Thursday, August 16, 2012

So You Got a One Star Review...

Yes, it is the bane of an author's existence. The dreaded one star review. Someone didn't like your book. How can that be? You worked so many hours on that book your buns became molded to the shape of your chair. You wrote, and re-wrote, and slaved away for months...maybe even years.

And someone just left you a bad review! Unthinkable!

But wait, before you go into a tirade and tear up all your unfinished manuscripts, vowing to never again throw your pearls out into the public for desecration...take a deep breath. Don't do anything rash. And whatever you do, don't go post about it on your favorite online forum. Those threads usually end up with some well-intentioned writers saying horrible things about the reviewer. (Remember, these reviewers use the Internet too. The last thing you want is a mob of angry readers targeting you because you started a reviewer bashing thread.)

Every author will need to deal with a one star review sooner or later. That's just part of this whole writing gig. And I admit, it stinks. Some reviews make you feel like giving up, or question your ability to write. Some might even make you feel depressed.

Never fear, I've got the perfect thing to make you feel better. When you've gotten that horrible, terrible review saying your characters are cardboard and your writing is worse than a first grader's, come on over here and read these:

"I thought that this book was totally dumb from beginning to end. It had absolutely no plot whatsoever." - One star review left on Carrie, by Stephen King

"This book is the worst book ever. The only reason a person should read this book is if they are forced to or they like to hear about thieves." - One star review left on Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens

"that book is the most boring i have ever read in my life. i regret that i read it and i suggest everybody not reading it. reading that book is absolutely waste of time !!!" - One star review left on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, by JK Rowling

"The story read like all the sentaces has been thrown it a blender and then reassembled into a book." - One star review left on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll

"...I generally try to find something redeeming about books, but I honestly have nothing good to say about this drivel. Meyer writes as if the reader is an absolute idiot who has to be told every sing tiny little thing; we are never given the chance to interpret what's going on in the characters' heads. There is no mystery, no intrigue, no suspense. The characters themselves are cut-and-dried, stereotypical, and maddeningly unoriginal." One star review left on Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer

 ""The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" is a tedious, exasperating, and mind-numbing story. This is my first Mark Twain book, and it's surely to be my last, as I was sorely disappointed. While the grammar and dialect are supposed to be written realistically, I found it cumbersome. The adventures changed constantly, and if Twain had written with one adventure in mind, then my attention span would not have diminished. When Tom Sawyer entered the book permanently, I became irritated, because when he arrived, the story became prolonged and trivial. I feel I wasted my time reading this book. I do not recommend." One star review left on The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain

"I agree with the other negative reviewers. There is nothing remotely satisfying about any of these books. Not only is the premise of the first book rather disgusting, the second two are just horrible. I had to force myself to finish the third one. I'm posting this here in the first book to save readers some valuable time!" One star review left on The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

"A beautifully illustrated book based on poor scientific knowledge. Butterflies do not come from cocoons - moths do. When butterfly caterpillars pupate, they do not spin silk to make a cocoon. If you want your child to learn inaccurate science, use this book with them." One star review left on The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle

One last note. I'm not delighting in the bad reviews left on other books. It just helps to know that even the best books get bad reviews. Don't give up writing. Bad reviews happen. Even to the best of them.


  1. Great post, Victorine! It makes me grateful for having received four to five stars for my work but it also makes me yearn for more exposure and reviews. Even bad reviews might serve as a double-edged sword!

    It also appears that some of the negative reviews do not offer clear reasons on the reviewers' part of why they hated a book, or their reasons are just stupid. The only one-star review I find myself agreeing with is the one for Stephenie Meyer's TWILIGHT, only negative attention to that book has spawned several funny parodies. :)

  2. Great post.

    Isaac Asimov's response to bad reviews is timeless. "From my close observation of writers... they fall into two groups: 1) those who bleed copiously and visibly at any bad review, and 2) those who bleed copiously and secretly at any bad review."

    But at some point I believe most authors simply have to stop reading reviews. Sherrilyn Kenyon had a book last year that was ripped by her fans where she received more 1 star reviews than 5 star reviews.

    As an author I'd love to make all my readers happy, but that's not possible. Each person reads a book from their own perspective and leaves the work with a different take than another might.

    I'm always amused when I read comments like, "Well, I wouldn't have written it that way." To which, I think, that's the author's book. Not yours. He/she wrote it in the way that pleased them or how the characters directed.

    And I agree with you, "Don't give up writing. Bad reviews happen. Even to the best of them." That's a great way to look at it.


  3. Thank you.

    It is a lot of work to write a book. It would be nice if those who review remembered to be kind. That's all we really want.

  4. Awesome post Victorine! Although it's not a magic bandage, knowing that other great works have received negative reviews helps lift a poor keyboard monkey's spirits. :)

  5. So well said, and thanks for giving us examples. I'm saving them to review on a hard writing day. I also like Danielle Steel's take on a less than multistelar review: "A bad review is like baking a cake with all the best ingredients and having someone sit on it."

  6. Good grief, never had a review quite that bad, lol, nice job, made me laugh out load.
    When I do a review I generally at least try to be nice, there is always something good to be found in everything in life :-)
    No one should give up writing just because of a few bad reviews, they should always remember, one man's hates are another man's loves!
    Have fun and thanks for the blog entry :-)

  7. Your post was just what I needed. Got a bad review,but feeling better. I agree with Leonard,I have read where some author's suggest not reading reviews. Easier said than done. I look forward to one day mastering that aspect of writing. Thanks for the great post and the comments were helpful too. Can't beat self up over one or a few bad reviews. Just have to keep writing :)

  8. Thank you for this post. It really put one star reviews in perspective. I don't feel as bad anymore.

  9. said ""The story read like all the sentaces has been thrown it a blender and then reassembled into a book." - One star review left on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll". They had blenders back in those days? (;-)

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