One star reviews are an inevitable sort of thing—akin to death and taxes. If you write, you’re going to experience rejection from editors, publishers and agents. The value of those rejections is that they give you calluses on your heart and mind of such massive thickness that the one star reviews (and their close cousins, the two star reviews) that arrive after having an editor and publisher actually like you, no longer bother you quite as much. Instead, they are mostly amusing.
All right: and also somewhat, maybe a little, annoying.
Obviously, you are never going to please everyone with what you write. Those responsible for making Mystery Science Theater 3000 (and now RiffTrax) have a list of some of the worst movies ever made. They are experts in such things. Near the top of their list are the Twilight movies. And yet, despite their opprobrium, and that of many other critics, there are also far more people who think the Twilight films and books are wonderful—and the filmmakers have certainly made a bundle thanks to them.
The sort of books that I think generate the worst sort of one star reviews are books having to do with politics or religion. Nothing brings out negativity in some people more than politics and religion: the frothing at the mouth, wish you were dead, you should burn in Hell sort of opposition. I’m not sure that the Twilight books and movies generate the same level of heat.
Thus, given that my non-fiction books are religious in nature, the negative reviews are profoundly negative. I noticed a new one yesterday on Amazon for my book The Bible’s Most Fascinating People. It is the only negative review of that book.
The review struck me as somewhat incoherent. The headline the critic put to his review was “spiritual suicide: hijacked by intellect”. All lower case. Then, after putting me in league with false prophets and false teachers—and quoting relevant Bible passages to make his point—there was this confusing sentence: “Though I cannot give a fully accurate view of his disagreement with the Word of God’s claim, here are some general observations of mine and disagreements with Nettelhorst, to the best of my understanding:”
So. Even though he “cannot accurately say” how I disagree with the Bible, he is certain that I somehow do. Thus, I had to assume that he intended to inaccurately say how I disagree with the Bible. He managed much in the way of inaccuracy. For multiple paragraphs.
What got me annoyed most was his quotation of a line in my introduction (with a misspelling I didn’t have and without quotation marks), followed by his comment in parentheses:
…Is the Bible true? Are Shakespear’s plays? (rhetorical questions leading to the answer: NO)
Um. Wrong answer. Kind of opposite of my answer, really. He seems to have completely missed my point, which was to address those who attack the Bible in ways they would never think to criticize other literature, as well as to suggest that a lot of people who read the Bible are missing what it’s all about and getting bogged down with nonissues: i.e., if you’re trying to prove or disprove if it’s possible for someone to survive in a giant fish for three days, you’re not really getting the point of Jonah’s story.
Oddly, my critic admits that the issues he has are minor, even as he concludes that I am therefore leading people to Hell: “Whereas this may seem picky, it is these types of variations that draw us away from the Good News.”
Oh. And apparently my critic didn’t read anything beyond my two page introduction. Printed with large type.