Yesterday, I received my first review for my book, The Cure For Mental Illness?. The reason is that as soon as you publish a book to the Smashwords website, even if it has not been approved for distribution to booksellers (Barnes and Noble, Kobo, etc.) and online libraries, it shows up on Smashword’s home page as one of the newly published books.
Smashwords sent me an e-mail that I’d received a review. The mouse shaking underneath my trembling hand, I clicked the link to read the review. It was one star. Here’s what it said:
Hello, my name is Timothy [last name removed b/c I’m a kind person] and I DONT approve of this commercial. I have friends that suffer from mental illness and I was excited to hear some tips or something to help them, But this was not it. If you want to help people give more to the readers and the money will follow.
I need you to understand that up until that point, I have never tried to defend myself against a low-star review. Not even the two-star review for Tony’s Rose which basically slammed my and J’s personalities, because I’d modeled the main characters after us.
Ouch. Hard not to take that one personally. However, I did get that the reviewer preferred more stereotypical characters for romance novels. To each her own.
But, the review of my latest book made it sound like I was trying to do some major back-end selling or something. Really, a commercial?
That’s the word that got to me. I stared at it, first in shock, then in anger. This review sounded malicious.
I went to the Smashwords website and e-mailed them. Here’s what I wrote:
First of all, I want you to know that I’ve been self-publishing books since 2012 and have never, EVER sent either Amazon or Smashwords an e-mail like this. Up until now I have accepted all reviews, good and bad.
The other day I uploaded a book entitled “The Cure For Mental Illness?” It’s a book about how I used diet and nutritional supplements to cure my own depression and severe perimenopausal symptoms.
My very first review on Smashwords is from a guy named Timothy, who gave it one star, writing, “Hello, my name is Timothy [——-] and I DONT approve of this commercial. I have friends that suffer from mental illness and I was excited to hear some tips or something to help them, But this was not it. If you want to help people give more to the readers and the money will follow.”
The only “commercial” in the book was a recommendation for a particular brand of supplement, from whom I make no money (and I state that in the book very clearly). The MAJORITY of the book is about eating right for mental health. I don’t understand how anyone could label it as a “commercial.”
Especially since I plan to keep this book free forever, so I will never make any money from it. Neither do I do any back-end selling, or promos of any of my paid books.
I believe this book can help many people, but you know as well as I that this one-star review can kill that possibility (at least on the Smashwords website). Is there any way to have this review removed?
Mind you, I had no idea what Smashword’s policy was about removing reviews, if they ever did it. Amazon has a link next to each review that allows you to report it, but I didn’t see anything like that on this particular review.
In other words, I was flying blind. Hoping beyond hope that my squeaky wheel would get some grease.
Fewer than three hours after I sent the e-mail, a Smashwords customer service rep named Kevin replied thusly:
Thanks for writing in and reporting this. I believe this review would meet the standard of one that can be removed.
I’ve gone ahead and deleted it for you. It will take 24 hours for the 1-star rating over-all average to disappear.
Thank You, Jesus!!
Of course, I thanked Kevin as well, promptly and with much gushing.
You can read the book on my blog, here. Or you can download it from Smashwords, here. It is available on Amazon, but I have to price it at $0.99 until it gets into the Barnes and Noble Nook store, at which time I’ll be able to contact Amazon and ask them to price it for free in the Kindle store.
Do me a favor and don’t be a jerk like the first reviewer. Don’t review the book unless you or someone you know who has a mental illness has tried the program RELIGIOUSLY for at least thirty days (if you see positive results before then, which is likely, by all means leave a review at that point).
If you review the book without making the dietary and nutritional changes recommended within it, without seeing for yourself whether or not the changes help, the review will be unfair.
Thanks for understanding; thank you even more for your support and cooperation in helping me get the word out about this book. 🙂