1 Star reviews suck. When you’ve put your blood, sweat and caffeine into creating something, you want people to love it. But as comic author Karl Wiggins shows in this guest post, if you’ve received a 1 star review, you’re in good company. Enjoy his lighthearted approach to 1 star reviews, but remember he has a serious point to make too.
Do 1 Star reviews knock the wind out of your sails? There are blogs and forum discussions all over the Internet on this subject, and for the most part the advice is to move on. Not everyone’s going to like your writing. Deal with it. You owe it to the reader to give what it says on the tin. I’m aware that my sense of humour is occasionally unsuitable, disproportionate and some might even say tasteless. I try and make that clear in the blurb but humour is never to everyone’s taste.
While I don’t take myself or my writing that seriously I do, however, take the reader seriously. I’m always happy to talk to the reader and have even retired books that due to comments in reviews I could see weren’t working. The reader very often offers extremely valuable advice. If I go to a rock concert or a football match or a restaurant I know what I expect to find. If it’s below standard then I have the opportunity to engage the organisers or the manager in conversation and let my feelings be known. The reader has exactly the same opportunity. He/she can make or break a book by his reviews.
Reviews are important, so I thought I’d share a few 1 Star reviews here that I’ve found on Amazon, just to raise the spirits of those writers who feel that a 1 Star review has stolen their thunder.
- “The book comes over as a poorly-written schoolboy essay,” Lord Beau.
- “I can honestly say it is the most boring book I have ever read. Nothing happens and when it finally does its predictable and dull,” Kirstie Moore.
- “Of all the fiction I have ever read, I have never disliked any story more, learnt so little from reading, or cared less about characters as much as in this one,” N. Nezvanova.
- “What a load of tosh. Was there supposed to be a story to this?” Chapelface.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
- “This is possibly the worst book I have ever read,” John Self.
- “I couldn’t believe how bad this book is,” N. Byrne.
- “I loved the storyline about Lucy Mancini’s ‘big box,’” Esmee.
The Godfather by Mario Puzo.
- “if only..if only i could string a sentance together to express my hatred for this book. never ever have i ever wanted to finish a book so quickly . its all just so slow paced and unbelivable,” Mr L. Wright. (Hmmm, if only you could spell the word ‘sentence’ let alone string one together, and while you’re at it learn to start sentences – however you spell them – in upper case, and the same with the letter ‘I’ – KW).
Papillon by Henri Charrière.
- “I Hate this author I read a review that said it was an epic that’s a lie if you like carp like this read I would give it 0/5 Instead don’t read this if you actually like good books,” RMorris.
- “I think that this was a confusing book. It was almost like two different stories. It as s still an ok book though,” Da Man.
- “This is not a book, this is a fancy throw-away piece of yuck,” A.E. Dunbar.
- “this book sucked so bad i think ill fart out my cornflakes. y not? Ahhhhhhhhh,” Trolzor 6000.
Call of the Wild by Jack London.
- “was written too old fasond. The words were too hard .The story was boring and long. It was also difficult to read,” A Customer.
White Fang by Jack London.
- “I dont no who this author is, but I do no this- he can’t right good english. Its imposible to unnerstand. ever thing is delibiratly made hard to reed. it dosnt even relate to modern life. nothing in his storys are even remotely modern,” Schlem.
- “Has too many errors according to this version Henry the V was not born but was porn!.” Ant.
The Complete Works of Shakespeare.
- “I am personally begging you all not to waste your money on this book that’s not even worthy of wiping your backside with!” Jerame E. Miller.
- “Thompson represents what you get when you cross-breed a toothless Kentucky derelict with a bipolar neurotic,” A Customer.
Hell’s Angels by Hunter S. Thompson.
- “A very slow, cumbersome book which I couldn’t wait to finish!!” Geoffrey.
- “Very slow and really no story very tedious reading,” Denise Goodlass.
- “I have read two chapters, but cannot go on…this book simply does not work for me, and I find it boring and predictable,” Heavyreader.
- “Rubbish. this book was a complete waste of my time. Goes on and on about the things,” (What things? – KW) Yebob.
- “Boring. I only got a few chapters read and I had to pack it in. You would think this guy had swallowed a mouthful of enchiladas with the words he was producing it has put me right off going to see the film,” Scooby.
Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup.
- “This was the most shit book,” S.
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.
- “This is a pretty weak effort, as storytelling goes ….. Steinbeck is not a skilled painter of scenes,” Amanda Huggenkiss.
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.
- “On reflection, I really wish I had never started this. I need a stiff drink, and I don’t drink!” Essex Boy.
- “I find the characters superficial, the story tortuous and the alternative universes unconvincing,”“Many of my friends have not even heard of Philip Pullman !!! But yes indeed …. he’s not well known in India,“ Rebecca Davis.
- “It’s one of the silliest books I’ve ever come across. One definitely for the charity shop,” Famous Name.
- “Life is too short to waste on such a boring book,” Abby 1710.
- “The worst book ever,” A Customer.
- “Don’t be afraid to voice your complaint. Join EFAAAL (the Emerald Forest Association Against Awful Literature) in our struggle to alert the world to the presence of bad literature. To prove you really want to join us, write your review of “The Golden Compass” with your e-mail adress written as well, and simply state at the end of your review: “I would like to join EFAAAL.” We will e-mail you and give you information such as the adress of our hedquarters. We really will. Take it from the Vice-President of EFAAAL, Reeve McMicheals. Go on. Don’t be afraid,” A Customer. (I love this last. A member of The Association Against Awful Literature can’t even spell address or headquarters – KW)
Northern Lights: His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman.
How about this one from Trainspotting, a book which follows a group of heroin addict’s through an economically depressed area of Edinburgh. That’s in Scotland by the way. “Might be a good story. but I have no idea if this is a good story because I became bored and frustrated trying to translate the cockney crap,” John Sebastian from Temecula, California. (Cockney crap? – KW)
- “This book was completely asinine, shallow, self-absorbed, contrived, and just about everything else that seems to be wrong with modern novels,” A Customer.
- “I ended up throwing my book in the wastepaper basket after a hundred pages,” Vort 3X.
- “This is one of the worst books I¡¦ve ever read. I could hardly wait to finish it. I thought the beginning especially had the hallmarks of ineptitude. I certainly wouldn’¡¦t look forward to reading any of the author¡¦s other works. I have no regrets about giving this 1 star,” A Customer (So you didn’t like it then? What’s with all the i! thingies in …. Forget it – KW).
Trainspotting by Irvine Welch.
- “Burned my copy so no one would have to be subjected to it ever again,” Blues Guy.
A Feast of Snakes by Harry Crews (one of my favourite books – KW)
- “This book sucks …. This book is a great way to promote white racism…page after page of the white man being the devil,”
Thomas X. The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Anita Aboulafia.
- “This book was just too difficult to read for me. Maybe I’ll try again when I’ve only got paint to watch dry,” Brian Mowatt.
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
- “This book is terrible, I mean, I know it was written like ages ago like in the 50’s when movies were all about giants ants and stuff, but none of the animals on this farm were even radioactive or giant or anything, so who cares? They just kind of fight amongst themselves and that’s it! The whole book!” Maskoolio.
Animal Farm by George Orwell.
- “I’ve never read such horribly written sentences, such poorly edited dialogue or such horribly used grammar. Seriously, it’s an abortion of a text,” Andy Pac.
- “… like a lot of contemporary authors, doesn’t seem to understand that although reading, writing, speaking, listening, hearing, thinking and understanding are all done with WORDS, they are quite distinct and different activities. So to READ easily, the reader needs proper punctuation marks, like quote marks round speech, and from time to time, an indication as to who is speaking. Plenty other authors, and presumably their publishers, think it’s ‘cute’ or something to dispense with quote marks. No way. It just makes the writing unreadable. I mean ….. why not go the whole hog andmissoutthespacesbetweenthewordsafteralltherearenospacesbetweenthewordsinrealspeech, are there?” Yellow Duck.
No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy.
- “This book was so boring I gave up at the end,” A Customer (Well, if you’re going to give up on a book, I suppose the end is as good a place as any – KW).
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey.
- “To be honest, I despised this book. The characters were fake and the conflicts were predictable. It was a struggle to read through this, and I am overjoyed it is over,” Bett Rhoad Myrick.
- “I made it to page 500 out of 1100 in this version and pulling the plug. This book was so boring … ridiculously boring …. don’t bother reading. I’m mad that I wasted so much of my life on 500 pages of drudgery. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH,” Thomas E. Leahy.
- “I hated this book and found it to be extremely boring,” Mark Herzog.
- “If you have several hours to spend on the pursuit of being so bored you want to contemplate suicide, I would highly recommend this book,” Adam Appleby.
- “HELP ME!!!!!!! This is the worst book ever written in the history of the world. Reading it is like being stuck in a dark room with me for a week. You should never get this book and if you do chop it up burn it through the ashes in a ravine and nuke the ENTIRE VACINITY!!!” A Customer.
- “HELL ON PAPER!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! This book is so incredibly awful … long … boring … STUPID. I had to read this in English honours and I nearly killed my teacher. AHHHHHH!!!! Stay away at all costs!!!” Owellwutevernvmd. (Hmmmm, as ‘Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh’ seems to be a recurring theme when reviewing this book, I suppose we’d better find out who wrote it – KW).
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens.
- “This is literally one of the worst books I have ever almost read. Never have I ever been so insulted by any book. I would never recommend this book to any one ever in my life. This book made me dread reading it and now I am just reading the summery because it is so boring,” Dante (Well, Dante, it’s hardly fair to offer a 1 Star review if you haven’t even read the book, now is it? – KW).
- “I would only recommend this book as a cure for insomnia,” Carrie Childress.
- “Have not read it yet. I do not hate it just. I have not read it yet; can not tell it is good or bad. Will let you know once completed,” Amazon Customer (WHAT!!! Another one! How can you give it a 1 Star review if you haven’t read the book yet? – KW).
- “I do not think this book worthy of my review. In fact I gave up after only reading about ten percent of the pages,” David Bailey (F*ck’s sake – KW).
- “Bad read could not relate to the words too old fashioned for my taste good job it was cheap or would have wanted my money back,” Jeff Ellener (Hmmm, Jeff, if you look carefully, that one sentence review of yours isn’t exactly what one would call a ‘good’ read either, now is it? – KW).
- “Pseudo intellectual by a racist writer. It can replace death as ‘The Capital Punishment,’ A Customer.
- “It’s so boring, dead people will rise to shut you up if you’ll read it to them. Evoid at all costs!” A Customer.
- “The greatest piece of trash I’ve ever read. I would much rather find myself engrossed in some soup label than this atrocity,” A Customer.
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky.
- “I bought this book to see me through a long visit to hospital, but the print was so small that I couldn’t read it at all,” Ann Gue.
- “I read the book (well 5 pages) and didn’t really get the plot line. I went back to reading other novels, but at least, at on £1.99, it made a good door wedge,” Thomas T. Troll (Five pages, Thomas? – KW).
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy.
I trust this has demonstrated clearly that we all like to read different reading material, and we’ve all got a different sense of humour. My own sense of humour possibly evolved over the last 40 years from initially watching Monty Python, Billy Connolly, Richard Prior, Eddie Murphy, George Carlin, Only Fools & Horses, Jack Dee, Al Murray, Michael Macintyre, Rhod Gilbert, John Bishop and so on. They’ve all added their unique way of looking at the world and how it amuses them to this planet’s psyche and thanks to each and every one of them we all talk slightly different to our friends and family.
Nowadays a sense of humour is a universally recognised personality trait that is an essential component of the complete person. We now take ourselves a lot less seriously than we did back in the 60’s. Can you imagine time-travelling back to 1963 with the quick, ready banter that is nowadays an intelligent and witty art form requiring both mental agility and precocity, while everyone else is still laughing at a pie in the face?
But I digress. I hope this short piece has served to remind the authors and writers out there that everyone, absolutely everyone, receives 1 Star reviews for their writing. Don’t worry about it. Move on. There’s nothing any of us can do about it. Hopefully none of us receive too many because an awful lot of work goes into writing a book, but it is going to happen.
There may be people reading this who feel this post is a cop-out, that I’ve used other people’s words to create this piece, and it’s not my writing at all. Well there’s some truth in that but I desperately wanted to take the opportunity to demonstrate to other writers that even the best authors in history aren’t accepted by everyone.
Reviews are extremely important to every author. Often it’s our only chance to connect with the reader. For that reason I’d urge everyone who reads a book to take the time to write a little blurb on Amazon. It doesn’t have to be anything special, just a couple of lines, and offer an honest Star rating. That way the writer has at least some idea of what works and what doesn’t, and can perhaps adjust his style for the next book. It really is a huge help and not to be underestimated.
Karl Wiggins is a much underrated comic genius (GS)
His books include Shit my History Teacher DID NOT tell me!, Dogshit Saved My Life and GRIT – The Banter and Brutality of the Late-Night Cab Driver. Besides ‘having a whole series of shit books,’ Karl’s stated ambition is ‘to give direction to comedy, purpose to satire… to use self-deprecating, piss-taking humour to bring to the fore situations that just don’t stack up.”
In the words of one (more than 1 star) reviewer, ““Anyone who is a bit saucy, is very fond of boobies and doesn’t mind peeing slightly when they laugh too hard, this is… for you!”
You can also find Karl on The Independent Author Network or at the Author Blogger Exchange. However you find Karl, be sure to speak up and connect with him. He’s very good at making sure he responds to everyone who reaches out.
And no, this isn’t one of those annoying author blurbs written by the author about himself in the third person. I had to cobble it together because in an uncharacteristic bout of shyness (or was he just being lazy?) Karl omitted his bio.