I guess it was inevitable. The third day of the year and I get my first one-star review on my first novel, An Involuntary Spy. As usual, the reviewer didn’t have anything critical to say about the novel, other than expressing his opinion that I was a “liberal” and that I was “full of myself” and “anti-American.” Thank you to all my one-star reviewers out there! Without you, I would not be able to feel crappier when I occasionally have a crappy day. Thank you also, for educating me about myself. I had no idea that I was a liberal. In fact, before I completely gave up on both of the hypocritical, special interest serving Elephants and Donkeys in our two party system, I was, in fact, a registered Republican for many years. I also appreciate you pointing out the fact that anyone who believes in upholding the Constitution (in fact I am sworn to do so) but who criticizes anything about the current government in power is anti-American. Thank you also, for pointing out that I am some kind of egomaniac. I wallowed in self-doubt all those years for nothing! I should have written a novel before! It would have been so self-reflective and insightful (and would have saved thousands in psychotherapy.) I truly didn’t know I was an asshole until you one-star wonders pointed that out!
Seriously, for the authors who frequent my blog, and I know they do because we authors stick together, don’t despair! It takes a while to be able to handle one-star reviews. After all, most people don’t visit your newborn child in the hospital and exclaim, “Jeez! That little fart is really ugly! Looks like a dried up piece of crap! Have you had it tested for birth defects?” By the same token, an author doesn’t expect everyone to like his or her work, but at least give it some real criticism! And where does all that anger come from? We didn’t steal your Sunday afternoon. You chose to buy our “trite drivel.” Nobody forced you.
Here are some helpful hints for the one-star reviewer. First of all, and this is the most important, so take note: You don’t have to be perfect, but please brush up on your spelling, grammar and punctuation before you write your review, especially if you are going to be critical about the editing. This also may help you cool down that anger (where does that come from?) I hear that counting to ten can be helpful, also. “Their” is possessive. It does not indicate place or position, and is not a contraction meaning “they are.” “Are” is a verb. It does not indicate “belonging to us.” It works much the same way with “your” and “you’re.” They may sound the same but they’re not! Here’s a handy guide to review before you write your (not you’re) review: http://www.wikihow.com/Use-There,-Their-and-They%27re .
Secondly, it’s just a book! Some authors, like me, want to get a point across as well as entertain you, but you don’t have to agree with the point to enjoy the story. “An Involuntary Spy,” is about a scientist who flees the States being chased by a CIA death squad because he stole government reports from his employer. If you don’t think the US government is corrupt, fine! Pretend that it’s Maxwell Smart and KAOS instead of a real country (with real death squads.) “A Patriot’s Act” is about an Iraqi who becomes a flag waving U.S. citizen but is in the wrong place at the wrong time and ends up tortured in Guantanamo Bay. You think torture is okay? Well, then you probably shouldn’t read it. That was a bad example. The point is that this is a book, not a political manifesto or “white paper,” as some of my one-star wonders have pontificated.
Finally, only people deciding whether to buy books may read your review. If you want to make a political statement, write a blog post or an op-ed. Amazon isn’t your soap box where you can extract a pound of flesh from some author who stole you away from your ball game or the reruns of Happy Days. If you have an opinion, make it about the book, not the author. You don’t know me, and I cannot be classified into whatever social or political category or class you think I belong to.
Reviews do count, and one-star reviews are a killer if you get too many crazies buying your book. If any crazies are reading this, PLEASE DON’T BUY MY BOOKS! However, despite the tone of this post, I really have learned how to shrug them off. I have also learned that nobody deserves a one-star review. I read a lot, and read a lot of books by self-published authors because we need to stick up for each other. No matter how much I dislike a book, and I have disliked some of them, I have never found any of them completely devoid of any merit so as to warrant only one star.