One star reviews… carving up a book!
When Mark Williams, one half of the team who wrote the brilliantly selling Sugar and Spice, created the introduction to my guesting on his blog, he probably had no idea that he would be raising the dead, quite literally, when he mentioned my infamous one star review for The Stumpwork Robe. I had successfully pushed it to that darkest depth of my consciousness that I call my oubliette. According to Wiki: ‘An oubliette is a form of dungeon which was accessible only from a hatch in a high ceiling.’ Well Mark had successfully opened the hatch and hauled that review out!
But here’s something none of you knew… there was another one on Amazon.co.uk that was almost the same and last year after a five star reviewer made a tetchy comment against Amazon about those reviews, I approached Amazon in respect of both. I only discovered recently that they had not only removed one of the one stars (and thank you Amazon, that was very kind) but also the comment from the five star reviewer written in response to the one star reviewer. I tried to determine who that chivalrous reviewer was; that person who had sprung to horse with lance to defend me but there was no trail and so I never could thank them.
The etiquette of reviews is an interesting one. The writer doesn’t thank those reviewers who love the books and definitely doesn’t engage with the bad ones. One keeps a stiff upper lip, in fact one ‘keeps calm and carries on’, because there are stories all over the internet about those who react badly and attract negative press. But I have to say here and now how grateful I am to anyone who has given authentic quality reviews on my books.
The fact that readers take the time to review at all is little short of remarkable. I’ve been a reader all my life and in the past, I’ve never reviewed novels I loved. But then I became a writer and realised how very important it was to a book’s future to let other readers know how good it was and so now I do review if I have loved it.
As to that pesky one star? Have a look below. Would you bother writing something like that?
|0 of 9 people found the following review helpful:1.0 out of 5 starsThe stumpwork robeWhoops! I thought I was buying a fantastic embroidery book, but in fact, it’s a novel! Should have read the details more carefullyPublished on 25 Mar 2009 by the Patchworker|
I’ve decided that its funny, that I should in fact look at it in a glass-half-full fashion. It’s made me think how very important a title can be in the marketing of a book. And there’s definitely another post coming up on that. I’ve also decided that the review provides a wonderful contrast to the others on both Amazon.co.UK and Amazon.com and for that its welcome to reside. What the hell!
NB: If you would like to review The Stumpwork Robe there is a coupon available for collection of the book for 50% off on Smashwords. Quote HG82X until 21 May.
Mark’s post reminded me of that infamous review’s existence, too. But it did prompt me to go along to the comments section and voice my protest to its inclusion in the star rating tally.
THANK YOU, Giselle!
Our review experience has been pretty bizarre. Sure, we’re delighted to have over one hundred four and five stars, but we’ve just notched up our fifteenth one star.
We make very clear what the book is about. It’s about a paedophile child-killer. It’s not for the faint-hearted. And while there’s no graphic scenes where the child victims are concerned, it pulls few punches in other areas.
Again, we spell this out on the book’s home page. The title is meant to be ironic, as the cover image and the blurb make clear.
In Sugar & Spice not all things are nice. It’s a crime-thriller, not kindergarden reading.
Our latest one star is from someone saying they would never have bought if if they had known.
What kind of person buys a book without looking at what is is about?
i think people can be petty, Mark. As you say, you make no bones about the difficult content of your novel and people are warned. So true: why not check out the caveats beforehand?
What happened to ‘caveat emptor’?
That doesn’t even qualify as a review, I suppose she was reviewing her own lack of common sense believing she was buying an embroidery book instead of a novel, Really??!! LOL
I will gladly give a review of The Stumpwork Robe, haven’t started reading it yet as I’m saving it for my summer vacations 🙂
Would love your review Summer, when ‘summer’ comes! I wonder if she will twig to the fact that she’s a bit of a star in her own right!
Thanks for the coupon! Hilarious review, sorry it also came with a 1-star. I think Amazon buyers don’t realize that they can return digital files. Maybe she wanted to warn her stitchery class? How bizarre. Good for you for keeping a sense of humor about it.
Pleasure, Stacey. I hope you enjoy it. I can’t do much else really but laugh, can I? And to be honest she’s given me a great post to chat on about with people. I owe her that!
I think that review is hilarious. It’s like asking somebody if they want eggs for breakfast and they say “Martian Zombie.” Makes no sense and makes the reviewer look like a, er (hmm, how to be polite) … a person of insubstantial brain function. Annoying that an off-topic 1-star can lower your “average,” I suppose, but nobody reading that review would allow it to affect their choice of book.
She’s done me such a favour… sold more books yesterday than in ages! How funny! Here’s hoping it doesn’t backfire as other writers have told of people who love to swoop on one star reviews and add to them just to be snarky!
Oh dear that person should be giving themselves a one star review for not checking the information!
I can’t wait to finish uni, then I can actually read for pleasure and do my own review!!
Clare… even though its fiction, you may get some embroidery ideas as you read. I can’t wait for you to finish uni either!
OK, that’s honestly pretty funny…and can only help you, I think! Why? When I read amazon reviews, I read some from the top, some from the middle, and some from the bottom. If my only choice of bad review is “The shipping was too expensive” or something equally irrelevant, I know it must be a pretty good book 🙂
There is certainly an interesting etiquette surrounding reviews–and clearly not a defined enough language about giving them! When a reader gives a review on Amazon, do they see themselves as reviewing the product–the book itself–or the service and delivery of expectations from the company–Amazon? One almost has to divorce the experience of buying from the item itself 🙂
Interesting thoughts on reviews and reviewing, Rowenna. My reviews when I do them are purely as a reader and the biggest criterion is the enjoyment factor. How absorbed do I become in the characters and the world? If I’m unaware of anything happening around me, its a winner!
On one level I think this ‘reviewer’s comment is pretty funny myself, and says more about the reviewer than the reviewed, but let’s not dismiss it… I feel there is a serious point to be taken from this, isn’t there?
I remember the author Diana Gabaldon having to change the title of the first of her amazingly successful ‘Outlander’ series. It was called “Cross Stitch” originally, for various reasons, but it was felt the American market might think it was an embroidery book and not purchase it.
Clearly some readers are going to be drawn or put off purely by the title,which is sad but true. When you could go and browse more easily in bookshops, of course, you’d pick up the book, look at a page or so and decide: no problem.
While the title “The Stumpwork Robe ” describes the content of the book very accurately,perhaps, in a sense, it does your wonderful book something of a disservice if it is to appeal to the widest possible audience. It gives no hint of the delights waiting in a book that captivates from its first page; a book which is exquisitely crafted, elegant in style and is,in my opinion, one which can appeal just as much to reader of fantasy and those who don’t generally read the genre. I am one such -hist fict is more my thing- but I was very intrigued and it was, eventally, seeing Pat Sweet’s realisation of the robe here that made me buy it, and I loved it. Had I read it electronically, I would have wanted a paper copy. Now, to me, “The Last Stitch” is a more intriguing title- and one which, funnily enough, doesn’t suggest needlework in the same way as the other title could be taken to do. It shouldn’t matter so much but perhaps it does- in these days particularly- and perhaps one reviewer’s comment could, inadvertently, tell you much about readership in these days.
I suppose it is about grabbing the attention of the widest readership in any way you can. And the book deserves it.
Whenever I read reviews on Amazon I do tend to do a lttle of what rowenna suggests. I will take certainly no notice whatever of a bad review that says irrelevant things. I saw the review in question and it intrigued me greatly! I googled the title and through following various leads rather blindly, came upon this blog, mesmered. That was a piece of luck, serendipity, whatever you call it. I am reserving “The Last Stitch” for my summer holiday reading! And I love the title of “A thousand glass flowers”.
A blessing for me I think because as a reader you have very succinct comment to make about writing and I appreciate it beyond measure… having no writers’ group to defer to.
You make such a valid point about titles and I hope to post on this in the next week and I seriously welcome your involvement then as well.
I’ve been thinking about this – the reviews. Is no reviews better than 1 to 5 star reviews? I’ve had hundreds of downloads from Smashwords but only ONE review… so I have no idea of how I’m doing! 🙁 Are the readers hating it or loving it? I have no idea.
So far I have only 3 reviews (the others are on LULU and Goodreads ) and they’re 4, 5 and 1 stars… how will I react when I get more 1 star (which, BTW, has only the 1 star and no comment…)?
You do well in finding it amusing, though! It was silly of that reader who picked up the wrong book to give it a one star because it was the wrong book…
it seems unfair to give a book a one star review because you the reader made a mistake about content! Especially if she/he bought it off Amazon where you can try a free sample first. D’oh!