One-star reviews aren’t pleasant, but they can be useful

I got my first review for Desert Bound earlier this week‌—‌and it was a 1-star. Disappointing, but it happens. Someone bought the book, and it wasn’t for them.

But that wasn’t the case. The review was nothing about the book itself. In fact, the review implied that the reviewer hadn’t even read the book, or bought it.

Instead, the review complained that it ‘says you can order paperback, but it only sells on kindle NO option for paperback!’

This confused me, because Desert Bound is available in both formats. As I write this, I can see a paperback copy on my shelf, and I have the ebook on my Kindle.

I had to dig into this.

Normally, on a book’s page on Amazon, all format options are shown (ebook, paperback, hardback, audiobook and so on). But when I searched for Desert Bound in the Kindle store it only showed the ebook. However, when I searched specifically for the paperback, the paperback came up‌—‌but didn’t show that it was available in ebook.

This wasn’t right. Different formats of the same book are ‘linked’. I checked all my other titles, and found no other discrepancies. So this wasn’t a wide glitch. This was specific to Desert Bound.

I looked closer, and noticed a difference‌—‌the ebook was listed as Desert Bound (ShadowTech Book 1), but the paperback came up as Desert Bound (ShadowTech). Had I entered the wrong metadata when setting the paperback up?

I went into my KDP (Kindle Desktop Publishing) account to check‌—‌and found the same metadata for both books. But, somehow, Amazon had the series title in place of the subtitle with the paperback, which made their system treat the two formats as separate entities rather than different versions of the same product.

So I contacted Amazon. I explained the situation, and asked them to rectify it. I also asked for the review to be removed, as well as asking if there was any way they could contact this (potential) customer and point them towards the paperback.

Amazon replied, and a few days later both formats were showing as available on any search for Desert Bound. But I have to go through a few more hoops to get the review removed.

A part of me is tempted to leave it‌—‌readers are intelligent enough to see that the review isn’t a comment on the book’s quality. If it was one of many reviews, it wouldn’t matter so much‌—‌but it’s my only review so far. It means that Desert Bound has an average rating of one star‌—‌not what I want for a first-in-series!

So, that’s the situation I found myself in earlier this week. I’m trying to look at the positives, and I think there are a few lessons to learn here.

  • Things can always go wrong. Even if I’m certain I’ve entered details accurately, I need to check more thoroughly. Yes, this will take more time (as I’ll want to check the book pages on all retailers, not only Amazon), but it’ll give me greater peace of mind, and help prevent issues like this in the future.
  • Mistakes remain until they’re pointed out. If it hadn’t been for this review, I wouldn’t have noticed the problem, so I thank the reviewer for pointing this out. I would’ve preferred it if they’d contacted me directly, but I can understand why they didn’t‌—‌that would have involved more work, and they were clearly frustrated anyway. Similarly, if there are any typos in my books, I’m all for readers contacting me to point them out. Yes, I do all I can to ensure there are no mistakes, but a few always slip through.
  • Reviews matter, in all kinds of strange ways. ‘Good’ reviews help make the book look more attractive to potential readers, and highlight what works well in the story and the writing. ‘Bad’ reviews can highlight what hasn’t worked, at least for the reviewer. All reviews can be constructive, ‘good’ or ‘bad’ (although some reviews are inaccurate, mean or simply make no sense). And, from my experience here, reviews can highlight issues that the writer hadn’t even considered.

This is only a small issue, but I want my books to be the best they can be‌—‌and that includes the buying and reading experiences. If there’s something hindering a potential reader from getting one of my books, I want to get rid of the problem.

If the reviewer is reading this, I apologise. This link should take you to the paperback page on Amazon.com.

And if anyone out there has read (and enjoyed) Desert Bound, I’d love more reviews.