Wednesday, January 25, 2012

DITCHED and One-Star Reviews

There are so many wonderful people with books coming out this year. Another one of my friends celebrated her debut release with a signing in Santa Monica at Diesel, A Book Store. Not to be confused with Diesel, the clothing store. Trust me, I now know the difference since I showed up at the clothing store first. *head palm* Ugh.

Fortunately, I was close to being on time for a change, so we made the 3-mile trek to the right Diesel with plenty of time to hug, listen to and have a book signed by the wonderful Robin Mellom. Her YA novel, DITCHED, came out on January 10 and believe it or not, she has another book, a middle grade novel, coming out in June. Talk about a banner year!

As for me, I just got back more edits so my nose will be buried deep in revisions while I wrestle with the last act of my story. But I can't sign off without mentioning a great list I found on Mediabistro. There has been a lot of uproar in the last few weeks about one-star reviews and whether or not people who rate books on Goodreads or Amazon can really call themselves reviewers.

My answer? It doesn't matter whether you're reviewing for the New York Times or your own personal blog. Reviews make people aware of a book but it doesn't mean they're going to buy it. And the list I found on Mediabistro kind of proves the point. Look at this list of books and how many one-star reviews they had on Amazon. I've read some of those titles. I know they're awesome.

One-Star Reviews for Bestselling Books
1. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (669 one-star reviews)
2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by  Stieg Larsson (396 one-star reviews)
3. A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin (344 one-star reviews)
4. The Help by Kathryn Stockett (169 one-star reviews)
5. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (157 one-star reviews)
6. Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich (119 one-star reviews)
7. Inheritance by Christopher Paolini (118 one-star reviews)
8. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (191 one-star reviews)
9. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (96 one-star reviews)
10. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (81 one-star reviews)

Yes, everybody wants good reviews, but your book isn't going to appeal to everyone. People can be mean with their opinions, but it doesn't mean you have to respond in the same way. More importantly, it doesn't mean people won't read your book. All you can do is write the best story you know how to write. The rest is out of your hands.

And, oh yeah -- can someone remind me of this sometime down the road when I'm stressing over a bad review!!


Laura Pauling said...

I think sometimes the stronger reaction a book creates in both directions sometimes results in stronger sales. That's what seems to happen. Not always. Sometimes a book is just plain awesome and well written and receives almost all 4 and 5 stars. So jealous you got to hear her speak! I loved Ditched!

Dianne K. Salerni said...

If you don't collect some one-star reviews for you book, then you aren't being read widely enough! Personally, I'd trade my nineteen 4-5 star reviews on Amazon for a hundred and fifty reviews that included some 1-stars. Better to have the book read and have some people not like it than not be read at all!

Unknown said...

And this is why I don't pay much attention to the reviews. If I like a blurb, I'll base my decision on that. Too often I've bought a book with lots of stars and didn't feel the same way about it. And other times I thought a book rocked, and many others didn't.

I can't remember ever giving out a single star. If it's that bad, I won't finish the book and I won't rate it.

Katie Anderson said...

Sherrie!!!! Hi!!!!! I saw you in Robin's pics on Facebook and thought, "Oh I've missed Sherrie!" How are you? Email me at

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

That list is great - just shows that the world is a strange, strange place. And I will remind you when your fabulous book hits the shelves! But you won't need it. :)

Caroline Starr Rose said...

You're a launch party machine!

JeannetteLS said...

I'm bookmarking this entry as a reminder to myself as I wade through writing my book. I'm at the beginning of the process. And I am new to your blog, relatively speaking.

But I imagine you'll be reminded of your words if anyone has the unmitigated gall to give you one star and it upsets you. I like what Dianne said about it all, as well!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Oh, wow, what an important thing to remember. That list is surprising, isn't it? :-)

Michelle D. Argyle said...

I think a book with one stars is a good-selling book! Obviously, it's reached a wide audience. And always, reviews are so subjective. :)

Sherrie Petersen said...

Laura: One-star reviews make me curious about the book so I agree that it could result in stronger sales. And Robin is just the best. It was a long haul for her so I'm THRILLED with what's in store for her :)

Dianne: I like your point of view! I think a strong reaction either way is better than a lukewarm "who cares" type of response.

Stina: I agree that some highly rated books have not lived up to my expectations. And like you, if the book is that bad, I just don't bother to review it, much less finish it.

Katie: I will email you straight away! Can't wait to catch up :)

Susan: Just goes to show how subjective it is. There are books I've read that everyone in the world loved and I couldn't stand, so really, one opinion won't make or break a book.

Caroline: It's been great seeing all my friends with debut novels!

Jeannette: I need to remember it as well! Like Dianne, I don't think getting a one-star review is necessarily a bad thing :)

Shannon: That list made me laugh because every one of those people with huge amounts of one-star reviews has exponentially MORE people who love the book. So yeah, very important to remember.

Michelle: This list kind of proves that one-star books can be best sellers! I hope to reach that many readers some day :)

Jackee said...

I will certainly remind you! :o) Reviewing is often too presumptuous, imo. I quit posting starred reviews because I felt I wanted to focus on the positive of a book, rather than the negative. Most of the time my review reflects what I liked about it. I figure, hey, books are like babies and there is always at least one nice things to say about someone's baby! lol

Kristan Hoffman said...

That last paragraph (before your reminder to self) is SO, so true.

As a reader, I always check a sampling of reviews, but I focus on the lower stars b/c they're much more helpful than "OMG I LOVE THIS BOOK!"

For example, "Everything else was great but I hate first person - 1 star" is helpful b/c I don't hate first person, so I know that won't bother me.

Star ratings are important b/c they help give a quick snapshot ("Is this book even worth considering?" Anything 3 stars and up probably is.) but ANY thoughtful, well-written review can be helpful, regardless of what # of stars go with it.

Lydia Kang said...

I have got to reread this post when my book comes out and starts getting yucky reviews. You are so right!

Robin Mellom said...

Thank you so much for coming to the launch! It meant a lot to me!!! :)

Kelly Polark said...

How fun you got to go to the launch of Ditched! I loved that book and Robin's sense of humor. I can't wait for The Classroom!

Sherrie Petersen said...

Jackee: I've been skipping the stars and just writing my reviews as well. And if I don't like a book, I just don't write anything.

Kristan: I agree that stars can be helpful, but I prefer to see what people actually have to say. Some one-star reviews can have good points. I ignore them if they're just being inflammatory.

Lydia: Those reviews, good and bad, are going to be coming your way before you know it! That's so exciting!!

Robin: I'm glad I got to come! It was great seeing you and I love my Kooshies :)

Kelly: Robin is brilliant! I'm so glad I got to be there. And I finally read the book. LOVE The Mikes!! :P

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