Tuesday 14 October 2014

What to do when your book gets a 1 star review

I got a one star review on Amazon yesterday for Part One of The TempIt caught me off guard. I was at the osteopathic clinic where I work part-time and I'd been about to show a friendly patient my book cover. That's when I saw it. 

'A load of waffle' - the reviewer had written.
I felt suddenly embarrassed to show the lady the webpage.

Momentarily subdued, I blamed my cold. A one star review and a bad cold all on the same day. I felt like my face was melting and I'd just been punched.  
It's inevitable. I'd been expecting it. As soon as you put yourself out there, people are going to judge.

          The inner voices started up at once:
            But don't they realise how hard I've worked to get here?
            It's not personal Emily.
            It was a free sample! They should have given it another star for being free!
            It's not going to be everyone's cup of tea.  
            But it does what it says on the tin.
            Some people are going to hate it.
            Can't I get a star for correct spelling?
            There's bound to be a typo in it somewhere.
            I spelt my name right!
            Benet? It really looks like there's a letter missing somewhere...
It's not a big deal really. It's only one little review on a very short section of my book. If I ever need an ego boost I've got a whole Happy Folder of Wattpad comments I've saved. They're there in case the doubts ambush me.   
I've got another trick too. I've just discovered it. What really makes a one star pale into insignificance is checking out the one star reviews of your favourite books.

Go on, do it.That's when it hits you how subjective it all is.

Stephen King's 11.22.63, a book I daydreamed about for days after I'd finished it, is 'contrived nonsense', my beloved Starter for Ten is 'pretentious juvenile tripe',  Donna Tartt's The Secret History, which reeled me into its dark clutches and hypnotised me, is 'a waste of time'. The Husband's Secret is 'rubbish', though personally I couldn't put it down. I could go on forever. 

Just for laughs I checked out reviews for some classics. Poor Charles Dickens gets a one star by someone who then comments, 'I can't comment yet because I haven't read it.' O-kay.     

There are books for every taste and as long as there are enough people who like reading mine I'll keep on writing! If you're a writer, I advise you to do the same!



Rosie Fiore said...

I got a one-star review because someone had downloaded my book and it had got cheaper the following day. I've also had some scathing ones which were genuinely critical. It never stops feeling personal or hurting. But I guess that's what we get when we put ourselves out there!

Emily Benet said...

As if price has anything to do with the author! Someone seems to have just logged onto amazon to only give my two books bad reviews, which feels personal. But, whatever, I love writing and we're the lucky ones getting published! Sod'em :)

Anonymous said...

Wise words! I got a one star from somebody on Goodreads whose review was "Horrible. End of." It pretty much made me laugh though. I suppose it's when all the reviews are negative that it becomes worrying!

Emily Benet said...

I think you can laugh at 1 star reviews actually, because they usually are pretty grumpy. A fellow writer said that 3 stars were the worst because they're usually more thought out - and you find yourself agreeing with them and then worrying you should have written it differently! Best not to look at all, although very hard when it's just a click away!