I briefly mentioned overcoming the one star bandit reviews in my last post. But having noticed a few anxious, confused and disgruntled Facebook posts from authors recently, I thought a little cheering up was in order. It’s not all bad news.
Reviews such as ‘Difficult reading made no sence!’ (note the spelling) and other gut-wrenchers like ‘Don’t waste your money’ ‘Absolutely hated it,’ might seem a little extreme in contrast to the many five star reviews present on every author’s book page. So my question is this. While some of these critical reviewers don’t like your book, others might just not get your book.
Most of us may think we have skin like a rhino, but when faced with criticism we become derailed and disappointed ― a temporary interruption from writing the next 1000 words. We research the reviewer, study the books they read, wonder what on earth possessed them to buy something they hated when the first 15% is available in the Look Inside feature on Amazon – if only to determine the writing style.
My motto is: If the first page doesn’t hook, then don’t buy the book.
For some authors it may come as a surprise and a comfort to learn that there are a few bestsellers out there who also have one star reviews. Depending on format and edition, here are some of their stats on Amazon:
Number of 1 star ratings: 325 out of 1,737 critical reviews
Most gut-wrenching Quote: In the trash can as I write
Number of 1 star ratings: 148 out of 502 critical reviews
Most gut-wrenching Quote: Flat, Uninspired, Completely Devoid of Plot
Number of 1 star ratings: 102 out of 392 critical reviews
Most gut-wrenching Quote: Worst. Koontz. Ever. (sorry…)
Number of 1 star ratings: 90 out of 234 critical reviews
Most gut-wrenching Quote: This book should be burnt
Number of 1 star ratings: 9,028 out of 17,014 critical reviews
Most gut-wrenching Quote: Fifty shades of dysfunction.
Number of 1 star ratings: 326 out of 953 critical reviews
Most gut-wrenching Quote: A Game of Yawns
You can see for yourself (just click on the hyperlink) and take a look at a few more while you’re at it.
Author Anne Rice told the Guardian: “They’ve worked their way into the Amazon system as parasites, posting largely under pseudonyms, lecturing, bullying, seeking to discipline authors whom they see as their special prey . . . They’re all about power. They clearly organise, use multiple identities and brag about their ability to down vote an author’s works if the author doesn’t ‘behave’ as they dictate.”
Award-winning author P.D. James has had a few herself.
If authors feel they have truly received a malicious one star review, or been down voted (as Rice puts it) the rule of thumb is not to engage. For anyone wanting to buy that book a 20-comment bashing thread might be a turn-off. Leave it alone and that one star review becomes an outlier compared to dozens of good ones.
The presence of the bad lends validity to the good.
Now… does anyone feel a little better?
I think I do.