Posted by Maegan Provan
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.
*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.*