Bad reviews suck. No matter what kind of book you’re publishing, seeing a low rating come in on something you’ve worked hard to create feels bad.
Since there’s no way to respond to customer reviews on Amazon, it can feel like you don’t have a chance to defend yourself when someone leaves a negative review.
In this case, the best strategy is prevention.
In this article, we’re going to look at some things you can do to ensure your customers are happy, and that if they leave a review, it’s a good one.
My top-selling journal has hundreds of reviews on it, and most of them are 4 and 5 stars. There are a handful of negative ones, of course, because that’s just an inevitability when selling products online.
These negative reviews are actually really instructive. But why?
Why are negative reviews useful?
You might be surprised to hear that I don’t think they are a bad thing…
At least, on competitor’s products.
Negative reviews give you a chance to see what problems customers are having with an item.
This can give you some insight into what you might do differently to avoid the same issues.
If you’re planning on designing a cat-themed colouring book, for example, you’d want to first look at what other cat-themed colouring books are popular on Amazon.
Scroll down on these popular listings and look at the reviews, filtering for 1 and 2 stars.
The comments that people have left are going to give you an idea of how you can make a better product.
Printing Quality Issues
One kind of negative review that I see every now and then is about the printing quality.
The paper that KDP uses for printing their books is really intended for normal fiction or non-fiction books.
It isn’t necessarily as thick as the paper you’d find in most commercial notebooks or journals.
This becomes an issue sometimes when people want to write with markers or inky pens that bleed through the pages.
There’s nothing that can really be done about this, unfortunately.
So if you get a negative review that complains about the paper quality, you’ll just have to focus on getting positive reviews about the other aspects of your book to drown that one out.
Avoid Misleading Marketing
The first thing you need to do to make sure you get positive reviews is to make sure nothing about your marketing is misleading.
You want your customer to know exactly what they’re buying, so that when they receive the book, it’s just as good (or better) than they expected.
The three areas that you can focus on for this are your title, your cover, and your product description.
Let me tell you about a really unfortunate journal I stumbled across…
I was browsing through Amazon and saw a journal with a pretty nice-looking cover.
It had a bunch of 1 star reviews, though.
That seemed odd to me, so I clicked on it!
Now, the title of that journal was something like “An Idiot’s Guide to ____”.
Clearly they were leveraging the success of books with similar titles (which is a bad idea, because I assume those are trademarked).
But the legality of it wasn’t why the book had bad reviews.
It was because inside, the journal was only blank lined pages!
With a title like that, customers bought it expecting an actual guide.
And… you can’t really blame them, right?
That title is totally misleading.
This is an example of why it’s so important to make it clear what your customer can expect inside the journal.
Some people will only look at the cover and title before putting the book in their carts.
It’s important to make sure that the messaging there is accurate.
And for those who take the time to read the product description, you want to clearly outline what they’re going to find inside your book.
Amazon doesn’t seem to turn on the “Look Inside” feature for all low-content books.
That means your customers might not be able to see the inside of the book before purchasing.
I like to list the book contents in point form in the product descriptions…
This way, I can tell them that there are X number of pages featuring a specific template, or a combination of lined pages and worksheet pages…
Whatever’s actually going on inside your book.
This is the main way to avoid negative reviews. You want to make sure that the product listing is an accurate representation of the product they will be receiving.
Price vs Value Ratio
Beyond the information in the listing, another reason that I see people leaving negative reviews is that they feel they’ve paid too much for the product.
This usually happens when they don’t notice that a journal is only 80 pages…
And the cost doesn’t tip them off.
Since you can set almost any price you like for your books on Amazon, some people do get greedy and set really high profit margins for themselves.
High profit margins work as long as you are delivering high value.
Low reviews happen when the price of the book doesn’t connect to the value it provides.
When you are setting your prices, there are a few things to keep in mind.
The length of the book is a factor. Short books = lower cost.
The complexity of the interior is also a factor. More complex = higher cost.
A good way to figure out your pricing when starting off is by looking at how much comparable journals or books are selling for.
Don’t be afraid to set your price a dollar or two lower than the competition, to start.
You can change the price of your journal at any time. Starting off on the lower end at the beginning can be a good way to get some sales and reviews.
After that, you can adjust the price to accord with demand and value.
Negative reviews are somewhat of an inevitability when you are selling anything online.
People are way more comfortable being negative when they are typing on a screen.
But there are plenty of things we can do to mitigate this kind of feedback.
Above all, it comes down to creating a quality product that meets the expectations of your customers.
I push that message all the time…
The low-content publishing space is filled with trash.
The are thousands of books out there that are thrown together in under 5 minutes.
It’s important that we create high-quality products with thought and intention behind them.
THAT is the way to stand out in a saturated marketplace.
And trust me… your reviews will shine light on the quality of your product!
If you’re looking to get a head start on designing some journals with intention and care, you might like the KDP Journal Templates that I sell on my Etsy shop.
They include interesting page designs that you can fully customize to make your journals unique.
Don’t let the design work hold you back from getting started with your journal ideas! A template is a great way to dive into the process and learn as you go.
That’s all for now; thanks for reading, and I’ll catch you in the next post!