Monday, February 08, 2010

Amazon Reviews… and Mothers-in-Law

Guest post today from an awesome author and animal lover!

So please welcome Mayra!

Amazon Reviews… and Mothers-in-Law

By Mayra Calvani

You’ve published your book. You’ve sent it to many review sites and begun collecting rave quotes for promotional use. You check Amazon regularly to see whether any readers have written anything about your book. They have! Wonderful. The comments are positive. You keep checking almost everyday until—what’s this?!—suddenly you find a HORRIBLE review at the top of the list.

You’re aghast. Your face flushes as if a subterranean volcano exploded inside of you. How dare anybody say anything negative about your masterpiece creation? What an atrocity. This is sabotage!

After a few glasses of wine, you tell yourself you’re a reasonable person. You realize chances are not everybody can love your book.

But there are negative reviews and there are negative reviews… and this is book annihilation! This particular review seems to have been written by someone who not necessarily hates the book, but hates YOU.

This happened to a friend of mine recently. A few days after her book came out in Amazon, someone wrote a mean, nasty review.

The review in question was something along these lines: “This is the WORST book I’ve ever read in my entire life. It is filled with thousands of spelling, grammatical mistakes and clichés. Please don’t waste your book on this book. You’ll regret it for as long as you live…” etc, etc, etc… The review went on and on, its author clearly deranged or driven by sweet revenge.

Not surprisingly, my friend later found out that it had been written by her dear mother-in-law in reaction to how my friend depicted her in the novel (Lesson: DO NOT use your mother-in-law as one of your characters).

I know the lady in question, and while I think it’s true that she has “sagging cheeks like day-old pancakes” and clammy hands like “large wobbly maggots,” as my friend wrote in her novel, I believe she shouldn’t have gone so berserk. I mean, there’s something to be said for self control, right?

If any of you is the victim of such atrocity, there’s something you can do about it. Remember that Amazon wants you to sell your book almost as much as you do (they should—they take 55% off the retail price!), so all you have to do is contact them and explain them the situation. Most likely they’ll remove the review. Email them at:

But pleeeeeease don’t contact them for negative reviews that were clearly written by serious readers or reviewers, otherwise they’ll think we authors are egotistical maniacs who break at the slightest lashing … and we wouldn’t want that now, would we? (it’s important to keep our true nature low profiled).

Happy Valentine’s (good time to send candy to that mother in law of yours...)!

Mayra Calvani writes, reviews, procrastinates, daydreams, plays the violin (awfully!) and is hopelessly addicted to reading. Visit her blog at Mayra’s Secret Bookcase


  1. Good point! No bad descriptions of family members! :)

    I think it's important to never respond to a negative review...never to comment back and try to defend our book or writing--just makes us look bad.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  2. Thanks for having me on your blog today, Diane!

  3. I can't help but laugh. Not at the bad review, but at the fact that the mother-in-law recognized herself.

    I think a reviewer has a responsibility to be reasonable about a book. If you don't like it, you can say so in a professional, nice manner and explain why you don't like it. The next reader may love it. As a reviewer you have to include that fact.

    I do hope your friend got even though. :)

  4. I hope she gets the review taken down. I agree, though, that you mustn't try to get every negative review taken down.

    Straight From Hel

  5. This made me laugh, although I'm sure it wasn't funny at the time. A good lesson, though.

  6. What a funny story and a great reminder to make sure if you use a real life character in a novel that they cannot recognize themselves.

  7. Happy to have you today, Mayra!

  8. Wow...this sounds like it was a most unfortunate incident! I guess that I also would try to change the characters enough to where people would not recognize themselves...yikes!

  9. Good Points Mayra. Certainly don't go on Amazon and make a big federal case out of a negative review. I'm thinking of one recently that grabbed chat around the internet for over a week and involved some snipping at a big name author. Sheesh.

    It's good to know if someone who has a personal axe to grind with you, writes an attack review, Amazon will remove it.

    Thanks Diane, for introducing Mayra to us. Have a great day!

  10. Ouch. That review got ugly in a hurry, huh? Never had one that bad--yet. But, my approach is like Elizabeth Craig's, I just try to look the other way and hope readers pay attention to the 95 percent that are good.

    Best Wishes Galen.
    Imagineering Fiction Blog

  11. Wow - glad all of the folks in my book are truly fictional!! :)

  12. Great advice! I'm going to send this post to a friend of mine who recently got a poor review as well. Thanks!

  13. Wow, remind me not to piss anyone off, even by accident!

  14. I think most people ignore really bad reviews, especially if there are good ones. If I see a negative review that that rambles on I will not read it.

    Stephen Tremp

  15. Some food for the thought: If you've never gotten a bad review, maybe not enough people are reading your book!

    Thanks for all the comments!

  16. Remind self: Don't include relatives in your story. Thanks, Mayra, for the tip.


  17. Good to know for future reference.