My latest novel The Phoenix Codex released late last October. It hasn’t gotten a ton of Amazon reviews, but I appreciate every one. And I’ve been very lucky with them so far.

I don’t say “lucky” out of false modesty. I think it’s a good book, and I certainly tried hard to make it one. But no book is for everybody, which is why people can make perfectly legitimate criticisms about any book out there.

There are certain types of reviews, though, that can really annoy authors.

As problems go, bad reviews are trivial. I thought I’d talk about them, anyway, so that published authors can nod in agreement and feel validated, and future published authors can be warned that you’re going to get some squirrelly reviews and it’s normal.


The 5 Amazon Reviews Authors Hate #the worst amazon reviews #how to deal with bad reviews #writers #writing #books


1. The “Why Did You Read it?” Review

Let’s say you wrote a book about outer space. It has “alien” in the title. And there’s a spaceship on the cover, just in case readers still weren’t sure what they were getting into.

Then you get a review that says, “I’m not a fan of outer space stories and I didn’t like all the aliens.”

Why did the reader pick up the book? Who knows?

This happens a lot with romance writers. They can put a half-naked man on the cover and talk about sex in the blurb, but they’ll still get readers complaining about the sex. (Conversely, even if they have a bunch of daisies on the cover and no suggestion of sex in the blurb, they’ll get complaints if there’s no sex.)

This is still a perfectly fair review, of course. Someone read the book, and they didn’t like it.



2. The “Not My Fault” Review

“I bought the paperback from a third party vendor and it arrived damaged. 1 star.”

“Amazon declined my credit card for no good reason!! Zero stars!!”

Okay, this type of review really isn’t fair to the author. It’s not your fault she bought your book secondhand…you prefer people to buy it new, to be honest. It’s not your fault he had trouble with his Amazon account. It’s worth at least asking Amazon to remove this type of review.


3. The “Amazing Book! Three Stars!” Review

Sometimes an author will get an enthusiastic review with a 3-star rating. I think most of us consider 3 stars an average rating, like a C in school, so it doesn’t feel like it matches up with gushing praise.

I imagine what’s going on here is that the reader likes to be positive, and also likes to save 4-star ratings for just a few books, and has only given zero to one 5-star rating in her life. That’s reasonable.

Although I’ve heard complaints about this kind of review — we authors are only human — it’s not such a bad thing. And if the Amazon algorithms choose the three-star review as the “most helpful critical review,” and it’s not at all critical, it’s pretty hilarious.


4. The Factually Incorrect Review

The review says your main character is a nurse. She’s a doctor. It says she travels to France. She travels to Senegal. It says someone gets murdered. Nobody does.

In this case, the reviewer is probably just remembering the book wrong. He might even be getting it mixed up with another book he read at around the same time.

This type of review amuses some authors. But it can sometimes make an author worry that potential readers will get the wrong idea of the book. Fortunately, more people are going to pay attention to the plot as it’s laid out in the blurb.



5. The Personal Attack

I’ve seen this happen, and unlike the others in this list, it’s really bad.

The review goes up on release day. It’s not a verified purchase, and it says nothing specific about the book. It just calls the author a terrible writer and a shallow, vicious, or immoral person.

This can be the result of personal disagreements or grudges that have nothing to do with the book.  The author may have a pretty good idea of who left the review, or he may have no clue.

In either case, it’s worth reaching out to Amazon and asking for the review to be removed, since it has nothing to do with the book.

Even if Amazon doesn’t remove the review, most reasonable readers will recognize that the review doesn’t contain substantial criticism, even if it does pull down your rating.

Dale Carnegie famously said:

“Nobody kicks a dead dog.”

And it’s true. The more successful you get, the more harsh criticism you’re going to get.

Reviews like these are sometimes inspired by rabid jealousy. If somebody can’t stand your achievement, use it as a motivation to achieve even more.


The 5 Amazon Reviews Authors Hate #the worst amazon reviews #how to deal with bad reviews #writers #writing #books


Has a review ever driven you bananas or gotten under your skin? Have you ever gotten a funny or mystifying one? Let us know in the comments! Happy writing, and I hope you have a 5-star week!