A One Out of Five Review

It happened this weekend.  I got my first one out of five review.  When I published my book I knew it was bound to happen and I played the scenario out in my mind; mentally preparing myself for the blow. Ya know, the reality isn’t as bad as my worst fears.

Don’t get me wrong, it stung.  Since my book is like one of my babies, I want everyone in the world to love it, but that’s not realistic. 

So I shed a few tears, swept the porch, then decided to share yet another aspect of being a self-published writer with anyone who might be interested.  My office of one feels particularly lonely today (although to be fair, it is also located on my clean back porch with sunshine, birds singing and a cool spring breeze).

If you would like to read it, the review is on the blog The Reading Kitten and was written by a very sweet woman who was kind enough to read my book and give a first-time author a chance.  Whether she liked it or not, I am truly grateful to her for doing that.  I have read some horribly unkind, hurtful reviews for other books on Amazon and Goodreads.  This review was fair and honest and definitely not cruel in any way.  Maybe that’s what makes this so much easier.  

Reviews are there to help readers decide if a book is for them and one star reviews do that just as much as five star.  I actually read the one and two star reviews more than I do the fives.  If the issues the reviewer had with the story are not things that would bother me, then I am encouraged to buy the book.  My two-star Amazon review points out that my book has teenage drinking, cussing and sex.  That’s true and that review saves romance readers who are offended by those things from buying a book they would not enjoy.

Reviews also help me to be a better writer.  The good ones let me know what resonated with my readers, which elements worked.  The negative (or more accurately, low star) reviews give me more insight into who my audience is or isn’t.  They help me see elements that might be confusing or places in my storyline that need clarification.  

I read an article recently by an indie author who hit it out of the ballpark on her first try.  Her debut novel went to number three in her category on Amazon.  Jealously reared it’s ugly head that day.  Then I put myself in her shoes.  The slow ride may be frustrating, but instant success can be scary, very scary.  I checked out her book on Goodreads and I am sorry to say that she had some of those truly mean-girl reviews.  She has thousands of five star reviews, but something tells me it is the hurtful, biting ones that stick with her most (although I hope not).  There will always be those who feel the need to take pot-shots at whoever is at the top.  She might be ready for that, but I can honestly say that I’m not.  

I’m posting this today as a way to face another fear; pull it out into the light and examine it; see that reality isn’t as bad as what I created in my mind.  I got a one out of five review.  I cried, cleaned (a little), analyzed, shared and survived. 


One thought on “A One Out of Five Review

  1. I will admit to not getting any 1-star reviews so far.

    I will also say this: if you don't get any 1-stars, your book probably isn't very good (assuming reasonable exposure here). If no one hates it, you haven't got enough emotion. This is especially true for sappy romance reviewers.

    One good example is Game of Thrones. I enjoyed another work by the author–Tuf Voyaging–immensely; however, GoT I found… not too *dark*, but lacking in any characters that merited empathy. I also found the writing style turgid and difficult; in sharp contrast to the aforementioned, which was tighter than a gnome's wallet. (Little Artemis Fowl reference there.)

    Perhaps more simply, many 1-star reviews are prompted when reviewers are endlessly pestered by fans about how great something is; and then really review harshly a book that wasn't their thing to begin with. I wrote a review on Adichie's *Purple Hibiscus* a while back–which wasn't my best, BTW–because I was forced to read it in English. Looking back, I really don't think it merited 2-stars; but the overwhelmingly fake, evidently paid-for 5-star reviews (and my teacher's opinion) annoyed the hell out of me.


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