Sadly, this is true. There are a lot of people out there who don’t read the description of the book they are buying. This means that when you get the reviews from people who complain about a factor you already warned them about in the description, it will unjustly bring down your average star rating.
For example, I see 1-star reviews like this a lot on books that are clearly labeled as short stories in the description, “Nice story but too short” or “Didn’t realize it was a short story.”
Or… ”I didn’t realize this wasn’t suitable for children” when the author specifically put in the description “Intended for adults due to violent content.”
There’s nothing we can do about this except hope the people reading the reviews will look at the description and realize that the reviewer had been warned about the thing they complained about. And don’t be surprised if you get emails from people who make the same complaints. You could have “short stories” plastered all over your website or blog and get the email saying, “I didn’t realize you wrote stories that are short.” Or you could have a header on your blog with a man in a dark coat with blood dripping from his fingers and “Horror Author” written in red and get an email saying, “I don’t think your violent content is appropriate.”
So what’s the solution? Personally, I ignore these types of emails. What’s the point? You’ve disclosed it to them. It’s not your fault they either don’t get it or don’t want to get it.
But one thing I’m sure about (and this where my stubborn nature creeps in): I am not changing the way I write my books or their length just because they don’t like the way I handle it. I went into self-publishing so I wouldn’t have someone telling me what to do with my books. I went into this for full creative control. I think most self-published authors went into it for the same reason. If there’s nothing else I’ve learned from all the emails and reviews I’ve gotten (and studying other authors’ reviews), it’s that for everyone who hates something about our work, there is someone else who will love it.
In the end, what matters is whether you are happy with your book. This means you take pride in your work and make it the very best it can be. This means you will read your book in the future and think, “I’m so glad I wrote that story.” When you can be your own most enthusiastic reader, your book is exactly as it should be, regardless of what others say about it. This is why self-publishing is the best choice for a lot of authors. We can write the books we’re most passionate about the way it’s supposed to be. :D
*steps off soapbox*