I read my first one-star review at 11.13pm this Tuesday evening.
Like every other ego crushing moment in my life, I can recall exactly where I was and precisely what I was doing. I was propped up in bed, dog on lap, iPhone in hand, stalking my book on Amazon.
‘Ooh, another three reviews today. Excellent,’ I mumbled, excitedly scrolling down and pondering whether Kate Hudson or Anne Hathaway would be best cast as Ellie when the movie version was commissioned.
Of course, it would be important that I retain the rights to approve the screenwriting, my mind continued to wander. When suddenly, like a pin advancing on a balloon (a nasty, rusty, tetanus-riddled pin), the words ‘Bored’ and ‘Silly’ came into view, alongside a solitary (and sheepish looking) One Star, whose expression I imagined to read: ‘Don’t blame me, I just work here.’
My eyes narrowed and my heart raced as I read on:
‘To many characters, to many drinks, to much sex talk. Hated it. No real story line..Don’t waste time on this one. Silly and boring’
‘Silly AND Boring?’ I argued, to no-one in particular. My dog raised an eyebrow. ‘How can too much sex and too many drinks be boring?’
NB my use of the word ‘too’ not ‘to’ as per fuckwit reviewer.
I was being defensive, I know. But there’s something quite aggressive about a one-star review. It’s a hate review. In my quest to provide lighthearted entertainment I had somehow inadvertently enraged a reader to such an extent, they deemed it necessary to take time out of their busy life, otherwise undoubtedly filled with the consumption of poetic literary prose, to logon to Amazon and type a warning to other potential readers. How had I done that?
I hadn’t written a pro-Nazi manifesto. It’s a chick-lit novel.
Once I’d taken a deep breath and reminded myself that it is impossible to be everything to everyone, I began to take a more objective perspective and considered where my defensiveness was coming from. If I was fully confident that my writing was good enough, I wouldn’t look to reviews for validation, would I? And the word ‘silly’ grated on me so much because deep-down, I knew that I would rather have written something, I don’t know, a little more…intelligent.
None of us like criticism, but unless we hide away and avoid ever having an opinion then it’s inevitable. In fact, without criticism, how could we ever hope to improve?
Besides, I just checked. I’m in good company; Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’ has nine one-star reviews on Amazon…
If you have time to waste, read more reviews (and add your own) for my ‘silly’ and ‘boring’ novel below: