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My Ebook Is Getting One-Star Reviews!

April 13, 2020

“Who are the motherf***ers that gave me a one-star rating?”

I admit, that was my first reaction when I saw the one-star reviews for my ebook.  I’m not proud of my initial reaction.  I’m not proud of the one-stars either.

I didn’t even know about the one-star ratings until a few days ago.  I haven’t written any ebooks in a few years, so I’d stopped paying attention to the Amazon stuff.  The last time I’d checked (I don’t remember when that was), I’d had a whopping two five-star reviews. That was pretty okay, I thought, everything considered.

I’m a lone wolf blogger/writer.  I don’t tell anybody I know (except family members) about my ebooks or my  blog because I don’t want them to feel like they have to read or buy my stuff.  I know my friends would, but they might not really want to, and I don’t want to put them in that position.  I’ve had a couple friends in the past that kept trying to sell stuff to me, and I know how that affects friendships, even if you try not to let it.

Don’t get me wrong; I know my ebooks have flaws.  I did everything myself, so there are little mistakes that I didn’t catch.  Some portions might feel like a rough draft (but not like a James Patterson rough draft).  I made my own covers, so my ebooks look amateurish.  I know all that.  But one-star seems harsh.  Five-stars is probably too generous.  Three or four stars, I can understand.  But one star? It seems a little extreme.

I would have been more upset if this had happened when my ebook came out, but it’s been over four years, so it doesn’t matter as much now.  It probably doesn’t matter at all.

The thing is, I’ve never left a one star-rating for a book.  I usually read the free sample online (or the first few pages in a bookstore/library), and if the book doesn’t appeal to me, I don’t buy it.

I’ve never even left a one-star review for James Patterson books.  I make fun of James Patterson books on my blog, but I’ve never gone to his website or Amazon or any online review site.  To me, it’s rude to one-star a book, even if you bought it because there’s nothing the author can do once a reader has made the purchase.

I can see giving a one-star to a hotel or a restaurant if the service was truly horrible and the management shrugs you off.  I’ve had bad service before, but management is usually cooperative, so I don’t lash out online in that situation.

If I read a book sample and then buy the book and get mad at it, I can’t one-star the book.  The book was at least good enough to get me to commit.  If it drops off at the end, then the book deserves maybe three-stars, two-stars at the worst.  What is the author going go do, rewrite it just to make me happy?

Even when I criticize published authors, I give examples of what I think about the writing.  I write blog posts where I analyze the writing from bestselling novels, but I support my negative comments with examples of the author’s writing.

My one-star raters didn’t even leave helpful reviews.  One didn’t leave any review at all.  One just left a bizarre snarky comment with an image of a dictionary excerpt.  Neither one-star were from verified purchases either, so I don’t know if they actually read the book.

Some authors might think that I shouldn’t respond to the reviews, that I’m being petty by having any negative reaction at all.  Technically, I’m not responding to the reviews; I’m talking about the reviews.  You can talk about something without responding to it.  I’m not posting the reviews.  I’m not going to Amazon to defend my book.  My only true response to my one-star raters was:

“Who are the motherf***ers that gave me a one-star rating?”


What do you think?  Have you ever left a one-star review for a book?  If you did, did you leave constructive comments?  Under what circumstances would you one-star a book?

  1. My rating system:
    One star * Yawn or god that makes me sick…WTF…can’t finish…pitch now.
    Two stars ** Readable, maybe, but not worth keeping.
    Three stars *** Good enough and a keeper, worth rereading if I live long enough
    Four stars **** Let’s read that again, soon.
    Five stars ***** Brilliant and worthy of awe, filled with underlinings.

    That is my rating system. 99.9% of the books I read get 3 stars. I never give one star on a rating because one’s attitude toward a book sometimes has nothing to do with the author. I might just be in the mood for something else, I am having an off day…etc. I always assume I, the reader, am not giving the book enough of me and there is a disconnect. I am not a discriminating reader, I finish everything I start. My ability to choose books means that I never even start a book that is on a subject I know I will hate…like rape, child abuse, slasher horror, death of animals (Old Yeller put me off for life) I read fan fiction and over the course of twenty years have read thousands and thousands of stories which encompass every quality of skill and storytelling ability and all was ‘grist for my mill’…being an addict means even the worst is good enough. In all that time I only came across two stories (by the same author) that I actively hated and it was my own fault, They were labelled and I knew going in they were out of my comfort zone and I should not have even started them. Every book deserves a chance and sometimes a book’s failure is simply because the subject matter and the reader cannot connect. If I were upset enough at a book to give it a single star I think I would explain simply because I was disturbed enough by the book to actually want to give it a single star. There is a loving audience for every book…sometimes it is just not me but as a person that hangs on to books for life…all that happens is…I give the book away and it does not get a home in my home.

  2. There’s a lot to love about this post. I haven’t read your book, but I absolutely adore the title. I just wrote down in my journal this morning that if 80% of the world hates me, then whatever 20% of 8 billion people left in the world would love me…that’s a lot of freakin’ people. Keep on going. You are doing awesome. I’m enjoying what you are creating.

    • Thanks! I’d be okay with 80% of the world hating me too, as long as they left me (and my ebook) alone. If that 80% were actively violent, then… I might worry a little bit.

  3. Meezeman permalink

    None really…if I deem something unreadable or not for me…I simply stop reading…1 star equals no class on reviewer’s part….

  4. That sounds really not very nice. I hate the negative reviews you find on Google & Co. for nice little venues or places to eat that have always been great to me. For small shops/writers this can really make or break you. Unfortunately, the happy people hardly ever write a review. If it’s not even a verified purchase, these people are probably just douchebags. (Which I’m sure you know but it’s hard to deal with critzism when nothing really has been said.)

  5. No, if something’s that bad I can usually avoid buying it at all. If I have bought it I just give up, delete or forget. Probably your one-star receivers are competitors. Either that or they’re miserable, angry people who hope to feel better by making you feel miserable and angry too. I enjoy reading your blog, so keep up the good work.

  6. Oops, reviewers not receivers. Bother this auto spell check thing!

  7. Honestly, I don’t usually leave reviews on anything. I’ve left reviews for podcasts accidentally, though.

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