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One Star?! Say It Ain't So!
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I've spent way too much time online this week, what with all the hilarity over Amazon One-Star Reviews. I was first alerted to this by the fabulous J.D. Rhoades (Dusty to his friends, but I'm pretty sure nobody who's ever met Dusty wasn't able to call him friend in about 1.2 seconds [which also happens to be the time it takes to open a beer; total coincidence, I'm sure]) in his post titled My God! It's Full of Suck!

Now, a lot has been written about the whole Debra McGillivray thing, and if you want to take days out of your life that you will never get back, well, go ahead and follow all those links in his post. But what the fine John Scalzi finally reduces it all down to is a challenge to acknowledge your one-star Amazon reviews, and then get past them.

So. I've gotten two one-star reviews for Catching Genius. I know! Crazy right? I mean, I was pretty sure that Catching Genius was going to save contemporary American fiction, and the fact that these readers were unable to see my brilliance was devastating. The first:

4 of 9 people found the following review helpful:

1.0 out of 5 stars Weak Main Character/Unrealistic, July 24, 2007


GIJANE "Loves Labs & cooking."http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/x-locale/common/icons/drop-down-icon-small-empty-arrow._V13355991_.gif (Nottingham, PA) - See all my reviews

I don't understand how any woman could enjoy this book. The main character allows her husband to repeatedly cheat on her and she does nothing until he basically flaunts it! I also find it hard to believe that a few weeks of vacation would change a lifetime of problems and resentments among family members.

OUCH! Really? Not ANY woman? Wow, I mean, that's bad. That is really, really bad! GIJANE really hates me! She loves labs and cooking, but clearly hates me. Or, my book anyway, which really IS me, right? Maybe not. Anyway, one of the big things that McGillivray was lambasted for was for supposedly tracking down the reviewer who slammed her, noting that she knew her name, her kid's names, her granny's name, and so forth.

So, uh, full disclosure. I've always felt that if I could just understand my detractors then I could live with their dislike of me/my book. And so, in the spirit of trying to understand who GIJANE is, I do admit that I checked out her Wishlist. I didn't look at the Wishlist in order to harass her, or to try to get my friends to harass her, or to publicly threaten (no matter how thinly) her, her kids, or her granny. I didn't even vote her review unhelpful.

I just had to know a little more about this person who hated my book so much that she couldn't understand how ANY woman could enjoy it. And, frankly, what I learned made me feel much, much better. I learned that she gave The Departed a two-star review. Had I rated that movie I'd have given it a twenty-two star review. She also wishes she had a metal detector, and Timecop, and she likes Shania Twain and thrillers, but doesn't like anything sad (though she gave that classic of uplifting stories, The Lovely Bones, FIVE stars!).

Anyone who actually knows me is cracking up right now. GIJANE and I are not soul mates. My God, of course she doesn't like my book! We couldn't possibly be less alike! Hey, I'm good with ole GIJANE, though I admit I still take exception to her assertion that things got all worked out in a few weeks. And those few weeks weren't no vacation, but I digress...I'm not mad, I don't hate her, don't even dislike her, and I have, mostly, forgotten about that review. I'm not sending the flying monkeys, we just have very, very different tastes.

One-Star Review, Take Two:

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful:

1.0 out of 5 stars drawn out and tiresome, January 14, 2008



J. Mogol http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/x-locale/common/icons/drop-down-icon-small-empty-arrow._V13355991_.gif - See all my reviews

I couldn't wait for this book to end. It was too long and had too many plots. It was too loosely woven for me to enjoy. I was surprised to see so many positive reports, but I didn't have too much positive to say.

No. No, she did not have much positive to say.

Oh, J.Mogol, it hurts, it hurts. Couldn't WAIT for it to end? Yowza! Why didn't you stop reading? I'd have been okay with that! Honestly, in a totally non-snarky, no hard feelings way. Too long, too many plots, hmmm, again, I'd kind of like to disagree with those. I was pretty sure it was ONE plot, but okay, let's see where J. is coming from.


Aha! She wishes she could own CDs by Taylor Hicks and Clay Aiken, as well as the DVD Aladdin (Disney Special Platinum Edition). See? Now I don't feel so bad! We're simply not compatible in any way, shape, or form.

I'd be willing to bet that GIJANE and J.Mogul are lovely people. I bet they love their families (and/or labs) and are loved in return. Do I wish they'd liked my book? Of course I do. Do I wish they'd been slightly more kind in their comments? Of course I do.

But I got into this knowing full well that not everyone was going to like what I do. I hope more do than don't. Writers I revere have one-star reviews. Writers I can't stand have five-star reviews. We all have different tastes, and thank goodness. What a boring world it would be if we all liked the same thing.

I'm over it. After all, Matters of Faith will be out in August, and I have new things to obsess over, new one-star reviews to dread, and hopefully a lot of five-star reviews to make me feel better about it.

Up for the challenge? Blog about your One-Star Reviews and then leave the link in the comments. Or don't. Because I completely respect your right to do, and like, you know, whatever you want. But if you leave mean comments, well, just hope I don't find YOUR Wishlist!

5 Comment count
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I thought I'd send you mine

This was just posted on a book of mine that came out in 2006.  Certainly made my day!

 0 of 1 people found the following review helpful: 1.0 out of 5 stars Yawn, April 28, 2008 By Cin Dee (Texas) - See all my reviewsThis review is from: When You Believe (The Believe Trilogy, Book 1) (Paperback) This book was so boring, about a third of the way through the book I started skipping paragraphs here and there just to hurry up and finish.

Here's the link for more details:  http://www.amazon.com/review/product/0821780816/ref=cm_cr_dp_synop?%5Fencoding=UTF8&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending#R2SMNW1J6WBM5K

I suppose I"m supposed to go out and chew her up and spit her out, but I don't think I will.  If it bored her, well, I hope she got some coffee soon afterward!



Jessica Barksdale Inclan www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com

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Eat your heart out

As you can see here: http://www.bookfinder.com/search/?st=re&ac=pg&qi=.wb8r,DB22uT0L1NFmj5oHp...

...my novel, Plasma Dreams, is fetching as high as $101. This is interesting, since the book is still in print, and can be had directly from the publisher for $21.95. Such stratospheric prices are usually reserved for out of print books by famous dead authors. Either this figure is a misprint, or I'm a famous dead author and haven't been notified. I'd appreciate any Red Room denizen to help me verify whether I'm dead or famous yet.


Eric The Still Living As Far As I Can Tell


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We are having a field day with the critics aren't we? What painful fun. I think we writers should fight back. I was thinking about a formal website where writers can talk back instead of being sitting ducks. It looks like redroom.com is a good place to do so. I wonder if Huntington Sharp could help us set up a forum here.

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My fight's been fought...

Ha! Well, I was going for more of a peaceful coexistence with them, you know, understanding that they're human and that people simply have different tastes and all. I tried to NOT fall into the McGillivray solution, but rather to acknowledge the fact that yes, I do read them, they do hurt, but that we can't put ourselves in the public eye and not expect some people to throw a tomato or two (and I really hate tomatoes-- squishy, dreadful things).  

But I do find the debate of the whole thing fun. Anyone can now review anything (and I don't think they shouldn't be able to) and so they, too, are placing themselves and their work in the public eye. If we are open to criticism because we've put ourselves out there, then are they not also subject to criticism? Or at least an acknowledgement that their work has been seen. If I am to accept their criticism graciously, taking the high road, and acknowledging that we have different tastes, then perhaps they should do so also.

Of course the real point of the One-Star Challenge is completely selfish. Because, after all, it's really all about US! The point is that eventually we're all going to face someone we simply can't make happy, no matter how hard we work, or how great our talent and we can either pretend we don't see it and continue to let it hurt us, or we can throw it out there, say out loud, "YES, I SAW THE DAMN UGLY THING AND I'M NOT HAPPY ABOUT IT!" perhaps make a joke or two, and then move on.  

I'm movin' on, baby...