I wanted to post this blog today in response to a bad review we had recently received. Did I want to lash out and act just as badly to the person who wrote the review? Yes, I did. In the end though I decided to take a negative and try and turn it into a positive in some way.
Recently I received a bad review regarding our book. It states we were sloppy in the formatting department and also in the punctuation area as well. I have read this bad review over and over until I pretty much know it by heart. First of all, let me say in my own defense, I did put in what I thought was the proper formatting in my paragraphs and indents in the word doc. When I read a book, I do not want to see a big one paragraph chapter. I noticed when I was able to look at the preview that it took out all indents and spacing between my paragraphs. Had I formatted this correctly for e-book? The sad and unfortunate answer is no. It was correct for CreateSpace’s paperback books, but not for e-books.
The review kept bugging me and bugging me. So I started to ask questions. I talked to a friend Raymond Frazee, who has been instrumental in helping me learn some new tricks with Word 2010. There are others on Facebook pages such as MasterKoda and Buggie 4 Books that are very proficient with word 2007 and 2003. I wanted to learn how to do it properly and since I have gotten that bad review I am learning the proper way to put them in so they will stay.I have been informed though that some Kindle and e-book formatters will take out all spacing’s and indents no matter how much you want them in there. I discovered if your Kindle is on your desk top it will more than likely take them out.
One thing I learned is that if someone tells you it was formatted badly, maybe you should find out what you can do to make it better. Ask around in the chat rooms. If you have uploaded it to Kindle Direct Publishing or Smashwords, they have community boards where a lot of answers can be found. Technology is changing all the time and with it we must change too. We must learn the newer ways an adapt. I learned that if you go to paragraph in Word you can set up your paragraphs to have indents on the first line and you can set it up to have spacing between your paragraphs too.
As for the poor punctuation in the first chapter, the only thing I can say about that is this. We have Microsoft office word for this very reason. It helps you catch bad punctuation or lagging sentences. Is it perfect? No. It is much better at catching things of this nature then I am. We still go through it and read it over and over. We hired someone to edit the story also. I feel very confident in the punctuation part in the first 70 some pages. That is where we had to stop with her helping on the editing due to conflicting writing styles. The rest is Microsoft office and what we were able to find and correct between 3 people.
The reviewer also said the book was dull. I think that is a personal opinion and not one I can help her with. I have found books that were exceedingly boring for me to read, while other people raved about them. The book is geared towards Young Adult Fantasy, preferably grades 5th through 8th grade. We have had a lot of good compliments on our book. I like books of this age group as do many other “grown adults.”
You may ask how did I take a bad review and turn it into something positive. I worked on what I could. I learned that there are ways to properly insert indents and spacing for paragraphs. I learned that while this works on most e-book readers, it doesn’t work on all of them. Some will still take out all of your indents and spacing between paragraphs.
So if you get a bad review, as long as there are specifics as to what is wrong such as bad grammar, bad punctuation, no spacing or indents in your paragraphs. Listen to what they are saying. Research and find out if you have done it wrong. Make sure you can back up what you have done with the correct information. These are our books, our babies that we are putting out there for others to judge. Even though it will hurt to have them judged harshly, learn from it and improve it. The nice thing about e-books is they can be changed and updated so they will read better and look nicer.
As for reviewers who have a personal dislike for indie authors. The only thing I can say to that is this. Don’t give them a bad book!