April 20, 2016
The best writing thing that happened to me last year was a one star review on Goodreads. At the time, I of course was hurt. Yet, I’ve been writing long enough that my thick skin didn’t break, I didn’t consider quitting but I did go through the five stages of grief; anger, bargaining, disbelief, depression and acceptance. I shared my story of woe and did my best to keep writing. Then I got a five star review that took issue with the one star and the drama unfolded. I wisely stayed quiet. In fact I didn’t get into Goodreads over the holidays. The day job kept me plenty busy. Then in January I got a royalty check which was larger than I expected, nearly double.
I went looking into what drove sales and I can narrow down the response to that one star review. People who wanted to see if the book was really that bad bought and read the book. People who had already read it but hadn’t reviewed it stepped up to give it a heartfelt and thoughtful five stars. This polarized, opinionated conversation poured out on Goodreads and generated even more traffic and reviews.
My first novel came out in 2011 and has 37 text reviews. It still has a steady purchase rate as new readers discover me. Marriage Most Convenient has 24 reviews and it only came out in September.
Thank you Garrett for your detailed review, not because it was fair or accurate but because it clearly showed that I elicited an emotional response. I would much rather get five stars, of course but excitable one stars will do in a pinch. My story and voice doesn’t appeal to all readers and it shouldn’t. If I was looking for mass appeal or literary acceptance I wouldn’t write genre fiction.
Here are a few things that have also received low reviews. Feel free to give them some love.
Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, Beetoven’s 9th and Fred Astaire.