The Coveted Five-Star Review (the dreaded one-star review)

Since my novel debuted two weeks ago, I’ve received some wonderful feedback. Of course, all of it has come from my friends. Not that they’re disingenuous, not at all. But they know me, and they like me, and even though I believe they’re being truthful in their praise of “Chocolate for Breakfast,” I’m interested in what a stranger would say about the book.

About a year and a half ago, I began reading e-books on my iPad, through the Kindle app. I connected my existing Amazon account with my iPad, so when I buy an e-book, it goes directly there. I do buy e-books for the most part now. Nothing against print books. Still love them. But I prefer the convenience of shopping at home, and I do have limited space to shelve books. And (note to book printers) with my e-reader I can increase the font size and put less strain on my eyes.

I purchased an e-book I thought would be interesting, but I’m not going to name it here. Because it was not good. It wasn’t. A ton of misspellings and grammatical errors, which really do detract from the book. I get hung up on the mistakes. This was a memoir, and the author clearly had issues. He portrayed himself as a victim, even though forty-odd years had gone by. He used his book as therapy, and it showed. I wrote a brief review on Amazon, and gave him two stars. I tried to be kind in my review, but still gave him only two stars. Well, he replied to my review, and he wasn’t very nice about it. I held fast and did not comment on his reply, but last week I deleted the review. Why? Because it really served no purpose. I felt that, in this case at least, my review of his book wasn’t necessary.

Yesterday I read a blog by a woman who had read and reviewed the newest release by an established author. Apparently, some readers, who adored the author’s previous books, were disappointed with this latest novel, and some readers gave the book one star in their Amazon reviews. Others reacted, some not very well, to these one-star reviews. The resulting firestorm hurt a lot of people, and in the end, it could hurt the author.

A bad review by a good reviewer can help an author, if that author is able to take constructive criticism. Look, my book is not going to be a winner with everyone, I know that. And I fully expect to see reviews that are not as positive as what I have now, from my friends. Positive reviews, especially at the outset, can really help an author gain visibility online, and I’m grateful for every one of my reviews. Poor reviews can help eventually, but may do real damage to the author’s credibility and reputation.

In my opinion, if I really didn’t like a book, I probably just won’t write anything at all. It’s what I hope my readers would do, too.