When I started writing I made the decision to review every book I finished, and I’ve stuck to that thinking I could hardly expect readers to review my books if I wasn’t willing to put the same effort into those I read.
I spotted a superb 1-star review for The Joker the other day, I think I mentioned it on last week’s post, or possible the week before. Anyway I found it because of the new extension I’m using, Scribecount. There is a bookshelf on there of all your books with a second tab for the reviews and it appears to have dragged them from all the different sites.
I’ve never seen reviews from Google before but the 1 star was given because my book was written in English. I had to translate that from the Polish. I did feel it was a little unfair to give a book 1 star because of that, particularly when the title and book description were written in English so that might have been the clue that the book was also in English. But hey ho, nothing I can do about it.
I also saw a 1-star review for A Single Step written by someone in the US. It’s titled, Not bought by me! And the review reads “I don’t know what this is. I don’t think I purchased it.” Again, perhaps a tad harsh to give 1 star under these circumstances?
The worst of it is that these types of reviews drag the overall star rating down. Still I haven’t done anything about them with the view that anyone who checks out the 1-star reviews will disregard these ones anyway.
And I’ve definitely not responded. That is the rule with reviews. Never respond.
I do appreciate anyone who is willing to write a review. I do get a lot more ratings nowadays since that became an option but it is lovely when someone takes the time and trouble to leave a few words. At the end of the day, whatever the number of stars, they are another review, and us authors do need them. They show a book has been well read and often we have to have a certain number of reviews to be able to promote on some sites.
Okay, these 1 star reviews I’ve picked out are a bit odd and fortunately the overwhelming majority of my reviews are positive but even when they are not I don’t get upset by them. But I do see some writers on social media sometimes get themselves into a right state over them. There’s no point. If you choose to read your reviews, do so, take them on the chin and move on. They are only personal opinions after all and the first lesson every writer should learn is that you cannot please everyone, however hard you try.
The other point is that there is no point in complaining about reviews you get. You made the decision to put your book out there. That gives any reader the right to say whatever they like about it. Obviously if you see repeated phrases in the reviews complaining of editing issues or a lack of proof reading, if plot holes are noticed or there are complaints about your flat characters, then you should take a serious look at what you’ve published and go and do something about it. But if it’s simply that they didn’t like your plot, setting or thought a character was unlikeable then there is little you can, or should, do about it, your book simply wasn’t for them.
Also, a 1-star review is not the end of the world. What you really want on a book is a good spread of reviews hopefully with most being 5 stars and descending down to only a few 1 stars. I once read that it was a badge of honour to get your first 1 star. It meant your book had reached enough people for this to have become an inevitability.
How about you? Do you review the books you read? Or have you begun to rate books instead now that is an option? Do you read reviews for your own books, if you’re an author? Or would you rather not know?
Haha! My favorite lone-star was for my first travel memoir. The reader complained, “I thought this would be about elephants.”
A lack of research before purchase by the reader surely shouldn’t result in a 1 star, Barb. Haha.
Reviews are supposed to be the lifeblood for writers, and a good review can make your day. I just wish that everyone who reads a book would review it, even one line would be lovely.
But… and this is a big one… some book selling sites will not allow people to review anything if they are not regular (spending) customers… I have missed out on some brilliant reviews like this…
Oh I agree, Jaye. I think you do get a few more now people can just rate but a few words make all the difference.
I’m completely behind in reviewing the books I read. I used to be very good at posting a review when I finished a book but I’ve got very lax recently. I don’t give one star reviews because if I think a book is that bad I don’t carry in reading it. So if I do post a review it’s generally positive. Some reviewers who adopt a similar policy have got into hot water when they’re judged to be biased because their reviews are always good, implying they’re not discerning. But that’s to misunderstand the philosophy of “too many books, too little time…!
Someone got a 1 star review recently because their book, set in 2020, hadn’t mentioned the Covid crisis. The reviewer didn’t seem to appreciate that it had been written many years previously and set in the future! How were they supposed to know we’d be hit by a pandemic!
But the funniest 1 star review I heard about was where something in the Amazon algorithms had muddled someone’s text book up with another item. The review said how his book was rubbish as it hadn’t stopped the water from going down the plug hole. For some obscure reason, his book had been wrongly listed in the plumbing category!
I agree, Wendy. I decided to review all the books I read but like you I don’t give 1 or 2 stars as I wouldn’t carry on reading a book if I felt like that about it, and I won’t review a book I didn’t finish.
That COVID crisis review is a little harsh – we’re writing fiction and don’t have to mention any real life issues if we don’t want to.
And how someone can download a book instead of buying a plug is beyond me!! Says more about the reviewer actually 🙂 🙂
I think an objective critique is fine because we can’t please everyone all of the time.
It’s the ones saying; ‘I hated it’ that irritate.
Why did you hate it?
Was the plot implausible?
Was the structure not tight enough?
Were the characters two dimensional?
Was the denouement a disappointment?
If you choose to leave a review then please do us the courtesy of qualifying your comments to justify your star rating!
Yes, I agree! Those don’t give us anything useful at all.
I remember when I got my first one star review and it really stung but nowadays I’m more interested in the overall review average. As long as I’m getting plenty of good reviews I try to not let the bad ones bother me. Maybe I’ve become hardened to it over the years. 🙂
I do think we become hardened, at least we need too, there’s no point in hiding under the duvet every time we receive criticism! 🙂
This is a comment from Luccia Gray, which she couldn’t post herself for whatever reason!
Nice post and I agree!
I review most of the books I finish and enjoy, so that’s mostly 4 or 5 stars. I don’t finish or review the books I don’t like, because life’s too short to continue reading a book I’m not enjoying. I never review books I don’t enjoy because it’s my opinion, maybe someone else likes it, and anyway, I’m not sending negative vibes into the universe, there is already too much if that:(
I don’t like getting negative reviews, and I have a few, some actually viciously nasty, alas Mr Rochester is idolised by many, but they’re like a grain of sand on the beach where I live!
You have the same reviewing strategy as me, Luccia.
I suppose when you have written about a very specific character you are opening yourself up to those who idolise him. However, there’s really no need to be viciously nasty in this world, is there! I’m glad you didn’t let them get you down.