January 27, 2014 at 7:46 am
So, you’ve written a book and it’s finally been published. There you are visiting the Amazon.com page of your special darling for the 58th time today just in case the rank has increased, and then you see it. A one-star review. A ONE-STAR REVIEW! How? Why? Who would do such a thing? How could someone go online and tell everyone your baby is ugly? It is the most horrible thing ever (after genocide and natural disasters and a thousand other horrible things).
1) Lean on your inner circle
It is important for every writer to have an inner circle of at least 2-3 friends who you can contact when someone has been nasty to you. Preferably these people should be other writers who have also experienced attacks on their work, be it as a blogger or a published author. Email these people when something bad has happened to you and they should be able to do several things. First, they will validate your feelings and assure you that, yes, you are completely right to be upset by this and, man, that reviewer is a real asshat. Second, they will empathize with you. They might even tell you their own horror stories which could be much worse. Third, if you’re lucky, they will also have a great sense of humor which they shall use to mock and ridicule your critic, which will leave you both laughing and feeling much better about the whole thing.
It is extremely important that the members of your inner circle keep your communications private. If any of what you say comes out in public you will look like a KRAZY PERSON with a capital K who needs to grow a thicker skin. Engaging a one-star reviewer in public is a very bad, no good idea. Just ask Anne Rice.
2) Read bad reviews of awesome books
Think of the book you love more than any other book. The book you wish you’d written. The book you’ve reread over and over. Now go read the one-star reviews for that book. I assure you they exist. There is someone out there who hated that book with as much passion as you loved it. They are the people who think To Kill a Mockingbird is the “worst book of all time” and that Pride and Prejudice is “a horrible and confusing story.” That doesn’t necessarily mean all bad reviews are without basis, but it does mean that not every critic is in line with popular opinion. Just because someone trashed your book doesn’t necessarily mean it’s garbage.
3) Congratulations! People are reading your book!
Congrats! Someone has read your book who feels absolutely no need to suck up to you or spare your feelings. That means someone other than your friends or family have read it! Of course, if it was one of your friends or family who left the one-star review you’ve got bigger problems than a one-star review. Be happy that your book is out there in the world meeting new people. Yes, some of these people are jerkwads who will feel the need to trash talk your book on the Interwebs, but it is also meeting people who will love it and ask it to hang out with the other cool books on their bookshelf which is where the real party is happening.
4) Your bad reviews make your good reviews look more legitimate
Have you ever stumbled across an Amazon.com page for a book that has forty five-star reviews? Didn’t you think that was kind of fishy? It seems rather unlikely that all forty people who read this book could have loved it that much. It seems much more likely that forty of the author’s friends left glowing reviews to support the book. Whether you like it or not, when a bad review appears on your Amazon.com page it casts the other reviews as more reliable. It makes it look like people are giving their honest opinion, even if that opinion is not a five-star one.
5) Visit LeastHelpful.com
LeastHelpful.com is a collection of “Daily Dispatches from the Internet’s Worst Reviewers” and it will make you laugh. It will also make you realize tons of people have gotten much worse, stupider reviews than you. Take comfort in that.
Hopefully after following these five steps you will feel much better about that one-star review that’s marring your Amazon.com page. My sixth unofficial tip about one-star Amazon reviews is this: Don’t read your one-star reviews! Seriously, why torture yourself? There’s nothing you can do about it. Why should you care what an anonymous person with little accountability thinks about your book? It’s better to focus on all the people who do connect with your book and whose lives are a little bit better for having read it.