I decided to do a bit of spring cleaning, headed to Goodreads to trim my TBR stack. There I came across a horrible case where an author’s meltdown after a one star review avalanched into a massive shitstorm and ended up ruining their book sales.
Most of the books in my TBR have average ratings above 4, so a book with a rating of 1.51 stuck out like a sore thumb. It had a nice cover, which made it all the more curious. So I clicked to see what was going on, scrolled down to see the Goodreads community questions and there I found my answer.
As it appears, a reader gave the book a ranty one star review and stated the author used the characters to convey propaganda about their socio-economical views. They also criticized some language misuse. The author wrote a long and whiny comment in response where he insulted the reviewer and it exploded from there. Other people wrote angry comments (one of the one star reviews has 900+ comments under it!), the author wrote more heated replies, which resulted in people organizing brigade campaigns to rain one star ratings on the book.
Judging from the statistics of the ratings, people shared screenshots of the abusive replies from the author and it went viral in book reviewer communities, which resulted in the book getting downvoted into oblivion.
The author realized his mistake and deleted the awful comments, but it was too late.
I am not going to link to that book page or share the screenshots, for the details and identities do not matter.
Word to the wise: Never, ever reply to negative reviews for your book! Refrain from answering any sort of criticism on public forums. Let the positive reviews speak for themselves. So long you have enough number of 4 and 5 stars, a few one star reviews are not going to do much damage.
In the age of social media, getting all worked up about a couple of one star reviews is certainly not a good idea. That one star will turn into a thousand one stars in no time if you get involved and spark a drama war. Just don’t do it. Great literary classics, cult icon books and popular books with huge fandoms all have a whole bunch of one star reviews.
Besides, according to some studies, bad reviews boost sales of unknown authors. Here is the link to the Harvard Business Review article explaining the phenomenon: