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FridayFix • One-Star Reviews

ARealGirl and I were lucky enough to be invited by our buddy Jonathan Maberry‘s “Writers Coffeehouse” event at Mysterious Galaxy Books in San Diego. Lots of hungry writers looking for ways to improve their craft and find a way into the biz. One of the questions that came up was, “How do you handle negativity about you or your works on social media?”

That’s something we know quite a bit about. From the early days of my writing career where I made the mistake of engaging with unhappy readers, to our current attitude of “let it roll,” our philosophy of how to react has evolved quite a bit. In this podcast, ARealGirl and spend about 30 minutes talking about what we think is the “correct” way to handle such issues, and we give some guidance on what can happen to creatives if they choose to spray their oh-so-important opinion all over the internets.

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  1. Stuart_McTuff

    I think this was one of the best discussions I’ve listened to on your Friday Fix. I wish I would have learned this lesson much earlier in life. I am also small and tend to be very angry. I’ve learned over the years, and many wasted days, there’s too much loss when I engage people who are wrong. 🙂

  2. jokerdas

    As a product consumer, I do rely pretty heavily on ratings to assist in my purchases. Those reviews talk about functionality, durability, etc. As a reader, I rely very little on the ratings. An individual’s tastes are far to unique for me to use it as an accurate indicator of will I or will I not enjoy a story.

    Now, the recommendations by authors I currently enjoy, hold more influence for me. This tells me that this new creator is appreciated (or NOT appreciated) by someone whom I already enjoy, so I am more likely to enjoy it.

    If I invest my time to read a book, then I must have already had some idea if I would like it, otherwise I would not have experienced it. In that case, stories are a lot like pizza for me, even a bad pizza is still pretty good pizza.

    One comment Scott said, that I disagree with (GASP!!!) is if it is not worth 5 stars, it is not work rating. I will not rate a story with anything less than 3 stars. If is less than that, then I will not rate it. For me the ratings are more for the author to let them know what I think of the work, instead of influencing other readers.

    One final note, don’t underestimate the Hulk smash! That crap can get the job done when “a dominatrix and some random dude with a bow” have to fight “Loki, the Norse God of Crabs” or more currently, a bunch or robots.

  3. sadock

    I rarely post reviews, but I do rate all the books I read on Goodreads, more for my own reference than anything else. The biggest complaint I have is that sites generally fail to provide an explicit definition of what any particular star level means. I use Netflix’s definitions if there’s not a different one provided.

    I do feel a certain social responsibility to share if I discover an audiobook that is done exceptionally well or poorly. I know I’d want someone else to do the same in my position. Isn’t that the whole point of reviews? Sharing with the community to enrich the overall experience and help people avoid bad apples.

    As long as you stick to the facts, isn’t that doing a good thing? I understand what y’all are saying about writers not wanting to shoot themselves in the foot. That makes sense. But I’d also expect the senior author to be mature enough to appreciate honest, objective criticism if it did not contain any personal vitriol. What I heard you implying is that, more often than not, saying anything negative about a co-workers creation would come back to bite you in the ass, even if it was true.

    Perhaps I’m just naive & overly optimistic 🙁

  4. Grace McDermott

    I love when I get one (or low) star reviews, because people have read the second book before the first, or grabbed one of the short stories without reading the main series first.

    I always just laugh them off. 🙂

    1. scottsigler

      Grace: Yeah, that’s always an issue. I campaigned so hard with Crown Publishing to market CONTAGIOUS as a sequel, and they insisted on pushing it as a stand-alone novel. Same with PANDEMIC. Their choice, but it didn’t work for me, and I feel it made for confused readers.

      Who can blame a reader for being pissed when they read CONTAGIOUS and don’t understand a good chunk of what’s going on, because they didn’t know there was a book before it?

      1. Grace McDermott

        The only logic I can come up with is something along the lines of: “ooh, if we trick people into buying Book #2, they’ll HAVE to purchase the first one as well!”. Instead of realising that, no, it’ll likely just piss off the reader into never picking up anything by that author again.

        Didn’t you also get some of that when Ancestor was released – people thinking it was part of the Infected trilogy?

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