Tuesday, January 17, 2012

So You Are A Star!

So your are a star? The Hudson Brothers wrote this amazing cool tune and it hit #21 in Billboard back in 1974.  Now that you are a star, what happens when you're only a one star?  What I'm referring to is the dreaded one star review for your books.

If you're a author, indie or traditional, and you've been published, then chances are you have received your first one star review. They suck don't they. I know this subject has been written about in plenty of blogs already and the rules of engagement when it comes to this very prickly subject. However my blog today is to toss my two cents in and support my amazing friends who are authors and know the sick feeling in the pit of their stomachs when they see that single digit hanging over their name and title of the book.

The consensus is DO NOT EVER reply to a reviewer unless you say thank you.
Even that may not be a good idea. Engaging with someone who's not favorable on your prose
usually will lead to even more bad words and hurt feelings. Understand the person who wrote it,
is stating an opinion, regardless if it's on or not.  Our initial reaction of course is to strike back when someone bashes your book, because it's hard to not feel like it's a personal attack on you.

Example of  mean and petty review: What a piece of garbage! This writer (if you call them that) has no business writing emails let alone a book. They should personally apologize to every person who wasted their time reading this blob of #$%^, and I think they owe everyone a refund since they can't get back the hours spent reading this mindless junk. The plot sucked, there's no way this would ever happen, blah blah blah...
Okay you get it...right.  That's not a review...that's just ranting and what they are saying is really more about them not your book.

Example of negative review.
Writer XYZ's, new novel, 123 is a story about a group of words being strung together to tell a story. While I loved the concept, I didn't feel any personal attachment to the numbers. However that being said, I can see how appealing this story will be to readers who enjoy numbers. While this book wasn't for me, I would think there are many others out there that will love 123 by XYZ.

Maybe that review was a bit Disney, but my point is you can not like a book without trashing the work and the writer.

Recently an indie friend addressed this on her FB and the way she summed it up really helped me to see it in a different light. Your book is a PRODUCT not a child. Even though you do have a very personal attachment to it, it's no different than a movie, song or sporting event. Now I absolutely am NOT a fan of sports. I get annoyed when I hear people going crazy over a touchdown, but my total dislike for sports does not affect the industry in the least. And I have to think all the people who scream at touchdowns and how happy it makes them to enjoy their love for sports. Who am I to rain on their parade? It's not for me so I don't join in. I feel no loss and am happy to seek something that makes me cheer and scream.

I always console my writer friends in the fact that every one gets one star reviews. Even Stephen King. Just because you get a one star review doesn't automatically reduce you to a failure, it may be something very constructive that can help you avoid a future problem in your writing.

When that bad boy one star shows up in future, think about when it came from.
Did it come from a reviewer who doesn't read your genre?
Make certain when you ask bloggers to consider your work that they read what you write about.
If it was a random reader, well there can be a hundred reasons why they didn't like it.
Taking the time to actually post a review means the person who posts it had a real reaction to your work, good or bad.  You can upset people sometimes with subjects you never dreamed would cause someone to go postal on you. If a child or animal is killed in your story....some people will react with extreme responses.
And then there are some people you cannot please. Next time the one star shows up, see what they are saying about other books they reviewed. If they're hating on everyone...then really it's not you it's them. If you are there only 1 star review...chances are they weren't mean or petty.

You're not a failure, you're a star, because you wrote a book, and you dared to publish and put yourself out there. That in itself is an accomplishment! No one ever said it was going to be a yellow brick road to OZ.
I finish this off with a line that a published playwright tells me all the time.

Writing ain't for sissies! So toughen up put your armor on and keep writing!


Anonymous said...

I have yet to receive a one-star review. However, I did receive an email from someone who did not care for my book but felt it was rude to leave a negative review.I thanked her for her honesty and told her I hoped her displeasure for this particular story would not deter her from checking out other books of mine.
Opinions-- everyone has them. If you let a couple of one-star reviews from a few readers get to you, you'll never survive the critics if you actually make it in the big leagues.
Develope thick skin now.

K.C. Neal said...

Great post, Thomas! You make an important distinction between different types of "bad" reviews... some of which really aren't bad at all. :)

River Jordan said...

Thank you for posting this, we all suffer from self-consciousness about our work. Its good to put it in perspective.

<3 :o)

Author Thomas Amo said...

Thanks Guys! K.C. you were the original inspiration behind this post, and then a very good friend of mine got their first one star and I wrote this to show my support to them.

Kendra that is a perfect way to respond and I think when reviewers do that like what was done with you, it shows they really are considerate of the author.

Thanks River, you're right we all do suffer from the self consciousness!

M. E. Franco said...

I know this may sound crazy, but I want my readers to feel something even if it is negative. I write to elicit emotions. Of course I hope that the feelings are good ones, but I would rather have someone react to my writing in a negative way than to finish my book and say "meh".

Grandma said...

I'm not a writer,but I am an avid reader.This was a good post not only for authors but for readers like me.I (myself) would never give a 1 star to any author,nor would I "rant".like you said,Thomas,it's an author's baby.I put what I liked n didn't like.I as a reader have respect for any author who is actually puttin' their self out there. Just sayin' ya'll