It happens. It’s a fact of this business. You may not get a one-star review for some time, but it can happen. Your book is selling and it’s getting a few four and five stars and then the unthinkable happens. That glaring one-star review appear one morning. It shows up like a sore thumb. It bums you out and you feel defeated. It hurts seeing that lowly one-star, staring back at you from the screen.
Your mind goes into overtime, thinking everyone hates my book! How could I write such a horrible book? I’m a terrible writer! I guess I should just quit since nobody likes it anyway. Maybe I should just unpublish the book and toss it in the trashcan.
The feelings are real. The pain is real. Someone just crapped all over your precious work. A book that took you months to write and edit finally gets published. You treated it like your own child. You feel like your child has been murdered or a knife stabbed into your back. That awful feeling in the pit of your stomach, you think, ‘How could they possibly hate it that badly to click just one star?’
You need to do what I do. Become a duck. What exactly do I mean? Ducks have this ability to keep dry, even in the water. When a duck dunks its head under and comes back to the surface, the water flows off their backs.
That one-star review is like water on the duck’s back. Let it do no harm to you or your attitude. Let’s face facts: you aren’t going to please everyone all the time. There will be those among us that have nothing better to do than troll us on Amazon. Some people are jealous of what you are able to do. It takes a special type of person to write. It takes long hours of isolated laborious work. We nurture our work, but not everyone is going to like it.
Unfortunately, in today’s society, the ones that really love your work, don’t take the time to give you a high rating. It seems only a handful of readers review anymore and now that Amazon has made it easier to just click a star rating, you don’t even have to write a review of a book. If only more readers would provide feedback. Sure, those four and five-star ratings are awesome to see, but a written review provides valuable insights; a gauge into what the reader thinks of your work. Use this as a learning opportunity.
I get those one-star reviews. Even the biggest authors like Stephen King get bad reviews. They don’t let bad reviews stop them. Neither should you.
There isn’t anything you can do to prevent those ratings unless they are attacking you personally. However, if you get a one-star with a written review, read what the reviewer is saying. It can give you clues as to why they didn’t like it. Perhaps, it was just not their cup of tea. Or they might give you some constructive critique on grammar. There are grammar police on the internet who would like nothing better than to cut you down by telling you there are grammar issues or you used the wrong word someplace.
Take those to heart and investigate what information is being revealed by your reader. I oftentimes find what they are saying to be true. I go back and fix those issues. Then, I respond to them thanking them for their honest review and that those issues have been addressed.
If the reader just didn’t care for the story, there isn’t anything you can do to stop that from happening. But if you have someone telling you they didn’t like it, I respond to them, thanking them, again, for their honest review. I apologize that they didn’t care for it and politely ask what exactly they didn’t like? This is valuable interaction with your reader base.
I am being totally honest about that last statement. There have been a few times that the reviewer goes in and changes that star rating. I’ve seen a one-star change to three. I’ve seen a two-star review move to four. I’ve even had one reader totally change their opinion saying it was a great story but still needed some editing. I took what was being provided to me and made the book better by fixing those small issues.
To wrap up, just know most people will like your work. Those who really loved it will leave high marks. There are some people that troll the internet. They are out there to bully you. They’re out there to make fun of you and fill your mind with negative energy. Keep in mind that if you do get an unfavorable written review, there isn’t anything you can do about it. unless the review is attacking you personally. I’ve had that happen a time or two and Amazon will remove hurtful and attacking remarks. That reviewer will receive a warning, reminding them of the review policy. If they continue to leave hurtful remarks to anyone, they are banded for future reviews.
Until next time, this is Author Brian K. Larson, sparking imaginations, one book at a time.