If I could put a facepalming .gif as this title I would

I don’t know how many times I’ve talked about reactions to reviews, why you shouldn’t respond to reviews, and other issues regarding reviews in general. Nor do I know how many more times I will say something. I hadn’t read anything lately, and I had hope that people were starting to understand. Alas, here I am.

Yesterday, during a lull of work, I stumbled across “How Authors would wish their books to be reviewed” by Raani York. This well written “wish list”of self published authors is probably the worst thing the author could have done for her career, simply because she dared to put herself and her frustration out there. Of course, I may be overreacting a bit, and Ms. York might be able to come out of this with minimal damage, but that depends on who sees the article and who chooses to take it with a grain of salt.

As a self published author, I understand the yearning for readers. I do. I understand the frustration of minimal purchases and minimal reviews. I know the pain of negative reviews. I would never tell a reviewer how much their review may or may not hurt because I’m sure they know. 99.9% of the time, their intent is not malicious, but they understand that some times words can hurt. I understand that when I give a bad review, I’m not making any new friends or getting invited to any parties, but I handing an author my honest opinion of their work. Our world revolves around the opinions of others, good and bad. I try to remain constructive in my reviews, and I know there are times I can’t honestly say that I did, but I, like a majority of other low staring reviews, are trying to help the author, not hinder them from becoming better. Hand holding, coddling, and lying will be the death of our community because it is open to everyone. Any person that can type a few words on a computer can publish a book now, and the only way for our community to survive, grow, and for all of us to improve our writing, is for reviewers to be honest.

In the aforementioned post, Ms. York breaks down what it takes to write a book and get the book published. She then goes on to stress the importance of reviews and how they help an author gain an audience. This is absolutely true. Reviews make the self-publishing world go round. Then the article opens up the flood gates and it was like a car crash. She lists her top 6 wishes she has for reviews, which are:

1. If you aren’t convinced of our work, and you don’t feel it deserves a 4- or 5-Star review, please contact us in private and let us know why you are not the biggest fan of our book. When you find constructive criticisms we understand, but still have good words about our writing, we can decide together, whether or not a quite positive 3-Star review can be published.

 

2. Make sure you REALLY read the entire book before reviewing it. I was given a review by a person who has clearly “jumped” half the book before telling me it was extremely bad(how can anyone judge a book who hasn’t actually read it?). Thank God that review was never published!

 

4. Before criticizing my grammar and typos, please make sure your review is impeccable, otherwise you might not be taken seriously. Keep in mind that a self-published 1st edition still might have a few flaws. I don’t say that’s how it should be – but it happens. Every Author who is permanently working on getting better is going through it again to correct these mistakes in a second edition. So am I, together with my editor.

 

5. Don’t rip us to shreds just because “you can”! It seems there are a handful of Readers out there who like to read books and write reviews – but apparently not even one book is “good enough” for them to give it more than 1 or 2 stars and their reviews are written in a very rude way and a very poor grammar and spelling. Seriously: if books are so bad – you might want to consider finding another hobby?

 

6. In your review we Authors don’t want to read what you “would have done” writing this book or changing the plot. Please don’t forget that this is OUR novel! Don’t re-write my book for me. I’m the Author. If I had wanted it to end differently or change the plot, I would have done so!

 

Everything she hit on are sensitive subjects in the community. They’ll either land you on a BBA list or shelved with the other books of authors who appeared to “whine” about negative reviews. I kept muttering ‘no, no no’ to myself as I read it. This could potentially ruin Ms. York’s career before it’s truly begun.

As I have said countless times, you need a thick skin to be in this business. You have every right to disagree with a reviewer, you also have every right to complain about them to a close friend. You do not have the right to tell them what you “wish” they would do. It’s basically telling them that their opinion is wrong, and if you can’t convince them to change their mind, then they might as well f*ck off. Authors should accept the reviews they get with open arms because it means that people are reading their work. It doesn’t matter whether they liked it or not, it matters that they took the time to read it.

 

NOTE:

*After writing this article, I figured I might as well see what prompted the post for Ms. York. Now, I am beyond confused by her post. Her book “Dragonbride (Dragon Chronicles Book 1)” has an overall ranking on Amazon of 5 stars (four 5 star reviews and one 4 star) and on Goodreads she has an overall rating of 3.89 Of the reviews I saw, there was one 1 star review and it was incredibly nice and constructive. What is she complaining about? Is she worried that someone will trash the book out of existence or something, because I don’t see anything that would be detrimental to her career. I feel that her post was made to complain about a problem that didn’t even exist to begin with. That’s incredibly annoying on her part.

I won’t be reviewing this book if I read it because I understand if I say anything bad, it will be construed as bullying.*

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About Maegan Provan

I am an indie author and proud of it. I try to update as much as humanly possible, but I'm a busy bee.

Posted on January 14, 2015, in Journal and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Oh, I think she took a definite risk by saying what she said in her post, but what she says is true. From a logical standpoint, I know authors should have a thick skin, but mine isn’t. I’m probably inviting the BBA brigade to one-star all my books by saying this, but a bad review still ruins my whole day. A bad review makes me rethink everything I’ve ever written. On one hand, I wish reviewers would go easy on me, or not review my books at all. On the other hand, I DO want to know what they really think.

    I used to be brutally honest in my reviews. Now, I take a different approach. If I don’t like a book, I stop reading it. Life is too short to read books I don’t like. That doesn’t mean it’s bad – it just means it’s not the book for me. Lately, my reviews have been 3 to 5 stars, usually ranging on the higher side. I understand some people might feel that I’m taking the easy way out by not posting “bad” reviews. But I’ve come to the point where I don’t want to write bad reviews. I’d rather stop reading and move on. Let someone else destroy an author’s dreams – I just can’t do it anymore.

    That being said, there is never any reason to engage in an argument with a reviewer. When I get a bad review, I want to curl up in the corner and cry, or possibly bury myself in a shallow plot in my own backyard, but I’ve never been tempted to argue with a reviewer. Or stalk them to their house (not naming names, but you know who I’m talking about). Getting a bad review hurts, but it isn’t bullying. Unfortunately, once you put a book out there, anyone can say anything about it and there’s nothing we can do.

    • I do agree with you in a lot of ways. I mean, bad reviews suck. They hurt. There is no reason to deny it. And a lot of people who review books do it simply to crush the souls of authors every where, and that’s wrong. However, when I write a bad review, I don’t write to hurt the author. You know that there are plenty of books I’ve read but they were so terrible I stopped reading and chose not to review. But bad reviews happen, ya know? Also, I’m super tired and so if this doesn’t make any sense, I’m sorry.

      • I noticed the author of that article removed her post, probably because of backlash. I feel sorry for her. I think some of the items on her wishlist were very badly phrased, but some were taken out of context. I think every author WISHES they could get mostly 4 and 5 star reviews, but no author has the right to EXPECT it. That’s the difference. I think some readers of her post took her wishlist as a list of expectations. If she expects reviewers to consult with her before posting a review, that will NEVER happen. As an author, I don’t think I’d even want a reviewer to consult with me. That takes away the “honesty” aspect of an honest review. I hate one-star reviews, but I support a reviewer’s right to post them and to say whatever they like about my books.

  2. *facepalm*

    Now I need to google the link to her article. It’s #1 that makes me cringe the most. Mail her and see if you can’t agree to a three star review? In a perfect world, reviewers who didn’t like books would not review them (I don’t) but it’s not a perfect world. Bad reviews are hard to take, I know, I have a few, but we have to “pretend” to be celebrities. If someone posts a nasty review of Mandy Moore’s latest endeavor she doesn’t reply to it, and neither should we. Or that’s how I do it, anyway, LOL!

    • I agree Joleene. I don’t write “bad” reviews anymore, but that’s because I usually don’t finish reading books I don’t like. That’s my personal choice. I don’t want to waste time reading something I dislike, and I don’t want to tear down an author (partly because I don’t to hurt their feelings, but partly because I don’t want them to show up at my house with a gun). That’s my choice. If a reviewer chooses to leave one-star reviews, that’s their choice and I support them. We all have to make our own “rules” in terms of how we leave reviews. It’s unreasonable for an author to expect a reviewer to consult with them before posting. Some reviewers do have a policy that they will privately email the author if they can’t leave a three-star or above, but most don’t. I also agree with you that we shouldn’t reply to reviews. When I first started writing, I thanked someone on Goodreads for posting a review. That’s before I knew that it was a no-no to do that. I guess we all live and learn.

      • Heh heh. I’ve got a bad goodreads story. So when i first joined it said “add your books” and i thought it meant MY books, not the ones is read, so i added them- and it asked me to rate them. I thought “this is odd” but I dutifully rated them with their amazon rating. Then i found out it meant the books I’d read lol! It took me forever to find how to delete those so they ask had an “author review” on them for a long time *groan*

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