A fellow writer friend of mine got their first one star rating on Goodreads a few weeks back. They posted about it and how it made them feel. They even apologised to the rest of us who may read their post that they *knew they were being silly to be worried or upset* (paraphrased to protect the innocent!).
How as authors are we supposed to feel? Can we not be upset without looking like we are idiots. The grown up adult side of us (you know… the side that we try to keep quiet underneath our attempts to stay young) learns something from each review. The grown up writer grows even more with each point they take on board that makes them better at what they do.
When I got my first ‘one' I was devastated; my second made me contemplate stopping writing. Now? Now, I think one of my books isn't truly critiqued unless I get a one from someone somewhere. It balances the other reviews and now most of my books sit at or around 3.5/5. As the holder of a statistics degree I am happy that I fall on average above the 3 line. This to me means that, in the main, people *like* my writing. Also as an aside, anything above a three seems to convert to healthy sales.
Empire Magazine rate films on a star rating. I very rarely like the films they rate as a five. I often find these films boring (I am still recovering from Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and The Constant Gardner). I tend to love the films that are rated as threes. The guilty pleasure films- Mission Impossible and the like (I must add that there are occasions we agree … Return of the King, Shawshank etc!).
When One Night first hit the stands everyone on GRs appeared to hate it. It hovered at 2 point something for days… then I was lucky to receive a few fours and fives and suddenly *yay* my average popped above a three.
Still. I knew it – I was doomed. Throwaway may well have done really well for me a few months before, but reviewers were calling Heart of Texas *just a soap opera* and hated it…I even got into my one and only only row over a one star rating. It was an awful time. I hadn't seen proper sales figures for HoT and then One Night came out with the low ratings. One Night didn't have the perfect HEA, and it clearly wasn't what people expected from RJ Scott. I thought I had written hope and expectation when evidently I had just written complete shite. I had really fucked up on that AND All The Kings Horses. I was going to go back to Website Design.
Then… imagine the complete and utter shock when hubby informs me that One Night is selling well. Really well. Apparently. So… someone out there must like it… right? Nah. I told myself maybe people are buying it because they just read Throwaway and there wasn't anything else on the list that had come out at that time they fancied reading. They'd all read One Night and hate it… sales sharply dropping was a scenario that had all the inevitability of an inevitable thing.
Wait. It kept selling. So. How? Why? Because the reviews had been so SO bad. Even though my brain had known reviews are one person's opinion, my heart was still wrapped up in sending my baby out for people to read. My heart wanted so desperately for people to like it.
Slowly but surely (and this has taken me nearly two years) I am pulling myself away from relentlessly refreshing my screen for the first reviews, away from Goodreads. I am certainly nowhere near blasé about reviews from GRs and other sources but I am less prone to fall weeping to the floor. I don't have time; I am too busy using what they say that is good sound critique and making my next book better.
I think we all have to remember – reviews are a lovely thing to validate our writing and to help market ourselves but places like Goodreads are for readers and all readers are entitled to their opinion (me included). As long as I please the majority, and that majority buy my books, then I am happy. Right?
What do you think?