What should you do about a 1-star review that has NOTHING to do with your book? #WriterWednesday #BookReviews

It happens. It is – in fact – almost guaranteed to happen. If you’ve written more than a handful of books and it hasn’t happened yet, it will – probably soon. What am I talking about? The dreaded one-star review. Just writing the words makes me angry and hurts my teeth (probably because I automatically start grinding them).

I don’t need to tell you not to engage with negative reviewers. We all know that nothing good will come from begging a reviewer to reconsider (and it’s kind of pathetic). You also risk getting a bad reputation amongst the blogger community and let me tell you that’s not something you want. The book blogging community is incredibly helpful to a writer. Getting on their bad side will help no one.

But what about a review that contains obvious falsehoods or is obvious bullying? Can you engage then? Or maybe contact Goodreads or Amazon to deal with the issue? This is painful, but the truth of the matter is this: there’s nothing you can do. Let me re-phrase that – there’s nothing you can do that will get that review deleted. (This is my personal experience, if someone has had a different experience, please let me know!)

1 starLet’s start with obvious falsehoods and Amazon. I received a one-star review for my bundle The Gray-Haired Knitting Detectives. Naturally, that can happen. Readers are allowed to absolutely hate my novels no matter how much pain that causes me. But this review – titled Smut on Parade – was even more painful because it was full of lies! The reviewer claims there is a sexual act in the first paragraph (the first paragraph is a diatribe about women over forty getting chin hair). The reviewer even claims the price of the book cost 20% more than it actually does (twenty percent doesn’t sound like much but I put a lot of thought into how I price my books).

1 star 4Obviously, this reviewer was bullying me was my thought. I immediately contacted Amazon and asked that they remove the review due to misrepresentations in the review. After all, there is that little box with ‘report abuse’ on it! They didn’t even bother to get back to me. There’s no way in hell I’m contacting the reviewer myself. So, what’s left to do? Well, not much. The only thing I have done is vote her review unhelpful. Go me! That’ll show her.

Unfortunately, that’s not the only one-star review I’ve received. On Goodreads, I have a ‘follower’ who gives all my books one star. Even books that have not yet been released! When she one-starred a book not yet released, I thought “A-ha! I’ve got you now”. Goodreads didn’t agree. They did respond to my email, but the response was not what I expected (let alone what I hoped for). They told me that they do not review the content of reviews as everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But the book wasn’t released yet! No matter.

1 star 5

If you were hoping to find some magically solution to dealing with one-star reviews in this blog article, I’m sorry to have disappointed. As I’ve pointed out above, there’s pretty much nothing you can do about these reviews – even when they have obviously nothing to do with your book. The only thing I can say that may take away just a little of the pain is this – You are not alone. Even the greats receive one-star reviews.

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24 thoughts on “What should you do about a 1-star review that has NOTHING to do with your book? #WriterWednesday #BookReviews

    • D.E. Haggerty says:

      I, too, am extremely suspicious of a book with only five-star reviews. Really? I just worry about the overall rating going down and readers not taking the time to look further. But balance is good. Totally agree.


  1. Jessica Bakkers says:

    Great post! I’ll give you four stars for it 😏
    My debut book will be coming out later in the year and I have to say there’s nothing that scares me more in this universe than reviews. I KNOW there’ll be unfavourable reviews but I also KNOW how angry a one star will make me. Especially for stupid reasons or just because someone felt like trolling that day. It’s helpful to be reminded that everyone experiences these types of reviews at some point. Thanks for the timely reminder.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Stevie Turner says:

    I would agree that nothing can be done about it. We all receive one star reviews. All we can do is forget about them and move on. IMHO a few one stars dotted in amongst the four and five stars looks more genuine to readers than a whole string of five star reviews, especially if those four and five star reviews are not verified purchases.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Julie Watson (@BornforMidwife) says:

    I am sorry that you have this happening. I am referring to the person posting a review before even being released yet. That is so hard to deal with. You just have to try and shake it off. My new motto as well. Being an author can be so hard. You need reviews and they are so hard to get and then this happens. Feeling your pain.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. N. N. Light says:

    Loved this and you have so many good points. Here’s something to keep in mind: Those one-star reviews means you’ve arrived as an author. 😉 Gotta agree with you on the naked analogy. It totally feels like that. I’ve had my fair share of bad reviews.

    As for the one you highlighted, the reviewer could very well be a bigot and hates all gays. Another option is that he/she could be a rival author. Yes, unfortunately there’s a trend right now where authors bash other authors in the same genre. I find this highly offensive. Authors are supposed to help each other, not bash other authors. It’s hard enough as it is. SIgh.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Natalie Ducey says:

    Thanks for sharing this, D.E. I haven’t experienced this yet, but it helps to prepare me for it. 🙂 Sorry that you have a nasty troll on Goodreads. That’s really unfortunate. I’ve read a few 1 star reviews and they are written in such a way that it’s impossible to give them merit. I think most readers see it as such. But I do appreciate the concern regarding the overall rating taking a hit.
    My second book of poetry is scheduled to launch on Tuesday. Yup, the naked in the street analogy nails it! Cheers! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. John Fioravanti says:

    This is why I shun Goodreads. I pulled my books at one point, then I went back. I’ve not had one of these terrible reviews (yet) but I’m sure it will happen on Goodreads first. Some bestselling authors love 1star reviews because they help the sales of their book.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. amjusticewrites says:

    When my book first came out I was getting a lot of 1 and 2 star reviews because my publisher and I miscalculated the target audience. For the most part, the reviewers who didn’t like the book either didn’t get it or couldn’t take the grimdark aspects (which are fundamental to the story). Even though I could dismiss their reviews as coming from the wrong target audience, it still HURT and made me question what I was doing. I cried on a lot of shoulders. Then good reviews started coming in and outweigh the bad ones. Now that I have some distance, I wear those bad reviews almost as a badge of honor. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  8. kentuckygal50 says:

    I’ve come across a couple of those. In one case, the reviewer claimed the authors were untruthful about the book being self-published, and pointed to her ‘evidence’, where she claimed the title of the book was the name of the ‘publisher’. I figure she either couldn’t read (in which case she must have had someone read the book and type her review for her or she could do all that for herself and is just anti-social. I peeked at some of her other reviews and she never gave any book more than 3 stars. Go figure.

    Your fans, tribe, etc., know you and your writing better than that and most snarkily have your back! :O)

    Liked by 2 people

  9. drmerke says:

    A timely topic for me as just yesterday I was looking at reviews for a book by a new author. There were some five star reviews, a couple four star reviews, and one single star review. The one star review simply stated, “I don’t recall buying this book.” Huh? Such an ignorant thing to do in the first place, and rather callous not to have a system in place to remove such “reviews” when it’s obvious.

    Liked by 2 people

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