First of All, How Dare You
The inevitability of one-star reviews.
It’s finally happened. One of your books is receiving one-star reviews.
While this day comes for every author, it’s not something any of us look forward to. It’s a rite of passage, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
Sort of like puberty.
While there are definite downsides to receiving one-star reviews (your book’s cumulative star rating will likely drop, as will your self-esteem), there’s definitely something else going on here.
Something that might encourage you.
When a book releases, the first people to post reviews are generally your most charitable readers.
Your launch team. Your friends. Your family members and acquaintances. People who follow you online or signed up for your mailing list.
Regardless of your book’s value or your relative skill level, your early audience is likely to show up because they love you, love your message, and are predisposed to embrace your book.
Unless you are one of those authors unfortunate enough to have your own personal haters following you around the internet (yes, it does happen), initial reviews will likely be good, and reading them will warm the frozen shards of your publication-shattered heart.
Then, somewhere along the line, things take a turn.
It’s only later, when your book reaches a broader audience—an audience less inclined to read or review charitably—that you will start seeing one-star reviews.
And in that respect, a spate of mixed or low reviews could actually be a good sign.
One-star reviews mean your book has traveled beyond your immediate sphere of influence to reach a broader audience. An audience who may not understand you, like your writing style, or agree with your message.
But an audience engaging with your book all the same.
Even when engagement looks like strong disagreement, you’ve initiated a conversation around your topic, a conversation that could move things forward even in the face of—or perhaps even because of—a low review.
I’ve always believed book reviews are as much a reflection of the reviewer as of the work itself; and as a reader, I’ve definitely read books others have reviewed uncharitably just to see what the fuss was about. So in that sense, I understand that a few bad reviews here and there won’t destroy my book.
As a writer, though?
As a writer, it’s more complicated.
I’m not going to lie.
One-star reviews can make my heart drop.
But it won’t stay down for long.
Because I know how this works. My books aren’t written for everyone. They’re written with a specific audience in mind. As a natural result, not everyone will like my books.
And that’s okay.
Looking for a good read? Want to see if my books might be right for you?
Here are a few options as we head toward the weekend.
And when you’re finished, please leave an honest review. Low or high rating, as long as you explain the reasoning behind your choice, your review will help readers decide if a book is for them.
In that respect, every review helps.
Even the one-star variety.