Generally speaking, the first reviews you have will be from friends. They'll be kind and say lovely things. If you're unlucky, you're left with just glowing reviews.
If you're lucky, strangers will then read your work. Some will love it and some won't. They will also each have their own guidelines of what exactly a rating means so this is where you get a panoply of them.
Some people will hate your work. That's okay. You can't appeal to everyone. Just remember: McDonalds gets awful ratings sometimes but they're also extremely successful.
Now as for what really bad reviews are worth, that depends on where the reviewer is coming from.
- If there's genuinely a problem with your book, like lousy formatting, go fix it.
- If they didn't like it but it's just a matter of taste, they may still recommend it to someone else. Me, I rarely one star, but I'm always saying, "XYZ wasn't to my taste, but I think you'll love it."
- If they're in a bad mood about something else, you may get the brunt of it. You can take it because there will be others who were super happy when they came across your read which boosted their 'okay' rating into 'awesome'.
- But do be aware that some people just love to give bad ratings; it's how they get their kicks. Some will pretend your work is badly formatted when it isn't or make up some other lie. There are also people who are jealous, so they slate you as a form of revenge without even reading your book. Often these will be people you know but who hide behind false names.
The bottom line is this: if you write, you ask the public to discuss your work, and that involves all kinds of scrutiny. Some of it is sweet, some bitter and some plain bonkers but most of the time people won't say a word. They just buy your work if they like it, and you'll never know who they are.
So enjoy the experience and don't worry too much.
And now for the ad: buy HELPLESS by AJ Adams!
For all international sales: buy from Smashwords.
If you're in the US and have a Kindle: buy from Amazon.com
If you're in the UK and have a Kindle: buy from Amazon UK
Please, we live by word of mouth advertising so tell your friends!