I’ve recently gotten a few 1 star reviews on You Called 9-1-1 For What? from readers complaining that the ebook was “waste of my money” or “too short, not worth the money.” Other than the “too short” comment, their review amounts to nothing critical of the content, just that they had to pay a little money and didn’t feel it was worth it.
Now when I read these reviews I don’t weep into my hands while crying out, “Why me! Why me!”
I usually ask myself three things about these readers:
Did they actually READ the description? – I think the description I provide is a pretty accurate representation of the book. For that matter, I’ve recently added an Introduction that specifically explains the book is a mix of history and humor, it’s not exclusively one or the other. When I get the 1 star reviews saying that the book isn’t funny, I suspect that they found the book in a category and purchased it relatively blindly. I can accept that, because only half the book is actually humorous in nature… and doom on them for not reading what they were buying first.
How much do people actually EXPECT for $.99? – I wonder if they understand the value of the word. When I first started writing for magazines, I was paid $.05 a word per article. This eventually worked up to $.10 as both my experience and quality grew. Using those formulas, at 10,000 words for the ease of math, it should be priced at either $500 or $1,000. Now I’m a realistic person (and understand the difference in pricing between consumers and advertising supported models), and so pricing it at $.99 actually values each word at $.000099. I don’t know about you, but that seems to be a pretty good deal if you ask me. You’re paying $.01 for 100 words. Where else can you get 100 of ANY quantity for one penny? Where? Tell me. Hell, you can’t even get a coffee from the bodega for less than TWO quarters! So really, what do people expect for $.99?
How many other reviews have they done? – It is absolutely AMAZING how many 1-star reviews are the ONLY review a reviewer has submitted. On one hand that kind of makes me feel good! My ebook was life changing enough to get this person off their ass to submit a review! Or it’s a bogus review from a bogus account. Whateva.
So yeah, those cheap pop 1-star reviews, they don’t bother me that much. The 1-star reviews (or any star review for that matter) that DO get to me are the ones that are more substantive in their wording. The ones that may describe a section as “half-baked” or “rushed”, and when I look I see exactly what they mean. It can be hard to truly critique your own work without being too over critical. When you do become over critical that threatens your ability to deliver the product at all, so it’s important not to become that way. This is why substantive 1-star and 2-star reviews are as important as the 4 or 5-star reviews, because they can help you improve the product.
Which is why there’s now a Second Edition of You Called 9-1-1 For What?. Those of you who have purchased it should have gotten an e-mail from Amazon announcing the availability of an update along with instructions on how to get it. It’s actually a pretty simple process once you realize that you can simply filter the content for your Kindle through the drop down box for “Available for Update“:
A couple clicks later, and you’ll be cruising with the newest reformatted edition!
Thank the substantive 1 and 2-star reviews, not those whiny illiterate trolls.