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  • Writer's pictureDev Friedlander

The Blessing of A One-Star Review

On March 19th, 2020 it seemed like my world stopped turning. Stores were ordered to shut down, schools closed, and people were told to stay indoors to help end the spread of the contagious, and sometimes deadly Coronavirus (Covid-19). Six months later my world remained stagnant, as we were forced into another lockdown where I live. Every day I run around on what feels like a hamster wheel; a hamster wheel some experts claim we may never find a way to exit.

Yet time isn’t standing still. I have celebrated my 15th wedding anniversary, birthdays, good times, and bad. My kids have kept up their schooling and I have kept on writing. Like a gift from heaven, my book has kept selling. I’ve also had to deal with deadlines, rejection letters, and even my first one-star review.

I received an announcement of the one-star review while in the middle of managing my profile on LinkedIn. The notification bell let me know that I had a new review waiting for me on Goodreads. Eagerly, I opened the link. “Boring and repetitive,” were among the reader’s choice adjectives to describe my book, followed by the low star ranking.

My first instinct was to reach for the tissues. It stung to have my hard work downgraded. After I finished throwing myself a pity party, I searched the web to see if bad reviews were common. My research revealed that nearly every author has readers that disapprove of their work.

A notable book blogger called Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, “boring, the characters unrelatable.” Another reader referred to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter as “exhausting, disjointed and dated.” Even the bestselling Da Vinci Code and beloved classic Little Women all have people giving the books a thumbs down.

While it was nice to know my misery shared great company, it was also an inverted blessing for me. It meant that my work had traveled beyond the small circle of friends and family and had caught the interest of strangers. A wide audience is what I always had longed for and this one-star review was a confirmation that I had succeeded. I read a saying once that went something like this: “when you open the door for light, many things come through.” This sometimes includes hurtful comments and bad reviews.

There is another benefit to a disappointing review. It reminded me that feelings are temporary. That the failure and despair I felt would go away, and it did. Right after the bad review, a supporter sent me a message, letting me know that they enjoyed my work and not to let the review get me down. Their kind words helped me to get back on my laptop once again, and to begin forming new plot lines and developing characters.

I’d like to take this moment as an opportunity to say thank you to my wonderful supporters! You are the light in my doorway. Your support and encouragement have helped me to keep moving and to keep striving. I hope one day soon, the Coronavirus will be a tragic event that we can look back on and talk about in the past tense. Until then, we must keep reminding ourselves that somehow, someway, this too shall pass.

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