potential buyer doesn’t waste any more time, isn’t ticked off, and doesn’t need to go through the trouble of returning the item. The author is none the wiser and there’s no extra stress. Amazon keeps all of the goodwill of both parties.
A happy ending … awwwwwwww …
Books are best with happy endings, and thankfully this post has one, too. I responded to one of the customer’s 1-star reviews. I don’t have the original text, but it went something like this. (Names have been changed to protect the innocent.)
Hello Ms. Amazon Woman,
(Full disclosure: I’m husband to the author.)
First off, thank you for giving V.V.’s books a try, and for taking the time to share your thoughts about them.
You’re not the first person who’s been surprised by the way she’s integrated elements of fantasy into the historical fiction genre. Based on this feedback — and fully admitting that this kind of cross-pollination isn’t for everyone — she’s categorized her books as historical fantasy, and made notes to this effect in the description. She’s hoped that this will let people know that there might be supernatural elements, talking horses, etc.
Also, I wanted to take this opportunity to make sure that you were aware of the free sample that many authors make available on the sales page. V.V. offers a taste of her writing well into Chapter 3, so it’s quite plausible that you may have decided not to buy her book based on that sampling. (And that’s fine! How boring it would be if we all liked the same things!)
So, in the future, I invite you to peruse the books you’re looking to buy, just as if you were in a bookstore. If you like what you see, great! You can download it to your Kindle and continue right where you left off. If you don’t, that’s fine too, and no one’s the wiser. The best part, though, is that everyone involved — you, the author, and Amazon.com — are spared the inconvenience, disappointment, and cost of a return from an unhappy customer.
And less than a day later, she had removed all three of the 1-star reviews.
As an added bonus, Amazon now is giving me some great book recommendations: