This blog is a safe space for me to speak honestly about all aspects of writing, and this week I want to talk about something that many writers don’t – one-star reviews.
I understand why authors don’t want to talk about them. A one-star review feels a bit like being stabbed through the chest with a blunt object. That sounds uncomfortable, right? Unfortunately for authors, it’s a necessary part of the writing process. It would be weird if we all liked the same stuff, and reviews are an important tool in helping readers navigate the abundance of choice. I knew how it worked going into this – it’s one of the reasons I was so terrified of publishing. While I have been fortunate to have had only a few readers absolutely HATE my first effort, enough to leave a one-star rating, it certainly will not be the last time it happens.
Right now I am working on becoming more resilient. I’m growing a thicker skin. How does one do this? I can’t speak for other authors (the ones with good sense and self-control over their sugar and booze intake), but I’ve been reading all of the one-star reviews of my favourite authors, and its proving to be a helpful tactic. Seeing authors who I have on my bookshelf, being torn apart by their readers, and then getting on with the business of writing more books, is extraordinary.
So, I thought I would share a few quotes from some of the most scathing one-star reviews I have come across during my resilience training. These are pretty savage, so if you are offended by swearing, you should probably watch this video of cute puppies instead. My mouth no longer dries up with fear when I read these, which indicates progress. But in an attempt to tone it down, and hold onto my PG blog rating for a little while longer, I have exchanged the really offensive phrases with the word ‘chicken’.
If you’re still with me, good for you. Below are my top five one-star scathing review quotes.
Please note: I have not named the reviewers for fear that they will find me and review my books – I’m not that resilient yet.
5. Slammed by Colleen Hoover
This is a book about poetry
That doesn’t like to show us things
It tells us it’s speshul
It tells us it’s different
When really it’s just the same old ‘chicken’.
4. Fallen by Lauren Kate
‘[The characters] do nothing but wander around, angst, ‘chicken’ each other over passive-aggressively, whine, angst some more, ‘chicken’ each other over some more, whine again, kiss like something from a cheap Harlequin knock-off and then BAM! Get on a private plane and fly straight into the core of the sun.
Oh, if only I were so lucky.’
3. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
‘This book was a ‘chicken’ing slog.
That probably sounds strange coming from someone who read the entirety of The Divine Comedy three times for sport, but damn; I’ll take biblical poetry any day over this ‘chicken’ wreck.’
2. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
‘WHAT THE ‘CHICKEN’ IS THIS RAPEY, ABUSE-APOLOGIST BULL’CHICKEN’ERY? I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M MORE UPSET ABOUT, THAT IT’S IN HERE, THAT I ACTUALLY LIKED THIS ‘CHICKEN’ING DOUCHECOPTER AT FIRST, OR THAT I’M SUPPOSED TO JUST “GET OVER IT” LIKE HIS WIFE DOES, VALIDATE HIS ABUSE, LIKE HIS WIFE DOES, AND IMMEDIATELY FORGIVE HIM, LIKE HIS WIFE DOES. ‘
1. The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons
‘Jesus ‘chicken’ing rollerblading Christ.
You wanna read a book about two of the most self-centered ‘chickens’ in the history of literature? READ THIS BOOK.
Self-centered ‘chicken’ sadist with a hero complex meets self-centered ‘chicken’ masochist with princess syndrome. They fall in love and their theme song is ‘CHICKEN’ EVERYONE ELSE. They’ll probably dance to it at the wedding, wide smiles on their ‘chicken’ faces as they ‘chicken’ing tango across the graves of those they sacrificed on the altar of their love.’
Not entirely sure what to follow that up with. Haters gonna hate, right? I really hope that when my turn comes, I remember that I’m not offended by swearing, and I find the courage to open my laptop and keep writing.