This month our intrepid group of writers will be dealing with the low-rating review. The one star on Amazon. On Goodreads the scale goes from the dreaded, “Did not like it,” to the fantastic, “It was amazing.” Authors and readers, weigh in! How do you interact with the one star review?
Author of As the Crow Flies
The more I thought about this particular can of worms, the more I wanted to put a lid on it! Yes, people have the right to express their opinion. No, it’s not always kind, helpful, or even necessary. Yes, the person under the glaring light of criticism might learn something valuable. No, that doesn’t give Everyone Else the right or the duty to shred someone’s work to pieces.
Author of Oathtaker
I believe that in general, the more reviews, the better. When I see a book with few reviews and those that are posted are all 5-stars, I tend to think that the author got a few friends to post positive ratings in an effort to promote sales for the book. By contrast, when I see a book with quite a number of reviews, I expect that I will find that some people have highly praised the work, while others will have been considerably less flattering.
When I personally review a work, I try to put myself in the shoes of the average intended reader for that work.
Author of A Hero’s Curse & Nightrage Rising
Interacting with criticism is never easy as an author. There’s opportunity to grow, to shape our stories, and do better, but it still isn’t easy.
From the reader’s point of view, reviews can provide a wonderfully unvarnished perspective on what to expect. I read reviews on everything from books, computers, a new lawn mower or a plastic doodad to organize junk. Just how well does this doodad organize? How well does a this mower mow? How well does this computer compute, and how well does this book read? I usually gravitate toward the three star reviews. They are the middle of the road, balanced reviewers. They aren’t star crossed lovers nor bitter haters. They give me the good and the bad and I can get a fairly good idea of whether I’ll like the story.
As an author, I get all misty eyed at the 5 star reviews – but I probably learn the most from the 3 and 4 star reviews. To be honest, the occasional 1 star review doesn’t hurt too terribly bad. I assume that the story just wasn’t for that particular reader. Harry Potter received some poor reviews, even from critics. (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone currently sits at a proud 1,082 one star Amazon reviews).
I liked this one: “The ending was rubbish.”
But Potter doesn’t have a corner on thoughtful critics, loud complainers and nasally whiners. Fablehaven, and The Land of Elyon, and The Chronicles of Narnia, and, well, just about everything ever written has found someone who can point to something they didn’t like, or, for those who are both careful and thoughtful, something that is genuinely wrong. For a story can go wrong.
But for the complainers and whiners, there’s the desire to respond – to lash out and strike back. After all, the Empire did it. 😉
The best piece of advice here comes from George Bernard Shaw:
“I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.”
So what about you? Do you review, critique, comment or complain? And how do you deal with criticism of your own work? Let me know! I’m always interested to hear your thoughts on what you’re reading now and what I need to pick up, (or avoid)!