In Celebration of the One Star Book Review

In the spirit of sharing my writer experience and journey with you, today I got my very first one star review for The New Mrs D – in Australia where its promotion at $0.99 has just begun. Here is the review in all its glory. I am now author-initiated.

Mrs D

At the same time, I discovered The New Mrs D has gone to no 2 in  No 1 in OZthe Amazon 100 Best Sellers Humour chart, no 2 in the Women’s Fiction Best Sellers chart and is currently – as I type – the Best Selling Kindle eBook on the entire Australia site.

I was expecting a mixed bag of reviews. Comedy is so subjective, therefore I am surprised to have had the luxury of going for two whole months without a one star review. I have held my breath before opening each new addition, waiting for the worst; the slap in the face. But now it has landed, I can confirm that to me it feels no worse than all of the publisher rejections The New Mrs D received. I feel pretty okay to be honest. And of course, am fully aware there will be loads more to come in my career.

Yet for today, on Amazon Australia at least, my book is outselling ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’. I understand the Australian site is quite new and small at the moment, but this still feels like a lovely and significant achievement. There is nothing to do but remind yourself of one important thing: the rejections and the bad reviews are just people’s opinions. If they were all bad, then perhaps I would rethink this new commitment to writing. Happily, they are not.

So to new writers, established writers and aspiring writers I say this: You HAVE to concentrate on the positive to keep going. I love to write and I don’t intend to let anyone discourage me. I do think it is important to look at the negative comments as learning tools and search for common aspects in order to inform future works. All I wished to achieve was to make a living, pay the bills and have room to breathe by doing that which I love and I intend to just keep plugging away at it. A terrific writer who is far more experienced than I – author of ‘The Humans’ Matt Haig – put it so well on his Facebook page today:

matt haig

The love of writing and being able to put that work out into the world to be read in itself is intoxicating. I’m 43 and at last and for the first time ever, I love what I am doing. I think it takes a lot to put your creation – your heart – out into the world, particularly knowing you are open to public criticism. Take heart. I did a quick scout of some of my all time favourite books on Amazon, to see what their one star reviews were like. Turns out, these books are all boring too 😉

Let’s have a one star review party!

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
great expectations
Great Expectations – by the great ‘Charles Darwin’ 😉
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert - a book I unashamedly ADORED
Eat, Pray, love by Elizabeth Gilbert – destroying civilisation as we know it according to Voldermort.
One of my favourite reads of last year - 'Life After Life' by Kate Atkinson
One of my favourite reads of last year – ‘Life After Life’ by Kate Atkinson What is this? First she has a life, then another life?!? This is NOT as advertised.
jingl;e
Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling – Rubbish! I’m so angry I leaned on my keyboard! Go away, thank you.
pride and p
Damn you Amazon! I came here to buy a horse head mask and accidentally bought a Jane Austen Classic! Clearly deserving of one star and, if Jane is reading this, ‘can I exchange please?’

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52 thoughts on “In Celebration of the One Star Book Review”

  1. I think it shows that all writing is subjective, that you have a great sense of humour and that if it’s good enough for Dickens…

  2. Great post! I just read To Kill A Mockingbird and went to rate it on Goodreads. I was surprised to see a one star review, especially as I was giving it a five star! But as I read the lengthy comment, it seemed to me that the reader came from an entirely different personal perspective. So, where I had at first thought “Huh?” when I saw the one star, after I read it I could see that the reader’s history couldn’t at all identify with the world in which Scout lived or the subtle transition of her maturing and “coming of age.” So, we all have a wide range of readers in our audience and it’s a given that some will not like what we write. No big deal. Keep writing!

    1. You’re so right Mary. I for one see my review as a tip for the author when I have enjoyed a book. But I don’t like to leave bad reviews if I haven’t because more often than not I have chosen something I thought I would enjoy but it hasn’t been to my taste when I’ve gotten down to the reading. I don’t think it is fair to comment on that work when it is just my opinion. As Denise says, if it’s poorly researched, badly edited etc and maybe people aren’t getting value for money in buying it, it could be worth a bad review. Not that I have left one. I’d rather say nothing than do that to a fellow author, knowing the hard work and dedication that goes into writing a novel.

  3. Many congratulations on both your achievements! Sadly, I’m yet to experience the 1-star review (just a 2-star for me). That said, I’ve had the equivalent of a 1-star to my face from a friend. I, too, took the view that it was ok, that reading is subjective – all while trying not to cry.
    Just to reassure you, the 1-star reviewer is very wrong.

  4. You’re doing pretty well on the reviews side on Amazon. 18/27 5 stars!

    I don’t get 1 star reviewers who give it 1 star for not being funny. Cos that means then it’s just not to their taste. I can understand 1 star for being poorly researched or characterised, or just not describing scenes properly and consistently, cos that’s the writer’s fault. But not cos they have a different sense of humour.

    I enjoyed reading and reviewing Mrs D. Someone else has just asked me to do the same for their self published book and I don’t know what to say to them cos it is simplistic and just not very exciting. You are way better than most self published. Keep going and believe, you are going a great job!

    1. Thank you Denise, that is lovely of you. What is also lovely is the fantastic support which I forgot to mention here in this post. The online community has really made the whole process so much easier. I’m so grateful – and to you for your lovely review!
      I agree with you; I don’t understand poor reviews from people that don’t ‘get’ the humour in a book. We are all of us different in our tastes and what makes us laugh. Still, I feel grateful – grateful to have passed that place today that all writers most likely come to after they have published their work. It’s done, dusted and over with. May we all keep smiling and most importantly, keep creating! 🙂 x

  5. One star reviews are the exception that prove the rule. You have a great attitude. Also love the quote you included from Matt Haig–so true. And once again it’s nice that you continue to encourage your fellow writers struggling out here. I am just at the starting point of finding an agent–fun . . .

    1. Amy, my replies to people on this thread seem to be all over the place but I hope you see this. Thank you for your comment and seeing as you are in submissions as I was this time last year, I want to say this: if you know this is what you want to do tell yourself you are not going to let rejection, criticism or others lack of belief stop or stall you. That’s the biggest mountain I think. I wish you all the luck in the world x

  6. There will always be naysayers. Even Charles Darwin has his detractors. PMSL! I for one found The New Mrs D absolutely hilarious. But I never found The Office particularly funny. Art, writing and life itself is subjective – if we all liked the same thing we’d be pretty boring as a species :).

    1. Absolutely. And oh my goodness, I had so much fun writing it. Some of the volcano story stuff was gifted to me by actual volcanology professors. Hilarious! I wasn’t a fan of The Office but I loved Extras 🙂 Yes, totally subjective. Thank you x

  7. I think you’ll often find that a person who’s left a one star review does it ALL THE TIME. They are just grumpy people…lol. I think all authors deserve at least a 2 star for having written and completed a novel in the first place!

    And, congratulations on sales! That’s awesome! 🙂

    1. Hi Gisele, I have suddenly had an upsurge of blog comments so I often miss a few but I do come back! Thanks for your kind comments and for stopping by. I do agree, I would never bother leaving a one star review it isn’t fair really. I just had another who said they only read three chapters! Well then, don’t comment! Ah well, so is life 🙂 Keep smiling x

  8. And can be summed by saying ‘one man’s meat’ etc! I love books that jump from past to present, some find them confusing. I always write from lots of different character POVs because that’s what I love to read; some don’t. For my last but one book I have a few reviews that say that despite it being long (122K words), there is not one unnecessary sentence, or ‘boring bit’, but also one that says there is ‘lots of exposition to wade through’. Horses for courses, you say tomato, etc etc etc! Congratulations on your success, and may it continue 🙂

    1. Thank you Terry, I hope it does but you just don’t know. What will continue is my commitment to writing regardless. There is another scary thing I’ve noticed and that is that some reviews look to me almost like they are meant to attack the author (not in this case for myself) but it is so easy to do. All you need is a few enemies in your personal or professional life and boom – book sales affected. Very worrying. I’d like to see reviews where people clearly haven’t read the book taken down. It has been quick to happen with any family members of mine who HAVE genuinely read and enjoyed the book but found they are unable to rate it.

  9. Hahaha …Oh My. Loved this. I have 2 (I think) one star reviews for Diamonds & Dust. BOTH are on Amazon.com , which says it all: the book is a pastiche of Victorian literary form, and NOT a Romance With Crinolines. One of the reviewers only read the first few pages ..presumably from the Free Download, so ahem..that doesn’t count. If you put your work out there, you will get abuse. But hey, people walked out of a performance of Beethoven’s Seventh symphony. And Stravinsky’s Rite Of Spring ballet was booed off the stage. General public? What do they know? Absolutely nothing!

  10. Aha! Carol, I would just like to reassure you that your one star review from ‘Heather’ wasn’t me! LOL! It is disgraceful, I think, to even bother to comment when you have only read five pages. I can’t tell you how many books I have loved that I’ve struggled past the first few pages (even chapters) in. I personally don’t like to leave poor reviews and cringe reading them because I feel so sorry for the authors. My review is my tip to the writer for giving me such a great read. I’m not going to think my opinion and personal taste should influence a buyer. I didn’t know that about Beethoven and Stravinsky. Brilliant! Thank you so much for the words of encouragement. XX

  11. One realises that there is something wrong with the reviewing system, when the only other other thing the reviewer has ever past judgement on is a book on training ferrets. In fact one of my reviewers gave a box set of novels five stars before she’d even read it saying she KNEW they were going to be great. Obviously the gift of prophecy comes with every pack. Yes, really. Amazon is as much to blame as anything else and I notice now on the dot com site that reviewers don’t even have to write a minimum of twenty words and more. One of my classic reviews said that the reader didn’t like the way my heroine changed over the course of the novel. The only revenge is to keep publishing the books. Good luck with that. .

  12. Congratulations on the success of The New Mrs D! It’s on my Kindle, I’ve started reading it and it will definitely be getting loads of stars from me! You’ve written a book that is funny but different from what we usually find within the genre. I recently watched a documentary about the way pornography is reaching the younger generation and how detrimental it is to their development. As for the 1star – I’m so pleased you didn’t take it to heart because all authors get them. I’ve seen that on Goodreads with classics too that have been read for over a century and stood the test of time. I got a 1star review on Amazon UK where the reviewer didn’t even right a sentence – just three words and I checked to see if she had reviewed any other books; no, just mine. I’m not even sure she read the book and I think that the public are used to seeing one-star on amazon and ultimately make their own mind up. My hairdresser said that she knows which one-star review to ignore when we were chatting about holidays a few months ago 🙂 Wishing you continued success x

    1. Thank you so much Maria. I think you have just enlightened me some more on another reason why I haven’t taken it to heart. I’ve had quite a lot of messages from people I don’t know and from all over the world telling me how much they’ve enjoyed the book, associated with the character and congratulating me on addressing the porn issue this way. I think people would not go out of their way to do this if they read a book by a new author they don’t know and thought it was tripe. I wanted to write something on this subject because I hate the way it is trivialised generally and how unhappy partners of regular porn users are made to feel it is their problem. It’s a much wider issue in very many cases.
      I was speaking to a male family member at the weekend who told me he had only read the free opening chapter but felt my main character was ‘blaming everyone else but herself’ and added, ‘she shouldn’t have let herself go.’ I told him his was exactly the attitude I hoped to challenge and offered him the rest of the book for free. My idea was to bring one woman’s story to the table and put forward another side.
      On the comedy aspect I am in no doubt that my style and humour isn’t for everyone. It is however going to remain with me in my writing. It is that which makes me ‘me’. Trying to change my style to fit the genre and get a book deal just doesn’t satisfy me. I’m back to writing something else in the same style.
      I’m sure you are quite right, the readers can tell a bad review that is either made up or, in this particular case, indicative of someone’s personal taste. Thank you so much for reading my book and for your lovely, supportive comments. It is exactly this that helps me celebrate the one star review 🙂 x

  13. I admire the fact that you are not following the trend and raising awareness of such a relevant issue. I’ve just re-read what I previously wrote; hadn’t had my coffee and was not fully awake ‘right a sentence’! instead of ‘write’. I should proofread before I press post 🙂

  14. It’s amazing how no book that has been well read and well reviewed can escape the one-star review. You can’t please everyone, especially with humour. Write on…

  15. As always, I’m left chuckling away to myself after reading one of your posts… and this was about a Meaney McSpoilerpants one star review! You have a fantastic attitude Heather and as others have said, sharing it with the rest of us is really empowering. That horse’s head thing is hilarious btw :)) xx

  16. I just got my first one star review after my book had been on the shelf for a year and a half. It was ten words. “This book was segmented and I felt a little confusing.” Okay. I get it, no biggie. I have three and a two star review that says worse. But I have 33 reviews of high praise. Temporarily, Amazon had posted all my star ratings without reviews. I was ecstatic there were seven more five stars and no ones or twos.

    I am writing a new genre piece. It’s different for me. Two beta readers out of ten have said they could not relate to characters or settings. It’s regional crime fiction. Not everybody is going to “get it”. I’m good with that.

    1. Hi there, thank you for stopping by. I think Dylan Hearn put it nicely on his blog when he said: ‘not everyone will like your book, it’s not personal.’ Although, I have seen circumstances where bad reviews have been extremely personal and I think these should be reported and taken down. There is a trend of ‘author baiting’ in some instances. It isn’t the case for me so far, (I don’t think). But so true, not everyone will like what you write and how you write but don’t ever let that stop you being original. No one would ever produce anything different if we let our fear of being judged take over. Just followed your blog, it is beautiful!

      1. Thanks Heather. That is so true. I shy away from sharing anything I have written for many of the same reasons, fear of being judged, yet, when I am writing I am looking for ways to approach things originally. If we all wrote by formula, it would make for some pretty boring reading.I have learned to shrug off the negative reviews. I had a friend who was baited with bad reviews from one person on all of his books. It was tragic, and most deliberate, but Amazon wouldn’t remove them.

  17. Congrats on doing so well with your book, Heather. I swung by from Dylan’s blog and I love your writing. I nearly spit out my tea when I read the quote in your header. Too funny! 🙂

    1. Hi Sue, sorry I’m so late with a reply. technology has been letting me down recently (this means I smashed my window to the world – ie mobile phone). Thanks so much and sorry about the spilled tea thing! I hope you stay a while 🙂

  18. Hahahahhaa. Thanks for sending this my way Heather! And thank gawd I’ve finally found a blogger in my same age range. I feel like I’m in the land of 20somethings!

      1. No, but sometimes it feels like I’m surrounded by senior citizens and 20somethings expats. I suppose it’s good to be in the middle!

  19. What a great blog! Thanks for the much-needed laugh and congratulations of the success of Mrs D. I think a one star review is a badge of honour – all the best books have them 🙂

    1. Hi Katrina, a badge of honour is a great way to look at it. We should all get together and have a party over getting our first instead of the book launch, lol! Really happy to give you a laugh and thanks so much for stopping by 🙂 xx

  20. I love how you chose to celebrate this instead of having a pity party. You’re right that reviews are someone else’s opinion. I first of all like to see that people are reading my work, then take it from there assuming they even leave a review! Certainly it’s part of the life, that of being a writer, and something we just have to learn to deal with. There are tons of people out there bemoaning bad reviews instead of just getting on, nice to see one who’s not. 🙂

    Pretty funny examples you’ve provided as well. What a disappointment for the horse-head buyer. I would have been so bummed if I couldn’t convince my daughter it was alive too, and no room to breathe? Gosh that’s terrible, but I think it should fit my parrot quite well. Now if he can’t fly with it on I’m going to be mad.

    😉

  21. absolutely wonderful news for you to be topping the charts. I haven’t received my first 1 star yet, but when I do, I hope I can remain calm and not make it worse. Kudos to you.

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