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The Unfortunate Backlash

A few days ago, I made a post about Raani York and her “wishlist” to reviewers. Her post became an instant career killer. This is a prime example of a situation I hate to be right about (not saying I’m right about everything, so let’s not get that twisted.)  In fact, it’s kinda scary how predictable the self publishing world has become. Her post went up on January 13th, and within 2 days (2 days!?) her book was torn to shreds. I stand by what I said in the previous post (which you can read here, or just scroll down a bit) but I feel awful for her. Her book went from a 3.89 on Goodreads (which is amazing by GR standards) to a 1.78. The reviews have been mean, cruel, and really fucked up. The sad fact is that she isn’t the first, nor will she be the last author to get massacred for making a mistake.

Because self publishing is being publicized as “so easy,” everyone thinks they can do it. The market is flooded with half-assed, barely cohesive piles of junk. For a long time, reviewers had taken it upon themselves to regulate the market. They helped squash any poorly constructed piece of garbage to help make room for the authors that really gave it their all. This did help a lot for a long time and by the time self-publishing became the “in” thing to do, the reviewers that were trying to help became overwhelmed. Then, the delusional authors entered the scene. These were the authors that thought their book was better than every other book on the market, and they acted that way. They would respond to negative reviews with harsh, almost psychotic responses in an attempt to put the reviewer in their place. These authors helped form STGRB and other psuedo-justice driven websites. They claimed that people who didn’t like their book were either jealous or just mean. One bad review for someone could easily land the reviewer’s personal information out for all of the world to see. Because many reviewers are also authors themselves, that was fuel to the fire. STGRB was/is the leader in continuing to push the hatred, but that’s another topic all together. Because things began to get so out of hand, reviewers started to fight back. If an author started to gripe about negative reviews, or reviewers in general, the masses would descend and a book that was more or less decent would be shredded. That is unfortunately what has happened to countless authors when they even make a peep. Granted, not all authors are innocent (I’m looking at you, Kathleen Hale.) But those that are attempt to speak out about it and get classified with the truly terrible authors. It sucks that it happens this way, but it seems to be the only way to keep the battle on even ground and to keep authors from getting big heads.

But, isn’t there another way? This is more of a rhetorical question than anything, but it’s out there. Shouldn’t authors be allowed to make observations about the community without fear of being ripped to shreds? I decided a long time ago that I was going to remain as neutral as possible, but I was going to say what I felt needed to be said. Of course, I also learned early on what to say and what not to say. I don’t think that I am free from being targeted, I mean, we all are, aren’t we? But, I really think that someone like Raani York, who (after a follow up look at her blog) really meant it as a joke, shouldn’t have been attacked like that. There are tons of authors that do, and their treatment of and behavior in the community are evident of that, someone who has not been known to make waves should be given peace. A wrong move like this from an other wise great author shouldn’t be a career killer. If Ms. York reads this, I truly hope that she continues writing, but she should perhaps stay away from any attempt at direct contact with reviewers in the future. Good luck, Ms. York.

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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