Thursday, May 1, 2008

One Star?! Say It Ain't So! by Kristy Kiernan

I've spent way too much time online this week, what with all the hilarity over Amazon One-Star Reviews. I was first alerted to this by the fabulous J.D. Rhoades (Dusty to his friends, but I'm pretty sure nobody who's ever met Dusty wasn't able to call him friend in about 1.2 seconds [which also happens to be the time it takes to open a beer; total coincidence, I'm sure]) in his post titled My God! It's Full of Suck! 

Now, a lot has been written about the whole Debra McGillivray thing, and if you want to take days out of your life that you will never get back, well, go ahead and follow all those links in his post. But what the fine John Scalzi finally reduces it all down to is a challenge to acknowledge your one-star Amazon reviews, and then get past them.

So. I've received two one-star reviews for Catching Genius. I know! Crazy right? I mean, I was pretty sure that Catching Genius was going to save contemporary American fiction, and the fact that these readers were unable to see my brilliance was devastating. The first:

4 of 9 people found the following review helpful:

 Weak Main Character/Unrealistic, July 24, 2007

By #GIJANE "Loves Labs & cooking." (Nottingham, PA) - See all my reviews

I don't understand how any woman could enjoy this book. The main character allows her husband to repeatedly cheat on her and she does nothing until he basically flaunts it! I also find it hard to believe that a few weeks of vacation would change a lifetime of problems and resentments among family members.


OUCH! Really? Not ANY woman? Wow, I mean, that's bad. That is really, really bad! GIJANE really hates me! She loves labs and cooking, but clearly hates me. Or, my book anyway, which really IS me, right? Maybe not. Anyway, one of the big things that McGillivray was lambasted for was for supposedly tracking down the reviewer who slammed her, noting that she knew her name, her kid's names, her granny's name, and so forth.

So, uh, full disclosure. I've always felt that if I could just understand my detractors then I could live with their dislike of me/my book. And so, in the spirit of trying to understand who GIJANE is, I do admit that I checked out her Wishlist. I didn't look at the Wishlist in order to harass her, or to try to get my friends to harass her, or to publicly threaten (no matter how thinly) her, her kids, or her granny. I didn't even vote her review unhelpful.

I just had to know a little more about this person who hated my book so much that she couldn't understand how ANY woman could enjoy it. And, frankly, what I learned made me feel much, much better. I learned that she gave The Departed a two-star review. Had I rated that movie I'd have given it a twenty-two star review. She also wishes she had a metal detector, and Timecop, and she likes Shania Twain and thrillers, but doesn't like anything sad (though she gave that classic of uplifting stories, The Lovely Bones, FIVE stars!). 

Anyone who actually knows me is cracking up right now. GIJANE and I are not soul mates. My God, of course she doesn't like my book! We couldn't possibly be less alike! Hey, I'm good with ole GIJANE, though I admit I still take exception to her assertion that things got all worked out in a few weeks. And those few weeks weren't no vacation, but I digress…I'm not mad, I don't hate her, don't even dislike her, and I have, mostly, forgotten about that review.  I'm not sending the flying monkeys, we just have very, very different tastes.

One-Star Review, Take Two:

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful:

 drawn out and tiresome, January 14, 2008

By #J. Mogol - See all my reviews

I couldn't wait for this book to end. It was too long and had too many plots. It was too loosely woven for me to enjoy. I was surprised to see so many positive reports, but I didn't have too much positive to say.

Oh, J.Mogol, it hurts, it hurts. Couldn't WAIT for it to end? Yowza! Why didn't you stop reading? I'd have been okay with that! Honestly, in a totally non-snarky, no hard feelings way. Too long, too many plots, hmmm, again, I'd kind of like to disagree with those. I was pretty sure it was ONE plot, but okay, let's see where J. is coming from. 


Aha! She wishes she could own CDs by Taylor Hicks and Clay Aiken, as well as the DVD Aladdin (Disney Special Platinum Edition). See? Now I don't feel so bad! We're simply not compatible in any way, shape, or form.

I'd be willing to bet that GIJANE and J.Mogul are lovely people. I bet they love their families (and/or labs) and are loved in return. Do I wish they'd liked my book? Of course I do. Do I wish they'd been slightly more kind in their comments? Of course I do. 

But I got into this knowing full well that not everyone was going to like what I do. I hope more do than don't. Writers I revere have one-star reviews. Writers I can't stand have five-star reviews. We all have different tastes, and thank goodness. What a boring world it would be if we all liked the same thing.

I'm over it. After all, Matters of Faith will be out in August, and I have new things to obsess over, new one-star reviews to dread, and hopefully a lot of five-star reviews to make me feel better about it.

Up for the challenge? Blog about your One-Star Reviews and then leave the link in the comments. Or don't. Because I completely respect  your right to do, and like, you know, whatever you want. But if you leave mean comments, well, just hope I don't find YOUR Wishlist!

Kristy Kiernan writes from south Florida. She also can't get the image uploader to work correctly, so the cool One-Star Review image isn't here. Neither is her picture, nor either of her book covers. But I assure you, she does exist, as do her books. After all, they're ON AMAZON!


JD Rhoades said...

You're pretty damn fabulous your ownself, Kristy. And so is MATTERS OF FAITH, y'all. And if you ever do need a Flying Monkey to go after someone just say the word. I just got my funny hat and little red and gold vest.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kristy,

Loved this!

I blogged about one-star reviews too at my persoanl blog.


Beth Fehlbaum, Author said...

My book comes out in September, but I've favorited this page so I can return and post any One-Star reviews I receive. THANK YOU (and to the other authors whose links you graciously included) for putting this in perspective for me before it starts happening. I love the idea of reading the reviewer's Wish Lists, etc., to be able to see the caliber of mind(s) you're dealing with.
The closest thing I have to this so far is from when I had a blog account on one of the providers (OK, it was Live Journal, OK??) and as soon as I posted some entries, these nasty people started picking me apart, trying to figure out what I was doing and why I was there. I felt rotten and hated and I asked some of my more experienced author friends how they handled public razing. One of them checked out the posters who were being so ugly and said something to the effect of, "Her main interests are her cats and watching Dr. Phil. I don't think you have anything to be worried about..."
Beth Fehlbaum, author
Courage in Patience, a story of hope for those who have endured abuse
Chapter One is online!

Dave Donelson said...

That's just because your experienced author friend (guess who?) didn't have any flying monkeys at his disposal. I am putting a help wanted ad in Craigs List as we speak.
Great post, Kristy.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds and secret protector of damsels in distress.

Beth Fehlbaum, Author said...

Thank you, Dave. (Sighs, bats her eyelashes dramatically, waves her hand before her face and requests a mint julep...)
"My Hero!"

Larramie said...

Another sheer genius idea to check those wishlists, Kristy, yet what were those readers expecting when purchasing CG?

Oh, if only Amazon allowed a six-star review, I would not hesitate in bestowing one on Matters of Faith. But instead I'll say, Pre-order now!

Anonymous said...

I haven't read your book, but I just looked at it on Amazon. You have 15 5 star reviews, 3 4 star,
and 2 1 star. That seems good to me. Your total rating was 4 and a half or three fourths, the same as To Kill A Mockingbird. A Good Man is Hard To Find only has a four star rating.

When I read your blog I thought the only reviews you had were the one star ones. Perspective is everything.

Anonymous said...

Hey Dusty, Karin, Beth, Dave, Larrramie, and Anon! Lovely to see you all :-) and thank you so much for making it un-lonely here.

A quick aside to Anon and anyone else who might have misunderstood: I am DELIGHTED with the way Catching Genius was received!! I think it's had a very nice showing on Amazon and I couldn't be happier. The point of the One-Star Review Challenge was to address, well, your one-star reviews, how they made you feel, and to challenge you to get past them. Challenge goal achieved as far as I'm concerned!

Kristy Kiernan

Beth Fehlbaum, Author said...

I thoroughly enjoyed your post and caught the tongue-in-cheek character of it. I think the flying monkeys and checking out the Wish Lists are all appropriate responses!
What a cool perspective you have on it. :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Beth. May countless five-star reviews be in your future...