REVIEW: How Do You Deal With Negative Reviews?

Can You ‘Deal’ With Negative Reviews?

I don’t ‘deal’ with negative reviews, since there’s nothing to deal with. A negative review is the opinion of a reader, intended to express their feelings about your work to other readers (not, I repeat, not to you, the author, because that is what ‘feedback’ is for). By the way, I make a distinction between a negative review (where the reviewer criticizes the book) and a bad review (where the reviewer criticizes the author).

I read all the reviews I can find. Not because I like to flagellate myself, but I’m interested in the opinions of my readers, even if they don’t contact me directly. Sometimes you can glean information that might help you avoid a scathing review in the future. File that nugget and go on your way.

The one thing you should never, ever do, is try to convince the reviewer that they are erroneous in their opinion. That has about 0.001% of actually succeeding.

You write a book, but you publish a product. If the product is good, then the ratio of negative to positive reviews will be low. If it sucks, the majority of your reviews will suck. You control the product, not the opinion. If you cannot live with the negative reviews, pull the product.

Personally, I don’t want to give a negative reviewer extra power by becoming upset. Reviews are like the weather, you don’t know what you’re going to get. It’s more useful to carry an umbrella than to become angry at the sky for the rain.

There is no book that receives 100% positive reviews. And that is good. Because a book that pleases everyone is probably not worth reading.

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Beta-Reading “In Pocket”?

I finished In Pocket, my stand alone novel. And now I’m looking for beta readers who ‘d like to help me improve the book.

What I’m looking for:
Beta reading means reading the beta [unedited] manuscript version and providing feedback to help me improve the manuscript before it gets published. When I’m done with writing, editing and polishing something I deem publishable, the beta-readers can tear my work apart and provide feedback. I will read the feedback and implement the necessary changes before publication.

Do I need to be a professional proofreader or editor?
Anyone who wishes to help me with this, please send me an email. Don’t worry about not being an editor or proofreader, what I require most is ‘emotional feedback’, i.e. what is your response to a scene—like/dislike, laugh, cry, vomit, anger, fear. I’m particularly interested in scenes people want to skip, because those are parts that I might want to edit out of the manuscript. And, of course, alerting me to any typo or omission will be most welcome. Also, while I enjoy feedback from fellow writers, you don’t need to be a writer to be a beta reader.

Shouldn’t I read your other books first?
Well, you’re welcome to read my other books, but In Pocket is a stand-alone novel. And although there are some ties to the Amsterdam Assassin Series, it’s not part of the series.

How much time do I have to read the manuscript and provide feedback?
After I send out the manuscript, which is about 58,000 words or 230 pages, I’d figure it would take about three weeks maximum to read the book and provide insightful feedback. *grin*

Will my feedback always be used?
Depends on the feedback. If you spot a typo, omission or error, it will be corrected (of course), but emotional responses differ from one individual to the next. Taste and cultural background colour the response, and while I aim to please, I have no illusions I will please everyone. So a scene that draws a yawn from one reader will probably remain unchanged, but if the whole audience starts yawning the scene has to be changed or even removed.

What kind of novel is In Pocket?
The genre is suspense. In Pocket is about a young heroin-addicted pickpocket who lives in an old delivery van, getting pulled into a possibly fatal scheme by a femme fatale. You can find the intro here. This is the pitch:

If only Wolfgang hadn’t picked the pocket of the fat woman…

Nomadic pickpocket Wolfgang gets blackmailed into teaching his craft to the mysterious Lilith, a young woman with no aptitude whatsoever to become a pickpocket. Wolf figures the easiest way is to go with the flow and instruct Lilith in the art of emptying other people’s pockets, but even he could never foresee the dreadful things that follow…

IN POCKET is a standalone novel by Martyn V. Halm, the author of the Amsterdam Assassin Series. Follow Wolf as he gets entangled in a possibly fatal web of violence and deceit, where nobody is who they seem to be and everyone has a hidden agenda.

The setting of the story is Amsterdam, but might show a different side of the city than most readers would expect, since the author actually lives in Amsterdam.

What do I get out of it?
Well, first of all, you get to read In Pocket before the general public and help an author with the publication process. You get to contribute to the shaping of a novel, and you’ll know the full content, instead of the edited content that will be published. (If you don’t know what I mean, compare the first version of Stephen King’s The Stand, and the unabridged version he published later). Your name will be included in the acknowledgements in the published version, which you will also receive.

Do I need an e-reader?
I only publish in digital e-book format, so you can receive the file in either Word, PDF, .epub or .mobi. So, I think an e-reader would be handy, but a computer would be mandatory.

I’m game, where do I sign up for this?
Send me an email at, put ‘Beta Reader In Pocket’ in the subject line, and motivate your request to be beta reader with candid pictures or a list of your specialties. First twenty applicants get a spot on the list.

FAQ: Permafree on Amazon?

One of the great mysteries for beginning writers is how to get books up on Amazon permanently free, or ‘permafree’, because when you publish your book through KDP, you will get a notice that you have to put a price of 0.99 USD or higher on your book.

So, how do you get your books permafree on Amazon?

I have two permafree short stories on Amazon, iTunes, and Kobo, as ‘loss-leaders’ for my Amsterdam Assassin Series.



Here’s how I did it:

To get something to go permafree on Amazon, publish it at USD 0.00 on Kobo and iTunes, publish your book for 99 cents on Amazon and go to your book page. Under the Product Details, you find:

Would you like to give feedback on images or tell us about a lower price?

Click that link and provide the URL to the free book on iTunes/Kobo and the list price (0.00 USD). It helps if people other than the author report the lower price. If you’re a member of KindleBoards, they have a thread where you can post your book and report other people’s books, while they report your books.

That’s how I got Locked Room and Microchip Murder permafree on Amazon.

(If this message was helpful to you, I’d appreciate it if you show your support by downloading my free books)