by Tamela Hancock Murray
When I’m thinking of buying a book, I do read the one-star reviews. There. I admitted it. But would I write one? No, and here are three reasons why:
The author is not a moneymaking machine, but a human. A mean reviewer won’t see the fallout of posting a nasty review, but writers cry, get angry, sulk and fall into depressions over one-star reviews. It’s not fair to use the Internet to vent at a target you think is safe because you are in a bad mood that day or just angry in general. I know I’m preaching to the proverbial choir because I don’t sense angry dispositions among our regular blog readers, but we’ve all seen reviews from people who need a chill pill. If a book happens to hit all your HATE IT buttons, take your chill pill before bequeathing a one-star review. Wait a day or two before spouting off. Or better yet, don’t.
Reviews are read by the author’s publishing team. I don’t believe one bad review will keep an author from gaining her next contract. But it doesn’t help, even though the publishing team possesses discernment in assessing the merit of all reviews. An author drafting his friends and family to give nothing but five-star reviews may bring up the idea that only the author’s friends are reading the book. And speaking of the publishing team…
A bad review insults everyone involved in the book, not just the author. This is a point especially to consider if you are a writer. The publisher and author are obvious, but it will be hard for you to find out who’s editing what. If you unwittingly insult most of the books edited by Mr. Major Editor, how likely is he to buy your precious words, no matter how many times he has lunch with Your Big-Time Agent?
If you don’t normally read the genre and find you don’t care for the book, why trash it? Some reviewers will admit they usually don’t read a certain type of book and proceed to criticize everything about it. I suggest chalking it up to a learning experience and saving vitriol for books you really know about.
But what if a book really and truly deserves a bad review? Find out what to do on next week’s post.
Do book reviews influence your book-buying choices?
Have your feelings ever been hurt by a review?
What have you learned from bad reviews, either as a reader or writer?