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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth Epely

6 Reasons Why I (As An Author) Don't Leave 1 Star Reviews

As an author, we've all been there. We love our work. It came out of our brains, our hearts, our imaginations, and someone, somewhere isn't going to like it. We don't have to be everyone's cup of tea all the time, but bad reviews can really hurt. As a reader, sometimes there are books I dislike, books I outright hate and sometimes books that I can't even finish, and that's okay.

So why don't I leave 1 star reviews?

1. It's like trashing a colleague.

Because I'm an author/writer, other authors and writers are my colleagues. I wouldn't speak badly about one of them at a convention. I wouldn't criticize their work at their table, and I certainly wouldn't want them to do the same to me. (That being said, there's a difference between trashing someone and giving respectful, constructive criticism.) In my opinion leaving a 1-star review is the equivalent of trashing someone's work and by extension them as well.

2. Just because I don't like something doesn't mean it's "bad" or people shouldn't read it.

Nothing is going to be for everyone, and just because something wasn't "my cup of tea" doesn't mean that no one should read it. I'm not a big fan of epic fantasy *Gasp* or westerns (among others), but I would never leave a 1-star review simply because something was in that genre. Someone else might absolutely love epic fantasy (like my good friend Cori) or westerns. I would never want to steer someone away from something that they might really enjoy simply because I didn't like it. Every book has an audience, I may just not be the audience for that work!

3. I can be constructive in a review without giving a 1 star rating.

As I said in my first point, there's a difference between constructive criticism and trashing someone's work. I participate in a writing group where we critique each other's work regularly. In that space, I consistently read works that I'm unfamiliar with the genre, where something isn't 100% polished and ready to go to publication, in a review, I can give the same kind of feedback. If I found a typo, or a character feels flat, even if I can't get into the work itself, I can address that in a better way than a 1-star review. In fact, leading to my next point, if there's a significant issue with a work, it's probably best to address that in private!

4. If I feel like there are major/serious issues with a book/work or it's content, it's probably best to address that privately with the author rather than in a public space.

Would you want a colleague or co-worker to out your major mistake in front of your customers? Would you want them to do it in front of your boss? Their spouse? Anyone? I feel the same. It's embarrassing to be called out in front of everyone. Instead, if I find a major flaw in a book, say a plot hole I could drive a semi-truck through (we've all found one or two!) It would be so much better to respectually send an email, a private message on your chosen social media platform, or even a snail mail letter than to write a scathing review and bring it to the public's attention. Sometimes, it just pays to be nice.

5. I never want to be the reason another writer feels discouraged or stops writing.

Some authors have thick skin built from the hide of dragons, others have thinner skin, made from the gossamer of fairy wings. Everyone is unique and their viewpoints on the world are just as valid and critical as yours or mine. You see, I don't ever want to be the reason someone quits writing or creating. Writing as much as it can be a fantastic career for someone, can also be their most precious creative outlet for their trauma, emotions, etc., and I would never want to take that away from someone with a negative review that causes them to doubt themselves. We were all beginners once. And let's be honest, no matter how thick your skin is, when someone is less than kind, it hurts.

6. It's just not kind.

I teach my kids the Golden Rule. It stands here, I want constructive criticism, in fact, I live for it, I want you to find my mistakes. It makes me a better writer. It makes me a better person, but when I get my first 1 star review (and I know it's coming.) It's still going to hurt. It's going to make me question myself, and I hope that they are kind. It's not hard to be nice to people, so just remember, before you hit that submit button on your latest Goodreads review (or any other platform), ask yourself, "Am I being kind?" If not, maybe consider taking a chance to revise it to make the criticism constructive and kind.

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