Today I had my first taste of dealing with a bad review.
It all started this morning as I lay awake looking through my phone. I decided to check Amazon to see how my books were doing when I noticed someone had left another review of my book The Book of Silly Rhymes.
I excitedly swiped down to find it eager to read what they had thought of my book but that excitement was short-lived. My stomach dropped as I saw the 1 out of 5 stars on the review. As I read the full review I felt sick and wanted to cry, it was not good.
I quickly put my phone away fought back the urge to cry into my pillow and tried to get on with my day but however much I tried it was in the back of my mind. The thought that someone hated my book made me worry and panic that it was bad and that everyone would too.
Thankfully the week before the same children’s book ‘The Book of Silly Rhymes’ had won an award. I know it was read and judged by at least 15 people and beat loads of other books to win silver so I had to remind myself that I know for a fact that not everyone dislikes it.
That made me start to think that I can’t hide away from it and shouldn’t just sweep it under the carpet. As much as I hate to say it, critics are just as important as the glowing reviews (which thankfully I have far more of the glowing ones).
So I built up my courage and re-read the review a few times analysing it to see if there was anything I could take and learn from it.
The one star review read –
“Don’t believe the other reviews.
Cheap and simple rhymes in a book that looks and feels like it was made in 1989, not 2019. Despite the font supposed to be aimed at children with dyslexia (a positive thing about the book hence the star), there are way too many rhymes that are about disliking school (school is boring), demeaning people/making fun of teachers (Mrs Balderdash), parents being disfunctional (mum’s had too much wine) and the remainder is basically just about poo or farts.
The rhymes themselves are simple and basic with very little humour found in word play that you could expect a preteen girl to write in the back of a school notebook. Perhaps this is the target audience but nobody should pay 50p for this in a charity shop, let alone over £5. Go spend your money on done roald dahl, Julia Donaldson or Michael Rosen instead. “
As you can see it is quite long and I had a lot of points to get through and analyse but in fact the more I read it the more it didn’t bother me anymore. This book is full of rude rhymes that are short and it clearly states this in the Amazon description. I know this book is not for everyone, but it is made clear the rhymes are a bit rude so anyone who doesn’t like this sort of thing can be warned not to buy my book.
The Amazon description for The Book of Silly Rhymes –
“Do you chuckle, chortle or cackle? Are you more likely to smirk secretly, sneak out a snigger, or would you prefer to belt out a big belly laugh? Do you howl like a monkey, roar like a lion or snort like a pig?
However you get the giggles, this hilarious collection of rude, ridiculous and rambunctious rhymes is sure to tickle your funny bone!
The Book of Silly Rhymes is a collection of poems written to amuse and delight children in equal measure. Each rhyme is short, and can be read quickly and in any order with the aim of appealing to reluctant readers. The text has been printed in a font designed to be easily read by those with dyslexia. “
Dealing with the bad review
I don’t really even understand the bit about 1989 and the book being cheap. I think my publisher has done a wonderful job of producing a great book and the illustrator to produce colourful fun illustrations. When Amazon first bought copies and put it up for sale they had it on higher than the RRP of £5.99 for ages, so they obviously thought it was worth more.
I 100% agree that they are simple rhymes as I have always claimed and have put in the Amazon description. This book is designed for reluctant readers and if you have ever been a reluctant reader or have children who are, then you will know how hard it is to get them to read. Having a book that is full of short silly rhymes that they can read with ease and dip in and out of the book is a great way to inspire reluctant readers.
Yes, there are all those rhymes in the book which are a bit rude and yes not to everyone’s taste I completely get that and accept this comment. Most children I know love to laugh over poo and fart jokes. You could compare my rhymes to Marmite, you either love them or hate them.
The rhymes are simple I agree but then again this is mentioned in the description but the book is also filled with 37 of them that I have put a lot of time and effort into writing. I believe they are funny and I have been told by a lot of others they are funny so I guess I will just have to leave this down to personal opinion and have knowledge that everyone sees humour differently.
I am a bit older than a preteen girl but I did write them in the back of my notebook to start with so there is some truth in that. There are a lot of talented pre-teens out there who can write amazing poems so I don’t take this as the insult I feel it was intended to be.
I do believe the book is worth more than 50p and I didn’t set the price myself my publisher did after lots of research and knowledge of the market. As I said before Amazon was selling it for £6.99 for a long time after it was released so they even believed it was worth more.
I agree, Julia Donaldson, Roald Dahl and Michael Rosen are some of the best children’s writers ever. I am not even going to try and justify this and put myself in the same league as them. In fact, a lot of people do spend their money on their books and not mine that’s why they sell millions of more copies of their books than I do. Hopefully one day I will be in the same league but I understand anyone who would buy their books over mine.
The Book of Silly Rhymes is intended for a different type of audience than most books. It is aimed at children who are reluctant to read that need to start with something a bit simpler. The rhymes are funny and a bit rude to help keep them engaged and bring some humour to reading time.
I do welcome criticism and the only way I will ever learn and better myself is from hearing it and taking it on board. The reason I have written this post is not to discredit the bad review or the person’s opinion but to make clear what The Book of Silly Rhymes is about and who it is intended for so people looking to buy my book know what is in it and can decide if it is a book for them or not. It was not intended for the masses and I always knew it would not be welcomed by everyone. It was written especially for a certain audience and as I have heard from other reviews my intended audience enjoy my book.
I also rave and love to share with everyone the good reviews and positive feedback that I get from my books so if I hide away the bad ones I would feel a bit of a Hippocratic. I want people to see both sides and make their own choices on whether to buy my books.
When I first read this comment I wanted to hide away and never write again but after sitting down and reading it more closely I am now inspired to write more starting with this post and then I will be getting out my notebook to start writing children’s stories again.
I have been so busy lately but with the time we have all been given with lockdown I have no excuse and plenty of time to get on with it.
My other book Pete The Cheeky Parakeet is written for a completely different audience and in a different style so I know I am capable of adapting my style to suit the intended audience the same as I do when I write blog posts for an adult audience.
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