Woke up today and, as I often do, I checked the status of my book, Little Deaths, at Amazon. I was surprised to see that I’d finally garnered my first one-star review. It was a momentous occasion, to say the least. Here’s what my 1-star reviewer had to say:
“All stories ended in the same way. No real impact and very flat characters. It didn’t strike a nerve at all….a very sad thing for a horror fiction novel.”
Aside from the fact that Little Deaths isn’t a novel, this reviewer is certainly entitled to her opinion. I and most of my readers would respectfully disagree about the other points she makes, but that’s OK.
Little Deaths has racked up 32 reviews so far on Amazon. Of those, 19 are 5-star reviews and 8 are 4-star. Four of them are two-stars, and now my badge of honor, the 1-star review. Let me point out here, also, that most of these reviews, the lion’s share by far, are from people I don’t know. They’re not from friends or family, for the most part, because, as I have learned, getting your friends and family to review your stuff on Amazon is like asking them to lop off a limb for some reason. (To those of my friends and family who have left reviews, thanks!)
Normally, I’d be pretty upset. I am most certainly not. Is it because I think I’m such a great writer that I’m above criticism? Nope. Is it because I think all readers will love my writing? Hells no! I learned long ago that people like what they like, and that everything I write won’t appeal to everybody. In fact, some readers won’t like anything I write.
And that’s cool, because I don’t write for everyone. I write primarily for myself. If others like it–and this 1-star review to the contrary, Little Deaths has been awfully well received, if I do say so–that’s great! If not, OK, not your cup of tea.
No, I’m not upset because I’ve actually been expecting this. I mean, come on, it’s bound to happen, really. I’ve got 4 two-star reviews. And all of these “bad” reviews say the same thing: slow, boring, endings that are incomprehensible. I get that. I really do. Even though Little Deaths is presented as a “horror” collection, the stories therein don’t fall into the “normal” horror conventions of gore, splatter and things jumping out at you. There aren’t really any zombie, vampire or werewolf stories in it. It’s a different take on horror, a more quiet, Twilight Zone kind of thing, and I know that this doesn’t appeal to those who want to see blood spray and body parts consumed. That’s OK, I just don’t write much of that.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you expect to write, if you expect to put your art out into the public, you have to be prepared for rejection. I think a lot of writers expect rejection to end when they actually have things published, but it doesn’t…not really. There are always going to be people who don’t like your stuff, some of it or all of it. And you have to be OK with that.
I am OK with it. In a weird way, these “negative” reviews make me believe in myself and what I’m doing even more. In a weird way, they legitimize the 5-star reviews I’ve received on Amazon.
Not that I like them, agree with them or want any more of them.
I’m pragmatic. Not crazy.
P.S. It’s just come to my attention that the “person” who left the review also left 63 others on the exact same day. Hmmm. Seems kind of spammy to me, so I reported it to Amazon.