It’s really up to YOU what you do when you get a one-star review, but I can tell you what I did.
I announced it on Facebook and Twitter – “Just received my first one-star review on Amazon. I have ARRIVED!”
I really try to make it a habit to tell the truth about my experiences, both on my personal Facebook page and on my writing-related social networks. Yes, I will surely post online if I get a great review from a book blogger or if by some miracle I ever become a bestselling author, but I also make it a point to be totally upfront about my shortcomings. I think this is helpful for other writers to know that they’re not alone.
Getting a one-star review is simply a fact of life for writers. Since the day I published my first book on July 9, 2014, I knew that it was inevitable that I would get some bad reviews. I knew that, eventually, somebody was going to hate my book and have no qualms in telling me about it. My biggest fear was that the first review I received would be negative. That fear was unfounded, thank goodness. The first review I EVER got was a five-star review from someone I did not know. Believe me; I’m still excited about that.
Readers sometimes give one-star reviews for no good reason. If the book was well written, but simply not a reader’s cup of tea, he may blame you for it. She may one-star it if there’s too much violence in your book or not enough, or if she’s offended because you used a naughty word or two. Sometimes he just did not like your book, and that’s okay. Not everyone will. You might totally disagree with the reader, or you might even think the she has a point. If the reader is upset because there are typos and grammatical errors in your work, then you’ve got a problem that you really need to address if you’re hoping to succeed as a professional writer.
Some writers don’t read their reviews, and that’s fine. Personally, I do read mine because I think it helps to know what my readers like and what they don’t. Great reviews are wonderful, but critical ones can actually help you improve your writing.
The book in question here, QUEEN HENRY, has a somewhat controversial ending. Although the book does contain a male/male relationship, I never said the book was a gay romance novel. It’s not – rather it’s LGBT Fiction. (SPOILER ALERT) The book has a somewhat bittersweet ending, as the lovers do not end up together due to circumstances beyond their control. I can completely understand that a reader might be disappointed if they read this book thinking it’s a romance. A reviewer for Baltimore OUTLoud (an LGBT newspaper) gave the book a terrific, front-page review. I met the reviewer, Steve Charing, in person and he told me that he had initially been disappointed in the ending, but the more he thought about it, the more he realized that was how the book needed to end.
Madam One-Star Reviewer was ANGRY about the ending. Her review was entitled OMG I AM SO UNBELIEVABLY ANGRY RIGHT NOW! I FEEL LIKE I WAS ROBBED OF MY PRECIOUS TIME AND ENERGY! She even said “I plan to diligently avoid this writer from now on.” (I’m pretty sure she got the book as a free download, so I’m not exactly crying in my beer over that loss….)
Sure, it made me a little sad to get a one-star review, but I really wasn’t too upset about it. I understand why she feels the way she does. She called the book a gay romance novel (again, it’s not, and was never marketed as such). She was not the only one who was sad about the ending, but the vast majority of readers understood the point of it. The story is about a homophobic guy who takes a strange pill and becomes temporarily gay. He falls in love with a man and learns an important lesson in the process, but then the effects of the drug wear off. He and his boyfriend still love each other, but are no longer lovers (Reviewer said just because he’s not gay doesn’t mean they can’t stay together. While this is true, that’s not what my character chose to do. )His boyfriend ends up happy with another man and Henry later has a girlfriend, so it’s not a horribly depressing ending. Some readers were disappointed that Henry turned out to be straight after all. However, I didn’t want to tell the story of a man who was struggling with his sexuality and realizes he’s gay. I wanted to tell the story of a straight, homophobic guy and who becomes temporarily gay so he could undergo a life-changing experience.
The thing is – this one-star reviewer CARED. She cared for Henry and Thomas, and was mad that they broke up. She even claimed to like most of the book until the end when she threw a tantrum and posted her opinion online. It’s nice to know that my book emotionally resonated; that’s better than indifference.
It can actually be a good thing to get a one-star review. First of all, people know that at least some of your reviews are real and aren’t just from people you know. I can’t help but be curious about one-star reviews, and I tend to click on them to see what the reviewer hated about a book that I’m thinking of reading. If a one-star reviewer rants that there’s bad language and too much sex in the book, that’s not going to be a deterrent to me. In fact, it just might make me hit that one-click purchase button!
Whatever the reason, when you get a one-star review (and you will) know you are in good company. Look at any author, even bestselling ones. They ALL have some bad reviews.
When you get a bad review, take a few minutes to think about it. Do you agree with what was said? If not, move on. If you think the reviewer has a point, think about what you might do differently in your next book.
Whatever you do, don’t lose any sleep over it. I know I didn’t.