Thursday, October 10, 2013

Someone Needs to Review One-Star Reviewers


A Snarky Introduction to the People Who Write One Star Reviews

by Cindy Jones


The good thing about learning to process criticism from a writing group is that it prepares an author for the far more brutal feedback that comes with publication:  Reader Reviews.  The world needs balanced critical reviews for a lot of good reasons, but nobody needs the unbalanced, ruin your day, one-stars that can affect a book's sales as well as an author's future publishing prospects.  Surely checks and balances are lacking in a system that gives anyone with internet access power to take out their personal problems on an innocent book.  I don't know how to remedy the situation, but I do know some of the Unbalanced Reviewers you might meet in the One-Star Reviewing Department:       

Sue New-here writes short reviews—and there’s a reason.  She has no experience writing reviews.  She’s all about the stars.  If you check out her other reviews, as Amazon invites you to do, you won’t find any.  We happen to know that Sue has a personal connection with the author as well as shady motivation.  On the flip side, Sue also works the Five Star Review Department, generously helping her author friend, critique partner, etc.  When she's in the Five Star Mode, a writer cannot have too many friends like Sue New-here.

Mia Meh writes reviews claiming she could not summon the energy or enthusiasm to finish the book. Where she finds the energy or enthusiasm to write a review that will influence sales of a book she has not read is a legitimate question.  Perhaps Mia should begin a vitamin supplement to boost her energy or take up a more exciting hobby, like powerboat racing.
 
Ali Apology always begins her attacks with smug regret for the abysmal review she is about to bestow.  She really really wanted to like the book but alas cannot because (pause for effect) it didn’t meet her expectations.  Dear Ali:  It’s not about you.  Take a page from Lord David Cecil who said the reviewer is responsible for finding the genius in a work of literature (or something like that), not condemn a work simply because it failed to match your preference profile.  

Fiona Frustration never made good on her writing aspirations therefore all published books are a personal affront.  She demands compensation for the hours of her life wasted reading the book under attack and invokes her one-star weapon to finish it off.  She will occasionally upgrade her reviews to two stars because she thinks it gives her reviews more credibility.
  
Reba Wrath’s one star review is a cry for help.  Throwing the book against the wall and stabbing the author's star ranking might improve her mood for a few minutes but it will never compensate for the deep personal problems that plague her.  There is no way to know what will trigger Reba's wrath and the only way to guard against this kind of self-hatred is to ignore it.    

Have you encountered any One-Star Reviewers?  If so, please share details in the comments section.  

And, if you would like to read the prequel to this post, Writing Critique:  Survival Tips For Taking The Hits, click HERE.  


Cindy Jones is the author of My Jane Austen Summer, the story of a young woman who thinks she may have realized her dream of living in a novel when she is invited to participate in a Jane Austen Literary Festival.  Her problems follow her to England where she must change her ways or face the fate of so many of Jane Austen’s secondary characters, destined to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.



   

29 comments:

  1. My first book is being released in 17 days...needless to say, I'm keeping this list handy! Eek...! Thanks Cindy :)

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    1. Congratulations, Amanda! I wish you a happy pub day and a long shelf life full of balanced reviews!

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    2. Good luck on your book, Amanda!

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  2. I've never given a one-star review ( though I have come across books that deserve one). I have written three-star reviews, but ONLY for very well-known authors who I'm sure do not read or care about the reviews—and they make enough millions that a disappointing review shouldn't hit them in the pocketbook. Besides those few, I only comment if I can give a glowing 4- or 5-star review. I want to help writers, not make them cry.

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    1. Thank you for your balanced reviews, Kerry Ann! Keep them coming!

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    2. God bless you, Kerry Ann. Writers only want to cry at the hands of their characters...

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    1. Thanks, Brenda. I'm not particularly comfortable operating at this level of snarkiness...

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  4. I give this 5 stars! I love when you get to check out the other reviews and you see their lack of enthusiasm about ANYTHING.

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  5. I have read a few books that didn't do much for me, but I have never read one that I would only give one or even two stars to. I love reading 5 star books and with the huge number of awesome books available, there is no reason for anything less.

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    1. Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever reviewed a book. I give all my critique to fellow writers in feedback sessions. You are right about the huge number of awesome books!

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  6. Great blog! I don't think I've ever gotten a one-star review, although I've had my share of two-star reviews. The best two-star review I've ever received is for THE APRIL TREE, which the reader said was too painful for her. At least I know the book touched her in some way.

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    1. I'm going to read The April Tree. Thanks for reminding me!

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  7. Love this blog!
    I review on Goodreads to SUPPORT writers. So if I don't like a book, I don't review it. Like the old adage: If you can't say something nice, shut the heck up!

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    1. I couldn't agree more! Thank you, Leslie!

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  8. Cindy! Brava on the comedic post. Loved it. I've never left a one star review because I don't want to give anyone stabby pain. The two one star reviews one of my top selling book received seemed to be Mia Meh and Fiona Frustration. I only check reviews every couple of months because I'm afraid it would become an OCD thing with me. But, hey, not everyone is going to like what we do or be "right" for them. I love your descriptions.

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    1. Thank you, Malena. Mia and Fiona get around!

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  9. LOVE! So funny and true.

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  10. Fun post, Cindy! The best review advice I've ever seen: If you loved my book, please say so! If you didn't, find one you did love and say something great about it!

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  11. Oh Cindy great post and this is from a "paid reviewer" who loathes bad reviews and loathes even more the types of reviewers posted above. In my personal and professional reviewing life I have NEVER read a book worth a one star review and very few two stars. If I'm reviewing for a magazine/publication and I must review a book I dislike there are two very important things I do before writing said review.
    1) why didn't I like it-if it was personal then I look critically at the content, context and style and review from that. for example there was a sci-fi and I love sci-fi that I reviewed that just didn't float my boat because of all the minutiae but guess what true sci-fi lovers LOVE that stuff so I had to put aside my personal feelings.
    2) if it was the writing then it's much harder for me to post a less than glowing review but I always do it with honesty and without author bashing.

    I in fact look for 2 star reviews in the publications I review for and request copies from the publisher and usually these works deserve much higher stars then they got from the "editorial reviewer" in the magazine.

    sorry for this going on an on
    Great post!!

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  12. Thank you, Debbie! I appreciate your commitment to balanced reviewing and the fact that you took the time here to explain how you go about it. I will send you my next book for a review!

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  13. Oh my God, I just left a long comment and the Interwebs ate it. Basically, I LOVED this post, Cindy!! I'm always grateful and honored when someone leaves a thoughtful review of something I wrote. :)

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  14. Sorry about your comment, Jess! P.S. I'm looking forward to reading your book I bought on BookBub a short while ago.

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  15. There is another offender as well - Clueless Claire - who simply doesn't understand the intent of reviews in general and/or the impact of her words! I've talked to folks who thought that because the book wasn't what they thought it was, or it simply wasn't their cup of tea, they were obligated to rate it 1-2 stars. Ugh. They may explain this in the review itself, but that lonely star does more damage than all the (ill)reasoning in the narrative. Goodreads, Amazon, and other sites should post a free Guide to Writing Reviews!!

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    1. Thanks for the heads-up about Clueless Claire and even more for the idea--a Guide to Writing Reviews. What a positive step!

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