As part of my continuing mission to remind authors and other creative people that there is nothing they will ever create that will be universally loved, here are some choice comments from one-star reviews of Redshirts, my current, fastest-selling and in many ways most enthusiastically received book:
“Sophomoric is the kindest word I can come up with. Boring might be another. Flat characters describes in 2 words, waste of money in 3 words.”
“DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME READING THIS….and if you ignore my advice, and read it anyway, I will happily send you a note saying ‘told you so!’”
“This is an onanistic, shallow and very disappointing book.”
“First time in a decade I was actually unable to finish a book.”
“The only reason I didn’t burn this book is because I borrowed it.”
I actually have an overwhelming desire to send this last dude a copy with the inscription “BURN ME.” But then I’m pretty sure I would go to Hell. Because book burning? Bad.
Once again: How do I feel about one star reviews? I’m fine with them. I’m sorry these folks had an unhappy reading experience, but the point is that no matter what I wrote, someone would have had an unhappy reading experience. I know this because there’s not a novel I’ve written that someone hasn’t seen fit to complain about, often at length and sometimes with the vitriol usually reserved for politicians of the party one does not like.
It’s part of the territory, and the sooner one as a creator comes to grips with it and accepts it as part of the process, the better off one will be. I think as a creator you owe your audience your best efforts, but if at the end of your best effort some of them are still not happy, the best response is, oh, well, maybe next time. You will never make everyone happy. If you try, you’ll likely create something mediocre, and then nobody will be happy. Least of all you.
One-star (and otherwise negative) reviews happen. Accept them, own them, and then move on from them.