Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Indie Tuesday—The Positive Side to Receiving a One Star Review

by: @AuthorKeller

Most of us dream of that elusive publishing contract. Of having deadlines and planning a release party. Soon after our books launch we start checking our reviews. They tell you not to, but believe me, somehow, when you least expect it—you find yourself reading over some reviews. The first ones are great. Friend and family write sweet five star reviews that you want to share with the world. But one day you go back and look and there it is: the one star monster, staring you right in the eyes.
Now…take a deep breath and say this with me. Ready? A one star review is a good thing.

No, I have not lost my mind, but thank you for asking. I’m serious. That one star review might very well do more for your book than twenty five star reviews.

5 Points about One Star Reviews

A one star review…
…helps people trust the rest of your reviews.

Readers are very smart people. If all you have is a string of four and five star reviews then most people assume only your friends and family have read and reviewed your book (even if that’s not the case…that’s how it looks).

A one star review tells the world—look, people chose to read the book and didn’t like it. That’s a very good thing for you because people will start taking your four and five star reviews seriously once there is a one star review there as well.

…intrigues some people to read the book who wouldn’t have purchased it otherwise.
I have had people contact me telling me they weren’t interested in buying one of my books until they read a one star review about it. Sounds strange, right? People read those one star reviews first and sometimes the review is so ridiculous that a person thinks “I want to read the book now and see if I agree!”
Also, I have friends who have gotten one star reviews saying their books were “too religious” or “had too much kissing for a Christian book” and all of them have comments under that say things to the gist of: “thanks, I’m going to buy the book now. I like kissing in Christian books.”
…highlights areas of your writing that need strengthening.

This one is KEY for indie authors. As an indie or when you’re self-publishing as a hybrid you don’t have a team of editors helping to sharpen your writing. Instead, your readers become the ones who help your writing improve. Indie phenom Hugh Howey talks about this all the time. If you get seven one star reviews that all say your dialogue is choppy or unbelievable, well, it’s time to pull back and study how to better write dialogue for the next book.

…assists readers in making wise, personal reading choices.
Reviews exist not to make authors feel great about the book they wrote but to help readers decide if they will enjoy reading the book or not.
Not everyone will love your book and that's okay. Your story is meant to give the reader an emotional reaction—but person to person that reaction is going to differ. If you're doing it right people should have a strong reaction to your book. Both love and hate are strong reactions. The worst review you can get is "it was just okay." Keep that in mind as you write and release books. Not one book in the history of mankind has been liked by all—yours will not be the exception.
…remember, some people are mean for the sake of being mean.

Do I need to say more? Some people love being negative and get a kick out of giving a one star review and saying how much they hate a book without saying why. It’s okay. They’re allowed to post too.

In closing for fun I looked up some classics (and my favorite books) and am sharing snippets of some of their one star reviews. Enjoy! And remember to join the conversation.

Pride and Prejudice / Jane Austen
I would recommend people to keep away from such a horror. It shouldn't have the right to be called a "novel."

Please, this was an utterly unconvincing and boring novel.

Jane Eyre / Charlotte Bronte
The book was a boring story, even for a classic. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone.

Watership Down / Richard Adams
This book, by Richard Adams, was pointless.
Is this a classic? I don't think so, even Dr. Seuss was more creative than this.
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe / C.S. Lewis

I bought the book to have something nice to read to my grandkids. I had to stop, however, because the book is nothing more than an advertisement for "Turkish Delight," a candy popular in the U.K.

I found Lewis' writing style to be downright annoying and, honestly, quite poor.

@AuthorKeller shares how a one star review can be a great asset for an author #amwriting #publishing #bookreview - Click to Tweet!

The Positive Side to a One Star Review - Yes, a positive side exists! w/ @AuthorKeller #publishing #amwriting - Click to Tweet!

Jessica Keller holds degrees in both Communications and Biblical Studies. She is multi-published in both Young Adult Fiction and Inspirational Romance and has 100+ magazine and newspaper articles to her name. Her latest Indie release is a Young Adult Fantasy - Saving Yesterday. You can find her at www.JessicaKellerBooks.com, on Twitter @AuthorKeller, on Tumblr, or on her Facebook Author Page. She lives in the Midwest with her amazing husband, beautiful daughter, and two annoyingly outgoing cats that happen to be named after superheroes.


  1. Thank you for this post! I enjoyed this different perspective and it encourages me to be absolutely truthful in my reviews, even if I didn't enjoy what I read.

  2. Jessica, you've opened my eyes about one-star reviews and I appreciate your more startling insights.