Friday, April 05, 2013

Why I Like 1 Star Reviews

Well, I may not like them when I actually get one! (That clog is yet to drop, but I have received a couple 2 star ratings on Goodreads, albeit without comments. Oh, and I finally had someone on Amazon return an ebook for a refund. 99 cents, really? Ah well, finally got that out of my system. Okay, where was I?)

Oh yeah, I was saying I like 1 star reviews. In fact, they're the first reviews I read when I check out a book I might buy. And here are my two main reasons why.

  • First, some are downright humorous. The excuses people give for dissing a book! "This is a short story and I was expecting a novel!" "This is Christian fiction! And it has an agenda!" "I don't like 1st person POV." "This wasn't even worth free." Why didn't the reviewer just say, "I'm a dumbass and don't read blurbs, samples, or pay attention to what I'm buying."
  • Second, I want to know what people agree on as to a book's most egregious faults. If quite a few repeat the complaint about the work needing editing, or is full of typos, or formatting is bad, then that's actually helpful to me. I hate reading books with a bunch of mistakes. But if the main complaint is something that may or may not bother me (like POV or thematic elements) then that's another thing. In other words, if I know I might have a similar complaint, then that low rating might echo my concerns but if the issue is no big deal to me, then I'll move on to the 4 star ratings and see what's good about it.

Now, as a writer, I sympathize with Kat and her struggle with posting honest reviews. In fact, I won't post a review unless I feel it's a 4 or 5 star. People get too offended with 3 stars or lower. (I try not to be. My desired approach is to find out how I can improve as a writer, but knowing I can't please everyone with my story telling - and that I don't have to.) And in (another) fact, Amazon supposedly doesn't allow writers to post reviews (because it's seen as competitive?), although I don't think any of mine have been taken down.

All that to say, I like 1 star reviews. I just hope I don't get any.


  1. I agree with you on one-star reviews. Actually, even the part about changing my mind when I someday get one, and the 2-stars on Goodreads with no explanations.

    Anyway, I look at one-star reviews for the exact same reasons. The one humorous thing you forgot was people giving *books* bad reviews because there was a mess up in *shipping* or the ebook formatting was wonky--I remember seeing a review for a book the reviewer loved but the ebook had issues, and it was the fault of the library she borrowed it from, not even Amazon's fault!

    And thanks for the shout-out :).

    BTW--I've noticed a lot of 3-star reviews that are actually quite complimentary lately. It's interesting how everyone has their own scale for star ratings.

  2. I usually won't post anything as a 1-star or 2-star review for anyone I know personally, at least not publicly. And of course, I always post a reason for any review I give.

  3. Thanks you two. I've rated a few books without comments but realize I sorta owe the author an explanation. Well, maybe not owe, but it seems courteous. And yeah, 3 stars with positive aspects highlighted can be helpful. Hmm. Let me think on it. :)

  4. Lyn, the first three-star review I got stung, but I ended up communicating directly with the reviewer--and she asked me a slew of questions about Finding Angel (so it obviously made her think) and some of what we talked about inspired things in the second book (which the reviewer gave four stars), as well as the upcoming third book.

    And one of the other three-star reviews I got reads to me like a four-star easily.

    I have noticed that everyone weights things differently. I have my own scale for star ratings that doesn't necessarily match other people's. And I know you and I have discussed this--some reviewers rate on "what it is" not necessarily "in comparison." I review for "what it is", so if a book is meant to be a light read and succeeds at that and keeps me entertained even though it's not exactly Harry Potter, I may still give it four or five stars. But a book like Harry Potter or Daughter of Smoke and Bone--those are REAL five star books, and the meaning is much deeper, but I'm rating them based on a different scale, one that requires real excellence. That may be confusing, but that is why I think writing out an actual review rather than just giving stars is so important. Sometimes, I wish I could skip the stars and just explain how I feel about the book.

  5. I think it was Thumper who said, "If you can't say nothin' nice, don't say nothin' at all." Here's my favorite 1-star review, which I received on my short story "Fool's Gold": This would be more suited to a comic book than a novel. It was not even
    good fiction.What was the purpose of this book.
    A Coyote Cal comic book? Don't mind if I do!

  6. That's a great one star review - suggestion-wise, but not the snark. lol And for reviews without stars, you can do that at Goodreads, which I like.


Keep it clean and positive. (And sorry about the word verification, but the spmb*ts are out in full force!)