GUEST POST: Should we give authors 1 star reviews? by M.L Sparrow

Today I have a really interesting a food for thought guest post all about whether reviewers should give authors 1 star reviews for their books. I can imagine this topic will cause some divide and a mix of opinions and that’s great – as long as we all respect each others’ individual opinion! Yu can also find information of M.L Sparrows book at the bottom of the post!

Are one star reviews fair? As both an author and a reviewer, I can see this argument from both sides of the fence, however, both parts of me rebel against one star reviews.

As an author I know how crushing and confidence destroying such a low rating can be, especially in the early stages of your career. It is doubly frustrating when given a one star rating without a proper review explaining why. Even if you don’t like a story, even if it’s riddled with errors or is simply not your style, the author has put their blood, sweat and tears into it. In many cases they have also poured in a lot of money that they may not make back for years.

I’m not saying that reviewers should not give bad reviews; honesty is always the best policy, however, I feel they should also be fair and tactful, understanding of all the time and effort that authors put into their work. Several times, I’ve read a book for my blog that I just can’t enjoy, however, if I find a book so awful that I’d consider giving a one star review, the chances are that I will stop reading it. In which case I won’t write a review, since I also don’t believe it’s fair to write a review for a book you didn’t complete.

All in all, I personally don’t think it’s fair to give any book a one star review. I feel it shows a lack of disregard for the work that has gone into a story, no matter your opinion of it.


Blurb: Japan, 2011

Taiyo is a normal high-school girl living with her Grandmother in Sendai. She goes to school, partakes in club activities and hangs out with her two best friends, twin brothers Ryuu and Kairi. However, her perfect world is shattered when she begins dating Kairi but quickly discovers she’s already in love with Ryuu.

A tangled web of lies surrounds the pair, but everything is suddenly knocked into perspective on March 11th when they are caught up in a natural disaster that devastates the country and robs thousands of their homes, their possessions and their lives… Links: Amazon | Goodreads | Website | Google + | Twitter | Facebook

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16 thoughts on “GUEST POST: Should we give authors 1 star reviews? by M.L Sparrow

  1. Pretty sure my heart and my head wouldn’t even let my write a review if I would think about giving it only one star. I realize perfectly well how much work authors have put into their stories and I would be the last one to even consider crushing them with a bad review.
    I haven’t been in that situation yet, though. I’ve been pretty lucky with the books I’ve been reading so far. The furthest I’d probably go, would be rambling for a teeny-tiny bit that I didn’t finish it just because it wasn’t up my alley. And this would be more to just let people know why I said I’d read a certain book, but never posted an actual review.

  2. Exactly my point on the point that if it’s a one star it’s probably a book you couldn’t finish and so can’t in all good conscience leave a review! Great post:)

  3. I received a one-star on Goodreads a few months back. My book is a memoir, a brutally honest account of my addiction to the Japanese culture in the 80’s and 90’s. The reviewer ripped me as a human being in a deeply personal way that shook me for days. As I am in my 50’s and well-past those days when I was young and stupid, it really shook me. I think it is particularly unfair to write such a commentary when an author is revealing less than favorable content about him/herself.

  4. If I buy a book and feel it deserves 1 star, that’s what I give it. Some books deserve 1 star; if they didn’t, the rating system would start with 2 stars.

    We have to be honest in our reviews. Our readers – the people that read the review as opposed to those that read the book – are smart enough to understand we will not all like every book the same.

    However, if an author friend gives me a book to review, I will tell them privately it’s going to earn less than four stars and ask if they’d like me to post the review anyway, usually explaining privately what they’d need to fix to receive 5 stars.

    Some fix it, some don’t.

    I rarely review books on Amazon anymore but many of the ones I review are going to be books that I really enjoyed, and you can take that like the good housekeeping seal. They don’t come out and tell you, “We didn’t give the good housekeeping seal to all these other products,” they just tell you who DID get their approval. Or like a running race, they don’t necessarily announce in the paper everybody who didn’t win a medal; they limit it to those who won.

    As far as crushing somebody, this is a business. I can say McDonald’s is better than Burger King in a way that doesn’t crush burger king’s feelings but Burger King needs to grow up, too. It’s a BUSINESS. Who cares if one person didn’t like your book? Did you marry everyone you dated? Are all 33 Baskin Robbins flavors your favorite?

    You can write reviews that don’t hurt and you can receive reviews that do.

    A bad review simply says all your good reviews weren’t written by your friends and family. Shrug it off and keep writing. If your book appeals to every single person who reads it, you aren’t reaching enough people.

    A bad review indicates your marketing was so good that people who wouldn’t like the book still give it a shot. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer. It might just mean you make terrific strawberry ice cream – and they only like chocolate.

  5. This is a good post and a difficult topic. As a writer, I find it a therapeutic response to bad reviews to go to famous books and see what their one stars look like. (Here’s a favorite sample.)

    https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/5205104?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

    I tell authors and publishers who send me books for review that if I can’t give three stars or above, they should take the book to another reviewer. I know the blood and tears that go into making a book, and I also know that I’m probably not the best reviewer for every book. “But wait,” you say. “Don’t you, O Book Reviewer, have a duty to your review-reading audience to warn them about the books that aren’t good?”

    Well, no.

    I have a duty to tell you about the ones I like, and what I like about them. But it’s incredibly hard and incredibly wonderful to finish writing a book. Just because I don’t like one, it doesn’t mean others will have the same objections. There may be millions of people (just look at all the Fifty Shades sales) who like books I loathe.

    Here’s the thing. The best—and worst—part about making the review process available to everyone is that the market can really help steer people to books they’d like. I turn down well over 80% of the review requests I get. I tell the authors I’m not a good fit to review their book and suggest they send it elsewhere. That’s not just me being polite. If there is a reader somewhere who can convincingly tell what they like about that book, then they are far more qualified to be its reviewer than I.

    So no, I won’t write that one-star review.

    But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t!

  6. I have to say I disagree. While I’ve only (as far as I recall) given one 1 star review, and a handful of 2 star ones I do feel all of them were accurate and justified. Most of my ratings are 3 star or higher but where a book has been particularly badly written or, in some cases, should never have been published then it deserves, in my opinion an appropriate review and rating. The books I have rated poorly I have read to the end and I have also written reviews and explained why I rated them as I did. I would never rate a book I had not finished or write a silly, unhelpful one line comment for a book that I rated 1 star but I will rate 1 star where I feel it is justified because to do otherwise would be dishonest.

  7. While I completely understand and agree with your points, I have to admit that if a reviewer is able to provide solid insight as to why they would rate a book so low (without just bashing and ranting) then I cannot fault them for a one star rating. However, I moved away from star ratings on the site for this very reason. I agree that we must be aware of what goes into a book. I do offer ratings on retail sites but generally a one star is a DNF and I do not review work I do not finish. Great post ☺

  8. I say as long as your honest in your review and give proper justification for it then you should post any number of start you see fit. But at the same time, if a publisher or author has sent me a book and my review is less than three stars, I usually reach out and let them know it wasn’t exactly for me and I don’t think my review would be beneficial for promotion. I usually only give 1 star reviews (of which I’ve given less than a handful) to well established books and authors that won’t be hurt by my honest opinion.
    The most important thing to remember is that reviews are just one persons opinion, and not every book is for every person, so a one star book for you could be a 5 star for a lot of other people. As long as people and authors remember that while reading reviews (assuming they aren’t intentionally there to bash the book), one star reviews can show possible readers what problems some people have with the book and steer away people that wouldn’t have liked it anyway. Then, more of the people who end up reading it will love it, and the overall rating of the book will go up

  9. To be completely honest I do actually think it’s necessary to give 1 star reviews sometimes, a rating out of 5 is such a short scale that i think we need to use the whole of it and everybody should know that a review is 100% opinion based so if we aren’t completely honest about our opinions then what’s the point? I agree that we need to be sensitive and bear in mind the time, effort and money that went into creating a book but if you’re going to give your opinion then you should be honest about it.

    Jess x
    http://www.acornlifefitness.com

  10. If someone didn’t like my books and wishes to leave a 1 star it’s their right an opinion. The only problem I have is when the people get particularly nasty about it, and instead of having any constructive to say, they just bash me. I’ve even had people bash not my writing or the book, but me personally, like they know me and the type of person I am when they are a complete stranger, and are wrong about what they think they know.

  11. A great topic, interesting to see such different reactions! Can see this is a big dilemma for some. I’d hate to give a 1-star review unless I thought the book was effing awful and lacked any saving graces… and should have a lot more work put in to it. Fortunately I don’t review many books, only ones which appeal a lot in the first place, and haven’t read a published one that bad. If it was I’d just abandon it.

  12. I have had that experience of someone giving a one-star review on my debut novel, simply because she couldn’t understand it. Meanwhile, everyone else who has read it does understand it. So therefore, you have to really wonder where your mind is coming from on all that, and whether it’s really worth give one star.

  13. I read many books of different genres but I only write reviews on the books that I can honestly give a 3, 4, or 5 star review. Why? Do I lack the courage to give a book a 1 or 2 rating? Absolutely not, I just don’t see the value in doing that. If I honestly think the book was poorly written and I really wanted to help the writer I would contact the writer and let them know my personal opinion. If the issue is that the book was not my cup of tea, well, that doesn’t mean I should give it a bad rating. No book is loved by all, no matter how beautifully written it is. There are far too many people out there that take pleasure in crushing other people’s dreams, it makes them feel superior somehow or maybe giving other writers terrible ratings makes them feel better about themselves. I’ve seen people leave 1 star book reviews and as if that wasn’t crushing enough they write horrible things like, ‘It’s garbage!’ or ‘What a waste of money!’ It really makes me think about the real motive behind the review. If a book had an entertaining plot but issues with the writing, giving it a 3 rating and writing a professional (not personal or vicious) review with constructive criticism is more than enough and will help the author improve.

  14. Personally I’ve never given anyone a one star review. I tend to be very careful what I read, (I check reviews, talk to bookish people,) so I’m quite good at judging what I will like. If a book turned out to be really that bad I’d just stop reading it. Why waste precious reading time reading bad books? No thanks.

  15. Maybe this sounds callous, but while I can appreciate how much work goes into writing a book, that shouldn’t have any bearing on how I review it or what I rate it. (Provided I’m not being vicious, and instead being constructive, obviously.) If i think the book deserves 1 star, I should be able to give it one star. Our reviews aren’t for the authors, they’re for other readers.

    Most people work hard when they create, but that doesn’t automatically make it beautiful to everyone. And it shouldn’t have to. That’s the beauty of differing opinions.

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