So, legit one-star reviews…they really aren’t a dream, per se, and to the best of my knowledge not a single author genuinely “loves” them. But, are they all nightmare quality?
My personal opinion is that I’d rather not get any at all, however, when I do, I find that if I detach myself from my initial knee-jerk emotional response, they’re easier to dissect into meaningful, and even helpful input. I can own them.
When I started my author journey, I took to heart some great advice: Not everyone will love your books, and that’s okay! This helped me be more objective when I finally received my first one-star review on Amazon.
Let’s take a look at it. This is from my first book, Prophecy:
“This was a very boring book. The women were in charge and the men were just yes dears. The plot didn't make sense either. Why did one alien from a race of aliens have the right to destroy earth and another alien race? To call for deaths because he wanted to? I was so bored that a skip some parts. Do not waste your time reading this book.”
And here is the second one for the same book, which was posted five years later:
“I didn’t get past the first few chapters, I didn’t finish reading this book.”
Or are they?
I appreciate that the first reader took the time to explain why they didn’t like the story. Boring is their personal opinion, which is at odds with 99% of the rest of the reviews. This is one of those readers who doesn’t love my book, but it’s not a personal attack. They might very well love another one of my stories, or not. If not, then they will never be one of my readers anyway.
The women were in charge…. Hallelujah! This is the coolest statement in support of my story! Why? First, because the women aren’t “in charge.” In this alien culture, they are viewed as equals to the men. They are respected, and hold positions of authority. Not everyone sees this as a good thing, unfortunately. On the other hand, other potential readers might look at this review and think, “Hot damn! Girl power!” and 1-click the snot outta this puppy.
Second, if the men were all “yes, dears,” then the hero would not be the senior captain of an entire fleet, would he? He would have been a she instead, and that would’ve turned this into a completely different story in a completely different genre.
The plot didn’t make sense. What a beautiful red flag that this pantser (an author who doesn’t outline or plan a story) needs to keep an eye on her plots/sub-plots. Even my developmental editor has pinged me on goal, motivation, and conflict issues (GMC) for a couple of subsequent books. Just telling a story is not enough. One of my weak points, I get it.
The right to destroy/call for deaths. Um, conflict? Without it there isn’t much of a story? (Note to reviewer: This kind of thing happens in real life all the time. It’s tragic.) I love this comment because it confirms that the villain’s GMC did not resonate with the reviewer. The underlying message here to me: Work on this, stupid!
Skipping over parts. Yikes. This might explain why the reviewer didn’t understand the roles of men and women in this culture, and found the plot confusing. Skipping parts in any book can be detrimental to the reading experience in general, but more so with an emotional, action-packed 90K word novel. If you skip, you’re gonna miss something important!
That being said, the onus is on me to be alert for other such mentions. If this becomes a common thread in reviews for other books, I need to take a closer look at why, and fix it.
Do not waste your time reading this book. Once again, this is a personal opinion that doesn’t stack up to most of the rest of the reviews. I’d be lying if I said this one didn’t hurt, but it isn’t my job is to please everyone. I could do everything right, and there will always be someone who doesn’t like it. And I’m okay with that.
What’s my take-away from this review, you ask? GMC is a potential weakness, one that I’ve since owed and am working to improve. Now when I start a new project, I loosely outline my chapters, and I write out the GMC for each of my main characters, as well as for the overall story arcs. I’m not a full-blown plotter, yet, but meeting myself in the middle is working for me so that makes it a win.
Sadly, the second review is all personal opinion/preferences. I do wish this reviewer had given me a little more to go on so I could understand why they got through only a few chapters before giving up. But, they didn’t, and to get my panties in a bunch trying to figure it out is bad for my mental health. <Cue Let it Go! here.>
I have found that writing is a learning and growing process. Authors are always trying to improve their writing, and reviews provide an excellent tool to uncover potential weaknesses.
So, readers, has a one- or two-star review ever influenced your book purchases? What are the triggers that get you to 1-click a book?
Authors, my way is not the only way. Do reviews of your books help you, or do you avoid them? Why, or why not?
Until next month!
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USA Today Bestselling Author Debbie Cassidy: Rogue
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Becca Brayden: Alien King Crashes the Wedding
Kate Rudolph: Synnr’s Saint
Nancey Cummings: Have Tail, Will Travel
Nancey Cummings: Have Tail, Will Travel