One Bad Review

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Once a novel is published and people have begun to read it, most writers would beg, borrow and steal to get good reviews. And because any publicity is good publicity (supposedly), some writers would even beg, borrow and steal for any review at all.

Since publishing Enemies Closer in 2012, I’ve had several reviews, fewer than I would like, but almost exclusively positive. Here are the highlights:
“Couldn’t put it down. I want a sequel now!”
“A fantastic read! I was hooked from the beginning. Written well, great characters and character development. Very exciting, thoroughly enjoyed!”
“A brilliant read sitting on edge of my seat, full of intrigue and interesting characters…Big thumbs up!”
“Intriguing and compelling…lead characters are strong, sassy… four stars”
“A good first read for the genre…four stars”
“Engrossed…five stars”
“This book by new author L.E. Truscott is well worth a download – a good read from beginning to end – enjoy! Five stars”

Perhaps the most pleasing thing about these comments is that half of them have come from people I don’t know. The other half are from friends and family who I begged to post reviews (borrowing and stealing aren’t really my style), although I will add that I asked only for honest reviews, not necessarily positive ones, even though they all were.

In an attempt to get more sales and more reviews, I added Enemies Closer to the Goodreads website and ran a couple of on-site advertisements. It has been added to reading lists a couple of dozen times and at the end of 2014, I finally received my first Goodreads review. Sort of.

No words. No explanation. Just a one star rating. Anyone familiar with Goodreads will know their star rating system is pretty generous. Even two stars means “it was okay”. But one star is definitively a bad rating.

Because it was my first and only Goodreads rating, anyone who looked at the entry for Enemies Closer would see that one star rating. I did what any writer would do: rang a friend who had read the book to tell her triumphantly that I had my first rating on Goodreads before self-deprecatingly admitting it was only one star. She did what all good friends do, immediately logging on to Goodreads and posting a five star rating for Enemies Closer to even out the average. To this day, those two ratings are the only two my debut novel has garnered on that site.

Perhaps the strangest part is that I don’t actually mind getting a one star review. What I mind is that the person posting the rating didn’t explain why he felt my book was only worthy of the lowest possible rank. Goodreads has the capacity for both ratings and reviews and, dammit, I want to know why!

Personally, I don’t give any credit to one star or five star ratings that don’t have an accompanying review to tell me why the book was respectively so bad or so good. This is especially true of five star ratings because people seem to give them out willy nilly. However, I am not confident that anyone else is as shrewd as I am in this regard.

My friend told me I should contact my one star rater and simply ask for an explanation. I’m not that much of an obsessive though. Close, but not quite. Instead, I am left to wonder endlessly and pointlessly.

I will instead issue this plea to my fellow readers on behalf of all writers out there. When posting a star rating for a book you’ve read, please also post a review, even if it’s just a few lines. It will save a lot of writers the heartbreak…of simply not knowing.

Postscript
Anyone who has read my five star Goodreads review of The Fictional Woman by Tara Moss (also posted on the Book Review section of this blog) will know how much I enjoyed her book. Pleasingly, Tara Moss herself is one of the people who has read my review, which I know because she liked my review on Goodreads. When I got that notification, I was so excited to have connected with a fellow writer in that way, even if it was as a reader.

So, I reiterate, please post reviews – to prevent endless wondering and possibly to make a connection that you never even imagined possible.

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