Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The joy of receiving a 1-star review

"Leigh, you're crazy!"
"You're sleep-deprived!"
"I do not think that word means what you think it means."

On a Goodreads scale of 1 to 5, 1 being the worst and 5 being the best, it certainly is preferable to receive a 5-star review.  And when it's accompanied by lots of lovely words like "Wonderful!" and "Entertaining!" and "Best Book Ever in the History of Books!", well, that definitely is nice.

A lot nicer than the 1-star review spewing vitriol toward you, your characters, and your dog, right?

Yes and no.

The yes is obvious.  Every writer on the planet, except for someone like Jonathan Franzen, wants to be loved and appreciated and to have his work revered and praised by critics and readers alike. Isn't that why we publish in the first place - to bring joy to other people?  Of course! So yes, I do want those 5-star reviews.  Keep 'em coming!

Now, the no.

Someone gives your book a 1-star. She writes how she hated your main character.  She hated the story, the plot twists she saw coming a hundred million miles away because that's how obvious your writing is.  She also detested the love interest who was boring, the best friend who was also boring or possibly boreing since she was so angry that she couldn't bother with spell check.  She had to write three paragraphs of how much she hated your book so that she could spare others the pain she experienced.  Oh and yes, she was very glad she got the book as a gift so she didn't have to pay for it.

Is that enough to give you heart palpitations?  Sensitive Author!  Do not fret. If you feel really terrible, go back and re-read some of the 5-star reviews you got.  They're just as accurate.  No, seriously, they are.

Okay, done? Breathe easy. Now, embrace the 1-star review.  Why?  Why? Let me explain:

That reader felt so much after reading your book, she had to tell the world. She had to locate her iPad or laptop, sign in to Goodreads, find your book, go to "review," compose it, and put it up.  Those are many, many steps to take.  Believe me, I know.  I'm a Goodreads member and that's the number one reason I don't write a lot of reviews!  It's time-consuming and for a book I didn't care about too much, meh, I'm not going to bother writing anything.

But this reader did!  She cared enough to go through all that in order to write and publish her review.  Was it nice?  No.  Was it well-written?  Of course not. But she did it anyway!  Let's be honest.  Today's readers don't have a lot of patience.  They are insta-buyers, insta-readers, insta-lovers, insta-haters.  They don't have time to give your book a chance.  They don't have time to waste. Does anyone?  I know I don't.  So look at the 1-star review this way: someone took the time to write something about your book. He or she easily could have deleted it from their Kindle and shrugged, meh. And moved on.

So you touched someone. They got annoyed, so don't do it again, but hey, they were touched. Now move on.  That's it.  Move along and linger no more. 


Rena Jones said...

There is always a silver lining, even if we have to squint to see it.

Great points.

Leigh Purtill said...

Thanks, Rena!

Yep, lots of squinting to hunt for that wonder I need glasses...!

mrkohler1 said...

Great half-full glass perspective! I'm bracing myself for Goodreads reviews now that my ARC is out. The other day I looked up Virginia Woolf's TO THE LIGHTHOUSE, which I love, and was relieved to see it averages 3.5 stars. Talk about perspective! Thanks for the 1/2-glass of courage today!

Leigh Purtill said...

Thanks, Christine!

I do that a lot too! Some of my favorite books got terrible GR reviews. Good luck with your new book!

Julie Clemons said...

SHE sounds boring!

Kai Strand said...

I really appreciate this, because I do feel this way. So, YAY! I'm cheering with you. The review that cuts me to the quick is the one that calls my writing or my story average. For some reason that hurts me the most. Yet, I always appreciate when a reader takes the time to share their feelings.

Leigh Purtill said...

Julie, ha! I think that way sometimes too when I read them.

Kai, I'm with you. Average is just so...mediocre. :) Glad it helped you.



I'm a reviewer on Goodreads for now. I don't give one star ratings. Well very few. Maybe two, to the same author. I applaud your acceptance of a one star review. Hopefully, they are always constructive, and honestly, I don't take the time to review books I didn't like. But maybe I should. (And Kai I'm sorry I haven't read Super Bad yet!)

Buried in Books

Leigh Purtill said...

Thanks, Heather! I feel the same way about the reviews I give. I figure there are so many people willing to knock someone down, why do I have to add to it? If I don't like, I don't rate.