How Negative Book Reviews Help Authors Sell More Books

Like your first heartbreak, you won’t ever forget that first 1-star book review. But those reviews can actually work to your advantage. 

What many beginner authors don’t realize is that these 1-star book reviews can actually help them sell more books. 

You’ll learn about the different kinds of 1-star book reviews your books might get, and learn how these 1-star book reviews can actually help you sell more books! 

Types of 1-Star Book Reviews

In general, most 1-star book reviews can be divided into the following three categories:

  • Complaints about the content
  • Complaints about the writing
  • Complaints about the author

Complaints about the content

1-star book reviews tend to highlight all the negative aspects of the story that a reader found unappealing. Usually, it centers around the actual content of the story. Below is one such example:

1 star book review

Ironically, these kinds of 1-star book reviews usually end up highlighting the exact things that people looking for these books want. In the above example, the book was a Top 100 bestseller for multiple weeks and specifically advertised itself as a dark, twisted romance walking a delicate line. 

This means that the 1-star book review here, by highlighting all the things that makes the story feel dark, twisted, and enjoyable, does a better job of advertising those tropes than the author ever could have done on their own. 

A reader who wants dark and twisted will be much more likely to make that purchase after reading this review.

Complaints about the writing

1-star book reviews tend to focus on the stylistic problems with the content. They may go on and on about how the book is terribly written, how the language is juvenile, or any other nitpicky things.

In general, these reviews can also hold tiny nuggets of praise like “I would’ve loved this book BUT…” 

These kinds of reviews tell readers that although there are some problems, the overall book or author still holds a good amount of redeeming value. Take a look at this example:

writing 1 star book review

In this 1-star book review, it lists the reader’s complaint but also ends with the reader telling others that they loved the previous book in the series. 

Complaints about the author

1-star book reviews tend to hold nothing back. For authors, these will hurt the most. These 1-star book reviews tend to stay short. But every once in a while, you end up with a massive wall of text that comes across as incredibly mean and pretentious, like the one here:

author 1 star book review

Yikes! That’s quite a bad review. But at the same time, it’s really hard to ignore how pretentious and mean the reviewer sounds, saying things like “didactic pretensions” and “shabbily researched and depicted, for cheap pathos.”

Here is another review (albeit a 2-star review) that takes a swipe at the author:

Here, the review’s main complaint about the book is that the author did not foresee the future and did not adjust their writing to match this. It comes across as nitpicky for the sake of being nitpicky, and even though the reviewer says that the story was enjoyable, the two star review is more likely to generate sympathy for the author than to dissuade anyone from buying the book.

How Do 1-Star Book Reviews Help Authors Sell More Books?

1-star book reviews are more visible than other reviews

This is especially true when your book has a large number of reviews. People aren’t going to go through 10 pages of 5-star reviews, but they will go through one page of 1-star book reviews. 

Take a look at the number of reviews on this book and ask yourself: would you rather read through nearly 11,000 5-star reviews praising the book or would read through about 400+ 1-star reviews to see if there are any deal breakers?

Amazon review summary


[bctt tweet=”People browsing 1-star reviews are interested in your book already. And if they don’t find a deal breaker review, they’ll probably buy it.”]

1-star book reviews make the reviews and book look more real  

When users see only 4 or 5 star reviews on a book, they’re likely to believe those reviews as fake or paid reviews–even if they are completely genuine. 

On the other hand, a book that has a couple of 1-star reviews will be seen as more “real”. As a result, readers are more likely to trust the 5 star reviews in the presence of 1-star reviews.

Here are two books’ reviews overview. Which one do you feel is more real, and which one do you feel is more manipulated?

fake vs real amazon reviews

[bctt tweet=”The more authentic a book’s review section looks, the more trustworthy (and more likely to buy) the book becomes”]

1-star book reviews can generate sympathy for the author

1-star book reviews that directly attack the author tend to generate sympathy for the author because the reviewer comes across as meanspirited and rude–which further decreases their credibility as a reviewer. In those instances, readers are more likely to pick up the book because of this newfound sympathy. 

Here is one instance where the 1-star review generated so much sympathy that another reader jumped to the author’s defense:

good one star review

Final Thoughts

Reviews help potential readers decide whether they want to buy your book or not. And while we always like the 5-star reviews, 1-star reviews can be just as important.

They help readers make their decision and in many cases, they can even help you sell more books. 

So don’t be discouraged about the errant 1-star book reviews here and there. 

They might be more helpful than you think!

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x