5 Book Review Rules Which Could Make Writers Hate You Less

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Book reviews are the cod liver oil of the writing world. Writers need them, and they can do an awful lot of good, but they can also leave an incredibly nasty taste in the mouth.

You can’t switch on the Internet these days without seeing an author giving out about book reviews and how unfair/mean/reprehensible/soul-destroying they are. There is always a writer whinging somewhere about the tears they shed over a nasty review, how personal it was, and why so-and-so was out to destroy them.

Now, for some writers of the thinner skinned variety, this might mean a review which says something unforgiveable such as “I didn’t like this book“. For others, it might take a little more venom. Such as an anonymous review which says “I would have used this book for toilet paper, but my soft under bits would have rejected it too.”

angry book woman possibly also madSo, I got to thinking. If book reviews were always helpful, there would be nothing to give out about. And if reviewers followed some rules, maybe authors would have even less whining to do, which would be nice. To that end, I’ve written some rules. 5 of them, to be precise.

1. Have The Guts To Use Your Name

This is the hairy question of anonymity – where it is allowed. Anonymous reviewers or opinion posters are the second scourge of the Internet (after Facebook, obviously), and should never be allowed. If you wouldn’t want your name associated with a comment, don’t write it. But if a reviewer wouldn’t care to put their own name to a review, they have no business letting it out in public without a leash.

I have to admit that this doesn’t address the equally hirsute question of writing 5-star reviews for people you know. That’s a moral quandary you’ll have to sort out yourself.

2. Honest Is Not The Same As Judgemental

It goes without saying that reviewers should be allowed to offer their honest opinion. But this does not mean denouncing the book from a height even though it had 3 spelling mistakes and a thin blonde heroine.

There are a lot of grey areas as to what constitutes a fair opinion or not, but suffice to say that opinion is generally considered fair by a person who agrees with it, and not if they don’t. Authors are never going to agree with a negative opinion, but thankfully we don’t have to listen to them if we don’t want to.

3. Be Helpful, Or Don’t Bloody Bother At All

You could say it’s great that we can already grade reviews as being helpful or unhelpful, and ignore all weeping and wailing over what’s fair or unfair. But book reviews are not always helpful. Some of them are downright annoying. Some of them say nothing at all. And the helpful/unhelpful system is also open to abuse, when writers try to rally the troops to get someone’s review rated as unhelpful simply because they don’t like it.

Guidelines should be followed for review content, to make sure they are worthy of reading in the first place. To that end, I have appointed myself to write some, even though they already have guidelines on Amazon and GoodReads (because it’s clear that nobody ever reads them).

These questions should be answered. Anything else is just posturing.

(i)     What made you buy the book? Are you glad you bought it? Why?

(ii)    Was there anything in particular about the book which made you wish you hadn’t bought/read it?

(iii)    Would you recommend it?

(iv)    Is there any further information which can help explain precisely why you assigned that particular star rating?

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4.    Remember, Some Things Are Not Your Business

The purpose of a book review is not for the reviewer to tell the author what they would have done differently if they’d written it. It is not for the reviewer to tell the author what they think should have happened in the story. It is not for the reviewer to tell the author that their favourite character shouldn’t have died on page 94. And it is emphatically not for the reviewer to say that it was a great book because their friend wrote it. A book review should tell me why I might like a book and more importantly, why I might benefit from buying it.

5.    Wait 2 Hours Before Posting

Write your review, and then come back to it. Do you really still want to say all that stuff? Good or bad? If the answer is yes, fire away. But you’d be surprised at how much you’ll want to hit that backspace key once you’ve let it breathe.

******************

What about you? Do you rely on book reviews when you’re buying? And what would you like – or not like – to see?

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  107 comments for “5 Book Review Rules Which Could Make Writers Hate You Less

  1. March 21, 2014 at 11:53 am

    As a person who writes book reviews, this post was very useful. Thank you! I try not to be too vitriolic or fawning in mine, but I’ll bear these rules in mind from now on anyway. 🙂

    Like

    • March 21, 2014 at 1:06 pm

      I might talk the talk myself but I have to consciously remind myself to do the walking! Still, all the didactic stuff is great, isn’t it?!!

      Like

  2. March 21, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    Nicely done. Although the fact that we even have a little bit of contempt was SUPPOSED to be a secret 😀
    Now can you write a follow up to those who read a book but don’t write a review. Or just give me the magic potion to get people to do it… 🙂

    Like

    • March 21, 2014 at 1:07 pm

      Very true Aunty. Unfortunately most of the readers I know just don’t have any urge to review. Perhaps if I chained them to something…?!

      Like

  3. March 21, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    Thanks, Tara, but you may be preaching to the choir. Those twisted souls who prowl the net looking for a place to slap a dollop of vitriol and self-rigthteousness, sadly don’t read writers blogs. If every reviewer would simply adopt your rule No. 1, the world would be a better place.

    Like

    • March 21, 2014 at 1:29 pm

      I’ve thought for so many years, Richard, that if everyone just did everything I said, the world would b a better place. But I can’t even get my own family to comply, which is what put me into the wilderness of the net in the first place 😉

      Like

  4. March 21, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    Amazing post!! Sharing.

    Often when I HATE a book, and generally it’s because they’ve written the characters so well that I want to slap them across the face. Which is GOOD.

    Like

    • March 21, 2014 at 2:25 pm

      Agreed. Fantastic authors make me sad. But only after I’ve finished the book and realise I can never read it for the first time ever again. Which is just mean.

      Like

  5. March 21, 2014 at 10:33 pm

    Just spent the afternoon querying reviewers for my latest book. I hope they follow your rules!

    Like

    • March 22, 2014 at 10:11 am

      Fingers crossed, David! Maybe you could stand over them with a big stick!

      Like

  6. March 22, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    I’ve often bought a book based on a negative review, or rejected it based on a positive one. Something you don’t like in a story may attract me, and vice versa.

    Like

    • March 23, 2014 at 1:09 am

      That’s an excellent point. I couldn’t agree more. A negative review is very often more likely to make me buy a book than a positive one, because I find it easier to know whether or not I’d agree with the reviewer. Every cloud, etc!

      Like

  7. carolannwrites
    March 22, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    I particularly like the ‘wait 2 hours before posting.’ Now if we could put that into practise in all walks of life… 😉

    Like

    • March 23, 2014 at 11:38 pm

      Yes indeed. Another one of those mindfulness mantras I need suspended in front of me on a wire at least 19 hours a day!!

      Like

  8. March 23, 2014 at 2:08 am

    I do read reviews on Amazon if I’m considering whether or not to buy a book. In most cases it’s easy to judge, just from what the review focuses on and how it’s written, whether or not a specific reviewer’s opinion has any value for me. I also write reviews, and while most of my reviews give a book four or five stars, that’s because I won’t review a book unless I can honestly say good things about it. I give a book fewer stars on occasion, almost always because the edition I’m reviewing is badly edited or has other technical faults.

    Like

    • March 23, 2014 at 11:50 pm

      If only everyone took the time and effort to be so conscientious about all book reviews, Mary… it’s taken me a long time to read between the lines on reviews and honestly, I’m still learning!

      Like

  9. March 25, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    I think “Wait two hours before posting” should be remembered by everyone. I read reviews for everything I buy online and avidly trawl TripAdvisor and other holiday sites before booking a holiday in a certain hotel in a certain place. What I look for in reviews is reasons — either why the reviewer likes or dislikes the book/product. This gives me a better idea of what weight to attach to the review.

    Like

    • March 26, 2014 at 12:48 pm

      It’s great advice and I wish I always took it myself! I think most people can spot a review which was written in the heat of the moment without much rational thought behind it. And discard it accordingly. But some can’t, and you always worry about them more, for some reason!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. May 6, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    Reblogged this on sara33ia.

    Like

  11. May 6, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    Reblogged this on Year 'Round Thanksgiving Project and commented:
    Great thoughts on writing book reviews

    Like

  12. May 6, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    Thank you Tara, very useful advice for reviewer. I like constructive criticism for my books – I intend to write quite a few more and I want to make sure that the person I write the book for is my reader (or readers if lucky) not myself.

    Like

    • May 6, 2014 at 1:56 pm

      A great philosophy – writing for your reader, not yourself. Often hard to turn reality, but when it does, it’s absolute magic…

      Like

  13. May 6, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    Great post! I always try to be respectful, even when I don’t care for a book. 🙂

    Like

    • May 6, 2014 at 1:57 pm

      Respect is the key, definitely. I just don’t get the point of purposeless disrespect thrown around the net like confetti. I often wonder if there will be a day when it’s just, well, tired.

      Like

  14. May 6, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    I never rely on reviews when buying a book. Its such a personal thing. The best criteria for choosing a book is to read the free 10% sample and make up your own mind. But I usually read one 5 star review and one 1 star review…just for a laugh! Its very rare that a bad review actually has anything worthwhile to say. But they can be fun to read! And as for recieving such reviews, well unfortunately if we put ourselves and our writing in the public domain, we have to be prepared for that. No one takes them seriously. Reviews are just an opinion after all, and readers should have the freedom to write what they want, so long as they are not rude or abusive.

    Like

    • May 6, 2014 at 1:59 pm

      Ah, but have you ever felt conned by the 10% sample?! I have, when I’ve read something incredibly promising and it turns out it delivers on little, if any of it, which makes me sad. I often judge reviews as much as reviewers judge books, and have mighty fun in the process!

      Like

      • May 7, 2014 at 11:32 am

        I can’t say that I have! They say that 10% must be the best in the book, and I guess for some it must be! How disappointing that must be! I totally agree with you, though, about the reviews, they can be a great source of amusement! But a well thought out, well written, and considered review, even if not complimentary, is worth it’s weight in gold.

        Like

        • May 7, 2014 at 11:39 am

          Indeed it is – and although so many authors don’t take this into account, a negative review can actually translate into sales, both by balancing out the good reviews, making them seem more authentic, and also by perhaps pointing out things that they didn’t like, but which wouldn’t bother other readers. I’ve bought significantly more books because of 3* reviews than 5*. If authors were aware of that, they’d be a happier bunch.

          Like

          • May 7, 2014 at 11:42 am

            Yes, you’re right about that…no such thing as bad publicity! I don’t have many reviews as yet, but they have all been 4/5 stars…I wish I had a bad one to balance them out, lol, as I think potential readers must look at them and think they were all written by friends and family, which isn’t the case at all!!!

            Like

  15. May 6, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    Reblogged this on Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing and commented:
    Very good advice for anyone reading and reviewing books!

    Like

  16. carolegill
    May 6, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    Reblogged this on MARSocial Author Business Enhancement Horror Post and commented:
    Excellent post.

    Like

    • May 6, 2014 at 2:00 pm

      Thank you! All compliments gratefully stored and taken out in dark times for desperate perusal 😉

      Like

  17. May 6, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    Reblogged this on Have We Had Help? and commented:
    If only…

    Like

  18. May 6, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    Tara, if only… If the industry universally adopted your five steps, then troll attacks would end overnight. Great piece. 🙂

    Like

    • May 6, 2014 at 3:30 pm

      If only anyone I knew did anything I advised, Jack, my stress levels would come down exponentially. But I’m still waiting for that to happen 😉

      Like

  19. May 6, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    Reblogged this on The Mirror Obscura and commented:
    Some food for thought. >KB

    Like

  20. May 6, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    I haven’t had many reviews on my books yet, but so far they have been nice and one was even what I would classify as ‘helpful’! Hopefully many more people will read this post and be able to write a review that actually HELPS either the future audience decide on the book, or the author figure out how to better market.

    This was a great post, thank you for sharing
    http://www.alaynbellesmom.wordpress.com

    Like

    • May 6, 2014 at 6:55 pm

      Thank you! Being someone who does actually use reviews to help making a buying decision, I want them to be helpful (rather than annoying). That’s the idea behind it anyway!

      Like

  21. Jemima Pett
    May 6, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    These are particularly useful pointers for the rare occasions when I didn’t like a book, or didn’t like something specific about it. Thank you for the reminder about how to handle it!!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. May 6, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    I mean there are too many Trolls out there just waiting at the chance to put something down. This is the reality we face now and if its not that then its a writer who doesn’t know how to measure certain levels of material and instead places a standard by which they feel they live up to and every one else should adapt to.They fail to realize that a buffet wouldn’t be a buffet if every thing was the same flavor. Better to just hire an editor so writers don’t give these guys a chance to critique harshly that way…

    http://wp.me/4hgUs

    Like

    • May 7, 2014 at 8:52 am

      I agree, Antonio: but the problem is the definition of trolling, isn’t it? To some people, a troll is anybody who disagrees with them. At the other end of the scale, what some call trolling could actually be criminal harrassment. And no amount of editing will stop harsh critique – although I have no patience whatsoever for authors who think they don’t need editors, look at the amount of traditionally published books which have undergone constant rewrites and edits, and still get slated by anonymous reviewers.

      Like

  23. May 7, 2014 at 2:16 am

    Usually, I don’t comment on things like this, because I don’t like making flames. But you seem genuine and nice, so I hope you’ll understand the reviewer’s point of view a bit better.

    Most of the reviews authors complain about come from personal blogs or individual users on GoodReads. The important thing to remember is that these are not *paid* reviewers–they write reviews for fun in their free time, or have a hobby of doing so, or just want to keep track of how they personally felt about a book for their own personal benefit. We’re just people. I was sixteen when I started my blog–I just wanted to tell people why I liked or didn’t like books. I don’t want to sound harsh, but we don’t owe authors or other readers anything–when it comes down to it, yeah, I’d like to be helpful to someone, but there should never be “rules” on how to review a book. It’s just putting into words how a book made you feel. Nothing more, and nothing less. Please keep that in mind.

    Anonymity is there for a reason. My parents told me I couldn’t join any online forums or start a blog if I didn’t use a fake name. There are too many horror stories associated with stalking, harassment, and other dangerous situations that come from using your real name and information online. I go by a different name to protect myself. Most people do. I will gladly claim all I say and do as mine, as I’m sure most book reviewers (at least the ones I know and the ones anyone puts any stock in) would also. I’m not ashamed of anything I’ve written. But I keep my name private because I value the physical protection it brings. Most people use a fake name for this reason (which is why many authors use pseudonyms–if one wishes to banish anonymity from book reviews, why wouldn’t one also wish to ban authors from using fake names when they publish?).

    Most opinions are fair. Because it’s an opinion and there’s not really any logical way to reason whether it’s fair or not. Most authors will look at a one star review and say it’s not fair–the reader read it wrong, they interpreted it wrong, they were too judgmental, etc. If three spelling errors bother me and I think a book should be held to a higher standard before it’s published and released into the world, I should be free to say so. If I think a thin, blonde heroine is annoying because I consider it to be part of a Mary Sue trope, then I should be free to say so. I’m not sure how reviewers are supposed to make their opinions “more fair”.

    Being helpful? Everyone has a different definition of helpful. You could answer all four of those questions by saying, “I hated this book; it was pointless.” Obviously you regret buying the book. The pointlessness made you wish you hadn’t read it. You obviously wouldn’t recommend a book you hated. And saying that anything else is irrelevant is hurtful in itself–reviews are personal. They should be written according to each person’s own rules for him- or herself, not a formulaic and uninteresting outline. When I write reviews, I don’t want to write a fill-in-the-blank paper. Few people do. Anything you can tie into your feelings on the book should be fair game for being in a review.

    Of course if I’m disappointed in the ending or something that happened in a book, I’ll say so. For example, a book I just read had a long, drawn-out conclusion that had almost nothing to do with the original story. Did I say I would have cut it out? Yep. Writers want us to be helpful, but how are we supposed to be helpful if you don’t want us to say what we would change? I beta read a book for an author at the end of the year that just came out–regarding the ending of the book, I said I wouldn’t do it that way because *insert reasons*. And the author agreed with me and altered the book. Having a reviewer put themselves in the shoes of the writer can be beneficial for everyone. It would only hinder the constructive criticism for the author for a reviewer to say, “I hated this part, but I won’t tell you what I think would have been better.” It’s like a teacher handing back an essay to say the introduction sucked, but they refuse to tell you how to improve.

    I like your last point. Would I personally do it? Probably not (because I like getting things done and not having to worry about forgetting to post, etc (: ). But I agree that reflection is always something good. Anyway, I’m sorry for this long response to your post. Like I said, I usually don’t do stuff like this. I could easily post it under a name that is not associated with my blog or not link to my blog, but I’m not going to do those things because I stand by what I said, and I guess if any writers want to blacklist me because I don’t agree with this list of “rules”, they can. I just wanted to point out how the other side feels, and hopefully make you understand why a set of rules for reviews would never work in reality. Thank you for your post and for your time. Have a good day!

    Like

    • May 7, 2014 at 9:51 am

      Hi, Thalia. If that even is your real name….. kidding 😉

      Thank you so much for the thought you put into your comment. Book reviewing has become such an emotive subject and I appreciate that anything said about it can be taken personally, but I assure you, it’s not meant as such. There are some really shoddy, thoughtless and pointless book reviews out there, but I would guess purely from your comment that yours are not amongst them.

      From what I can see, your points and mine are not mutually exclusive, nor indeed in opposition to each other. I’m a book reviewer too. Most of the points you raise easily fall within the category of saying why you would or would not recommend a book, or why you were or were not glad you bought it. Nothing is stopping anyone from saying that they didn’t like something. But my definition of helpful would not include saying that you hated a book because it was pointless either. To say so is meaningless commentary because it gives no foundation or reason for the statement.

      I’m sticking to my guns on the anonymity issue, however. Authors are not a band of marauding thugs, trawling the internet for people to target with violent crime because they didn’t like a review! Nor do they have such bands of thugs at their disposal. I fail to understand the need for anonymity in the book world (particularly when there is no apparent need for anonymity on social media where people give intimate details of their lives to random strangers). The point is, a fake name can give a reviewer a false sense of bravado to say things they would not otherwise say. And that mostly manifests itself in negative commentary.

      And on the subject of suggesting changes for a book: when a book is published, it’s too late. Reviewers are not beta readers. Traditionally published books have already been extensively edited by professionals (for the most part) by the time they get their ISBN. Self-published books may benefit more from (constructive) criticism, but you can’t just yank a book from the Amazon shelves, re-jig it and re-publish within a week: it’s a massive operation, not to mention massively discouraged (because you would lose all sales rankings from before). I am also a beta reader, and try to be mindful that when I’m asked for beta criticism, I wear a completely different hat. It’s an world away from choosing to review a published work and saying why I would or wouldn’t recommend it.

      Like

      • May 7, 2014 at 11:13 am

        I honestly don’t understand the anonymity point. I really hate to disagree, but I’ve seen several of my reviewer friends get personal phone calls at their houses (one, if I remember correctly, left a negative review and got a phone that said, “We can find you, b****”), and there are has been one self-published author as of late who has attempted to hire hackers to doxx reviewers’ information in order to “destroy” them–his words, not mine. So I’m not going to drink the Kool-Aid that authors are all nice and friendly people who won’t take drastic measures when they’re upset enough. I’m sure the vast majority of authors are like that. But there’s also an entire hate blog dedicated to stalking the personal, identifying information from reviewers, so I’d prefer to keep my fake name off the internet. It’s just Personal Safety 101 of being active in the online world.

        I would like to point out that all the points you mention are based on the fact that the reviewer owes you something–which they do not. They do not owe you a review that is “helpful”. They do not think of the author’s feelings when they write a review, nor should they because reviews are not for authors. To say something is “pointless commentary” is useless in itself, because no commentary is pointless. “I didn’t like it” is a perfectly adequate review, considering it’s just some person who decided to jot something down about a book in their free time. This is not our job. We don’t get paid. There is no wrong way or right way to review. To say YOUR definition of helpful doesn’t include a certain phrasing is not to say that everyone’s definition of helpful is the same. It’s actually extremely helpful for me to read that a person thought a book was pointless–it makes me question whether I would gain anything from reading it.

        I still don’t understand how you (or anyone) expects a reviewer to be “helpful” if they just criticize your work with no other input. I would take a shot in the dark and say no writer would be happy with a review that says, “I hated the pacing.” Generally a line like that would read, “I hated the pacing because it didn’t flow well–it moved too quickly in some places and too slowly in others. I wish it would have had a more consistent flow throughout the whole book, instead of moments of fast forward and slow motion.” Isn’t that a thousand times /more/ helpful? It gives you something to focus on–more consistent pacing. (Not to mention that any such suggestions would be helpful for future books you wished to write.)

        I suppose we will have to agree to disagree–I don’t think I can change your mind, and I know for a fact that you won’t be able to change mine (no offense–I am a reviewer, after all (: ). Hopefully what I said gave you some food for thought, though. “Rules” for reviews will never be able to be enforced or introduced without a huge outrage in the review community–I would absolutely never conform to such rules, and nobody should have the authority to tell me how I should state my opinion. And if you forced reviewers to disclose their personal information (a name is enough to get you stalked), you’d sure have a lot of lawsuits on your hands when the inevitable attacks do happen.

        (On a side note, you might consider revising the title of this post. “Make writers hate you less?” I don’t think any reviewer deserves to be hated for having the audacity to criticize a book, however “unhelpful” one may think the review is. The title is probably in jest, but still extremely off-putting to any reviewer who might actually read this article.)

        Thanks for your time, Tara. Sorry I’m so wordy!

        Like

        • May 7, 2014 at 11:33 am

          Like I said, book reviewing seems to have become an inordinately emotive subject for some unfathomable reason; taken personally, given personally, with hurt dished out on both sides. I agree that making phone calls to someone is wrong, but it’s also criminal, and phone calls should and can be tracked by the police where e-mails cannot. It is also a very extreme type of behaviour which doesn’t affect the vast majority of reviewers and we can’t live our lives in constant fear of what happens the minority: if we did, we would never let our kids play outside, go to school, run, walk, or travel in a car.

          The title of this post is meant to inspire debate. If I’d used the title “The Personal Thoughts on Book Reviews of a Random Irish Blogger You’ve Never Heard Of”, you’d never have read it in the first place. If you take it to mean that writers hate you, then there’s not much I can do about it!

          Like you said, we’re unlikely to agree on a whole range of things, not least what you believe I mean by what I said. And a lot of this is a whole different debate on current online behaviour, which would need a degree in law to entangle. Just ask Twitter.

          For my part, my first rule of internet behaviour – and that’s with putting my real name out there – is to not take anything personally from people I don’t know, nor believe that I have a basic human right not to be offended or insulted. I reckon sticking to that will make for a much easier life in general.

          Like

  24. Jon Clemens
    May 7, 2014 at 2:26 am

    Excuse me? Why do you think people should be required to give up their anonymity on the internet? What precious little they already have? Do you have any idea what a person, any person can do with just your name, in some cases, and a little bit of general information about you? Like what state you live in? Anything they want. Drive to your house with a shotgun for example. This kind of information takes a little time to tease out, but in many in many cases it isn’t terribly difficult once you have a little bit to go on.

    You wanna know what the real answer to ‘review bullying’ is? Its really simple. Its been implemented elsewhere on the internet for years. The solution is for Amazon and Goodreads and whoever else allows people to write and post book reviews to MODERATE THEIR FREAKING CONTENT. Thats right. Amazon quit being lazy, cough up some cash and pay some some goons to moderate the content of their reviews and posts for bullying. Forums and boards on the internet have been doing this for years. Attaching real names to book reviews is stupid, and quite frankly, it would drastically harm Amazon’s business model (which is why it will never happen). Not my real name on this post btw.

    Like

    • May 7, 2014 at 9:54 am

      Hi “Jon”. Yes, I suppose I should re-think that. Nobody wants the Author Inquisition turning up to their door. They did at my Granny’s house, and she’s still on the booze, 5 months later. On a better note, however, it cured her of her addiction to Twitter.

      I offered to moderate her drinking, but she turned me down and then turned the water hose on me. She’s a tough nut, my Gran.

      Like

  25. May 7, 2014 at 6:10 am

    Reblogged this on Jo Robinson.

    Like

  26. Reviewer since before self-published ebooks were on amazon
    May 7, 2014 at 8:37 am

    The 2-hour rule before posting is good, particularly if you don’t have a rave review.

    Except if you loved something and are moved to gush — and the site you are posting on let’s you edit typos later — go for it. Passion is good, particularly first response, un-orchestrated, unedited words clearly from your heart.

    Nasty or critical rants, pause before posting. Both to make sure that is what you still want to say after you’ve simmered down a little and because what goes on the internet is forever (even if only in cached pages or someone’s screenshots). You’re pretty much guaranteed that whoever you offend will be holding up the typo-ridden version to ridicule and not the later edited one.

    Of course, on some sites, always type and edit your posts offline where you can save often. By thinking too hard and pausing, I’ve lost a few carefully constructed reviews to site “oops” on sites that don’t let you write drafts or save in-progress.

    I still will never understand why star ratings and reviews (that fall within site guidelines which include prohibiting personal attacks) are ever called bullying. Or why no one seems to care how demeaning that is to actual victims of bullying. If a post is not somehow attacking pm harassing or threatening you — how is it bullying? One little mis-click of a mouse or tap on a cell phone touchscreen leaving an accidental star rating surely does not equate to being bullied. An adult author continually attacking a 13-year old reviewer on other sites that do allow personal attacks for saying “not for me” (even after they deleted the review and said were so upset they were not likely to ever review again) … red flag.

    I trust reviews from friends (and reviewers I followed because the reviews struck a chord with me or I kept seeing them have similar reading tastes) whose reading tastes I know. Sometimes just because we always disagree. I loathe YA love triangle angst and one reviewer I avidly follow loves them.

    I mostly read books by favorite authors. New reads I choose via the book synopsis and sample (often discovered and blurb read because if a followed reviewer’s posts). If on the fence (there are some murky blurbs out there) I’ll check reviews and discussions and chat with friends who read to get a better idea.

    Unless I have a very clear idea of someone’s reading tastes, star ratings with no review are useless in my decision making. Reviews consisting solely of “I loved it” or “I hated it” are also useless, again, unless I am very sure I know the reader’s personal tastes.

    Doesn’t mean anything whether or not I find reviews useful or helpful. Someone will if only the reviewer who wrote. That’s just not what book reviews are. Book reviews are just consumer product opinions and expressions of that individual’s reading experience or whatever else they choose to write in the review space (provided within site guidelines).

    The activity, reviews, discussions, shelving/wishlisting, etc. aid in book discoverability whether good or bad publicity being generated; that’s what the self/indie published authors need. Discoverability. Hundreds of thousands of new books each month means your book could languish completely unseen.

    Being unseen or unheard seems to drive some reviewers and authors off the deep end. Some of the worst antics come right before a book launches (or right after if seems to be languishing unnoticed). Drama for publicity so book is discovered and so either side ( author or reviewer) can martial up their minions in support.

    Heck, I saw one author go bonkers [whose book had an average rating of 4½ stars, more than 200 positive ratings (all older around launch date with little activity since)] when getting a single new one-star rating screaming how that fake one-star from someone they knew had never bought or read the book meant the author was being stalked, cyber-bullied and gang-raped by reviewers — and, of course, turns out they were launching a new book.

    Reviews are not for anyone other than the reviewer. We’re happy enough if it does help a fellow reader decide or find new readers to have book discussions with and follow. But, it’s just an overflow of our passion for books getting an outlet and because we enjoy writing reviews. The side effect of otherwise unknown books/authors being discovered — particularly if it meant we found new gems to read and new favorite authors — used to be great even if unintended. Used to be. Not now that anything other than glowing praise can lead to attacks by those same authors.

    We’re even unsure about recommending an indie as “okay to review; doesn’t attack their customers” because maybe they just haven’t gotten that review that leads to a meltdown.

    Respect? For professionally behaving authors providing a well-written book (however published), you bet. All the respect in the world. Respect for anyone uploading a pile of barely readable words as if a published book — not in this lifetime. Respect for authors going ballistic over a star rating — nope.

    Respect for authors demeaning bully victims and undermining bully prevention efforts? Nope. Replaced any previous reviews with vague one-star ones. And I will be boycotting.

    Bullied by a star rating….puh-Lease.

    Like

    • May 7, 2014 at 10:07 am

      Great comment. You make a great point especially, in saying that “I loved it” or “I hated it” reviews are no good to you. I think some authors get ridiculously upset with random strangers saying they hated their book, but in reality, as a reader, I would completely disregard such a review unless it was backed up by very well-explained reasoning.

      The majority of the time, in fact, those reviews just annoy me, and lead me to try and find a better review to see if I might prefer their reviewing effort, and if I do – well, then, the author has a sale. There’s many a negative review which has actually led to me buying a book. I wish authors knew that!

      And as for calling a one-star review “bullying” – yeah, well. What can you do about writers with skins as thin as that? They shouldn’t be allowed to read their own reviews if they take things that personally.

      Like

  27. May 7, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    This is a well documented subject but I applaud you for emphasising it again. I particularly agree with the first rule. Authors stick their necks out when they publish their work in the public arena. Their name is attached to their work and this opens them up for all kinds of criticisms, as well as praise of course. It only seems fair that reviewers who are commenting on that work in the same public arena should have their work open to criticism (or praise) too. This might help the reviewers write on a more constructive level. No author should object to a negative review which helps to highlight obvious editing faults, or lack of continuity, or other obvious mistakes. A good reviewer is invaluable to authors.

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 7, 2014 at 7:59 pm

      I agree – invaluable doesn’t even begin to describe it! All the authors I talk to are crying out for reviews. They don’t care if they’re good or bad, they genuinely just want more reviews. It’s a symbiotic, sometimes messy relationship, sure. But it should be an open one. It’s all about not saying anything you wouldn’t say to someone’s face. If we could fix that, we could fix the internet.

      Like

  28. May 7, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    Reblogged this on cicampbellblog and commented:

    Book reviewers? Love them or hate them?
    A necessary evil? Or a helpful tool?
    A very helpful post from Tara Sparling suggesting some rules for book reviewers, so that those they review might not view them as unnecessary evil!

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 7, 2014 at 8:12 pm

      And just remember folks. We need each other. We should love each other too :0

      Like

  29. Rabindranauth
    May 7, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    Interesting post. I’m not a professional reviewer, but I do review the books I read; that’s all I ever really post on my blog. Because of the attacks I’ve seen by certain authors on reviewers on GoodReads, I make it a point to follow a very simple template where it comes to my reviews: a description of the book I put together myself, what I liked, what I hated, and if I’d recommend it. I usually use examples of what I see as flaws in the story, or what elements I liked most to help in this. It’s all a rather self-centered affair 😀 If I enjoyed a book, I really can’t help but gush about it, but if I hated it? I eviscerate it. Way I see it, making a review based on my feelings gives me the moral high ground; I think an author would have to be seriously asinine to tell me what my feelings should be about their book.

    Like

    • May 7, 2014 at 8:08 pm

      Nobody should ever tell you what your feelings are. But is hatred not a very strong emotion to use for a book? Would irritation do instead?

      Like

      • Rabindranauth
        May 7, 2014 at 8:58 pm

        Well thankfully because of how I screen books before buying, most of the stuff I read I really enjoy. Occasionally I’ve read books that really did irritate me, thankfully I hardly encounter any of those. But very rarely, I think only twice, to be honest, I’ve read books that hatred is the only word that really describes it. They’re very, very rare, but they happen enough for me to accept that I will encounter books I just plain hate over the course of my life.

        Liked by 1 person

        • May 7, 2014 at 10:04 pm

          That’s fair enough. I was just making sure you weren’t in some sort of permanent book hell, surrounded by hateful texts 🙂

          Like

          • Rabindranauth
            May 7, 2014 at 10:15 pm

            Lol, nah. I’m on a student budget, so I basically use a combination of GoodReads and Worlds Without End to try and get the most enjoyement for every dollar I spend >_>

            Like

      • May 7, 2014 at 10:35 pm

        Nope. When something is as lazily written and sloppily researched as Transformers: Retribution, I am angered. When I could fix all the continuity errors by watching the cartoon that is supposed to be set in the same continuity? You bet I’m angry. I’m angry that I was duped into spending the time and money on that dreck, I’m angry that it didn’t explain how characters who pretty clearly die – oil spilled is mentioned – show up at the end without ever explaining how. /It can’t even stay in continuity within itself./

        But thank you. Despite not telling me how I feel, you’re also telling me some emotions are too strong for a book? Well, that’s not contradicting yourself. At all.

        Or what about the fact that you say authors might hate us less? Implying, what, that they all hate us for reviewing in the first place? And our reward for considering their feelings is that there’s a /chance/ they might hate us less?

        I have some some GIFs that perfectly explain how I’m feeling right now.

        Also, this is full of fail. Someone who’s been subjected to sexual and gender harassment by authors who can’t take criticism? Does not care what they thing. At all. This whole article is ridiculous. And I’m serious – your header? Implies that all authors hate all reviewers. That’s a pretty big blanket statement there, so I’d consider revising unless you meant that. And if you plan on publishing? Plan on having people say similar things. I do hope you get a better editor for your novels if you plan to publish. I certainly won’t be paying for your work based on the logic fail in this article as other comments have noted, the contradicting statements, and you telling me how I feel about a book.

        Every time I start getting less angry at Hasbro for green lighting Retribution as is, I see that book or some comment like this comes back, and I think back – and yes, I /hated/ that book. With a fiery passion.

        Like

        • May 7, 2014 at 10:36 pm

          Think not thing.

          Like

        • May 7, 2014 at 10:56 pm

          Ah now, lads! This is getting very heated and there’s no need at all at all! Catchy headlines get traffic. There’s no deeper meaning to it and I’m not implying anything. It’s shallow but also the 3rd cardinal rule of the Internet (after the life span of memes and the prevalence of cat videos). Can’t we all just get along? After all, it’s bedtime in Ireland, I have work in the morning, and I wouldn’t be able to sleep if you stayed that upset…

          Like

          • May 7, 2014 at 11:04 pm

            Um, yes, the words have /meanings/. Just because you’re trying to be catchy, it doesn’t mean that people won’t read the words as written.

            And as for getting along? Pfft. Tell the people who think reviews, no matter how snarky, are fodder for calling me a /tranny/, telling me no one with a heartbeat would be attracted to me because I’m so ugly, and the list goes on.

            Yeah, I’m a little jaded when it comes to authors who believe they are above criticism and the people who go round, saying reviewers are so nasty and if they get harassed, they deserve it. Now, again, your post doesn’t say this – but you do sound an awful lot like your saying it’s our jobs to keep writers happy. In my personal experience, this isn’t that far off from the people who say that I deserved to get mocked for my physical appearance and my name dragged through the mud for pointing out continuity errors and that some writing out there, quite frankly, sucks.

            Yeah, I have /strong feelings/ about this.

            PS – I sleep just fine. I threw around other books after reading Retribution – yeah, I took it out on other books – and then wrote a long review with all my bookmarks going over everything that was wrong with it, then slept fine. But I guess that’s just me. Things as poorly conceived as Retribution happen, and then I get over it. I guess that’s just because I haven’t read Kiss Players yet, though…

            Like

            • May 7, 2014 at 11:06 pm

              PS – as threears warns, using your real name can have consequences. I’m this close to getting a lawyer to try to make the harassment over reviews stopped.

              I’ve never thought about authors and how they feel when writing reviews, and I’m less inclined to do so now. If the book is poorly written, yeah, I’ll point out the errors.

              Like

            • May 7, 2014 at 11:11 pm

              No, no, I was being purely selfish, I’m afraid it was my own sleep I was worried about. You sound less upset with me though so I’m sure will sleep better.

              Personal attacks suck. But I hope you would disregard any ad hominem argument regarding your appearance, etc., as the work of a feeble mind. Anyone who resorts to such lazy and unimaginative retorts shows themselves to be someone incapable of winning an argument and should be disregarded with impunity, surely?

              And – this is the important bit – please don’t accuse me of saying it’s anyone’s job to keep authors happy. Don’t you know that authors are NEVER happy? I may be a lot of things, but Einstein’s definition of madness is not one of them 😉

              Like

              • May 8, 2014 at 3:08 am

                When they go after you pretty consistently, it can wear down on you. They are fighting with the wrong person, as I may have off days – but I bounce back quickly, and I know exactly what it is. And it’s not just about them winning an argument. I may have been snarky, but I criticized art. Calling me those kinds of names, though? It’s either sexual or gender harassment, and does not fly. I will no longer sit by and stand by this.

                And again, and I’m not trying to be rude, but your arguments sound very similar to theirs – enough that people who have supported that site in the past have come here and tried to throw you glitter parades. It’s hard not to look at that, and go, ‘well, if those two things are true…’

                If it’s not about making authors happy, then why say you’re trying to get them to hate you less?

                PS – I’ve gone to Readercon pretty regularly for the past four or so years. The authors there mostly seem pretty happy, and are lovely people. When I mention how much I love their books that I’ve read/are in the middle of reading, they tend to tell me things like I’ve made their day. One author wrote about me in a blog for being part of a fandom (related to a panel), I connected with him on that blog, reread one of his books, posted a glowing review – which he highlighted on his blog. Um, not all authors hate me. And not all authors are unhappy. Come to Readercon this year, and I guarantee you’ll meet more than one happy author – who won’t hate you.

                Like

  30. May 7, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    Reblogged this on Author P.S. Bartlett and commented:
    If you’re seriously thinking about becoming a book reviewer, these rules are a very good place to start. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 7, 2014 at 8:11 pm

      Just don’t tell the existing reviewers that. They may not be amused…

      Like

  31. May 7, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    The second rule is something I’ve seen many reviewers avoiding, intentionally or subconsciously? I’m not sure. Some reviewers are under a spell that makes them think that if they didn’t like what everyone likes, then they are more special, that’s why I see some reviews that, though in their original intention, appeared to be honest… but they end up judgmental.

    And thanks to goodreads.. everyone now is a critic… wish they would learn the rules.

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 7, 2014 at 10:09 pm

      There is a very, very fine line between opinion and judgement, isn’t there? And it’s as easy to blame how it’s received, as it is to be judgemental in the first place. At least if you try to back up why you don’t like what you don’t like, though, then people who read your reviews can make their minds up about whether they agree with your review or not.

      Like

  32. threears
    May 7, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    First, let’s remember the fact that there is no such thing as a place where only nice people go on the internet. If you share your real name anywhere, you put yourself in danger. That’s not me saying it, that’s people who work in law enforcement saying it. If you want to do that as an author that’s your choice, and you at least have the compensation of (maybe) getting fame and fortune out of the deal. But you don’t have the right to tell me I have to do the same, or else I’m just a bully who’s too ashamed of what I’m saying to use my real name. It’s not an either-or situation, and to claim otherwise is narrow-minded and willfully ignorant.

    For the record, I’m not ashamed of what I say, and I own every review I write. If you want to complain about me, you have a name you can use. I’m not “anonymous” at all, because every site I use knows how to contact me, and can ban me if I break the rules. Unlike truly “anonymous” comments which have no owner. What you can’t do is come after me at home or at work, and if you don’t want to do those things, why do you need my name? Is it just an excuse to feel better about dismissing my opinion? Okay. It doesn’t actually make my opinion irrelevant, but if it makes you feel better, dismiss me. That’s generally what authors do with negative reviews anyway: come up with some excuse why the review is invalid. “Reviewer isn’t using real name” is as good as any, I suppose. But have the courtesy to admit that’s what your doing, rather than claiming the flaw is in my character. And hey, that saves you coming up with an excuse for why that real name review is invalid!

    Second, your argument that we don’t need anonymity in the book world because people share too much on facebook is illogical and dismissive. How is the fact that OTHER PEOPLE share too much (and in a different venue) at all relevant? An idiot shares an embarrassing selfie with friends on facebook, and that means I’m not entitled to MY privacy on Amazon or Goodreads or my blog?

    Yes, there is something of a trend with people, particularly young people, sharing ridiculous amounts of information on the internet. Smart people recognize that as a problem, and will tell them: do not do that. (Including those aforementioned law enforcement organizations.) But the fact that some people are stupid doesn’t mean that everyone has to be. Tara, if all those people decide to jump off a bridge, do I have to do the same?

    Third, just because it’s possible to stop someone from harassing you (over a BOOK REVIEW!) doesn’t mean that it’s a desirable situation. It doesn’t make it any less horrifying or unsettling. It doesn’t make it any less disturbing. And it’s not something that happens immediately. So I really wish people would quit using the call the police defense, because it downplays the entire experience. Since those people are, in the next breath, proclaiming that anonymity isn’t necessary and that reviewers are mean bullies, it’s like they’re really saying: “Oh boo-hoo. So you’re getting scary calls and can’t sleep! Just call the police. I’ve got a REAL problem. There are people who left negative reviews on my book!” Yes. And those reviews sit there. They don’t follow you around, and they don’t call you in the dead of night. Sometimes other people read them and find them helpful, but that’s the extent of their activity.

    Lastly, your belief that it’s a rare thing for an author to go off the deep end is demonstrably incorrect. Every week there’s another one threatening law suits or complaining about how “really awful” a review was. And that “really awful” review was two sentences long and about as bland as you can get while not liking a book.

    The problem is not that reviewers are mean or anonymous. The problem is that there are a lot of “authors” who can’t write and suffer both from delusions of grandeur and from having an extremely thin skin. Authors already have tools to deal with reviews which are truly outside the bounds. What they want now is a way to silence the people who are following the rules, and so they can’t get us banned. That’s the purpose of the anti-anonymity petition. It’s the ultimate way to intimidate reviewers into silence–because if we can’t be safe on the internet, we’re not going to say anything at all. And it comes pre-loaded with a victory cry: we silenced the bullies! That sounds a lot better than the truth: we stripped away a layer of safety!

    Like

    • May 7, 2014 at 10:49 pm

      Thank you for the time and effort you and the other OPs have put into your comments on this issue. In one way, the debate makes me kind of sad, because it seems like there’s this massive, vitriolic Authors Vs Reviewers war going on out there, which is extremely unfortunate, because authors need reviewers so badly, and vice versa. They are each other’s life support.

      If I’d had the sort of extremely negative experiences you and some other OPs have described here, I’d feel more raw about personal attacks – of course I would, if people were calling my house. But we should also be careful about how we argue. Ad hominem or straw man arguments bring the debate into another territory, which only ever gets more and more negative, begets greater upset and defensiveness, and then next thing you know, everyone’s offended to the point that nothing good can be said at all.

      Criticism is always best delivered with a sweetener. A person may listen if you say “I liked blah but the blah blah didn’t work”, whereas if you jump straight in with “I hated this book, it was rubbish and everything was wrong with it” it’s not constructive and doesn’t give any incentive to be taken on board. I’m not saying that some authors don’t act out of order – there are some real crazies out there. But some criticism is out of order too. I see the anonymity issue differently, purely because I think there is a huge difference between what we say in private, and what we want ourselves to be heard to say in public; the Internet is a public forum and should be respected as such.

      I’m conscious that what I say here is published for all to see. There is a tongue-in-cheek tone to this blog, which I know not everyone will realise when stopping by only briefly, and of course, I’m also trying to be catchy, and start debate, and do all those shallow things to get attention. And yet, even though I would never say something negative here about either 1 person, or 1 book, I’m regularly surprised by how many OPs take things I say personally, as if I were speaking only to them. It’s just the way people are now.

      If we were a bit nicer to each other, we’d all listen to each other more. But saying that in such a climate somehow feels about as innocent as a Disney fairytale.

      Like

      • LG
        May 7, 2014 at 11:17 pm

        “Criticism is always best delivered with a sweetener. A person may listen if you say “I liked blah but the blah blah didn’t work”, whereas if you jump straight in with “I hated this book, it was rubbish and everything was wrong with it” it’s not constructive and doesn’t give any incentive to be taken on board.”

        That’s the thing, though – reviews aren’t meant for authors. They don’t have to be constructive. The reviews I and many others write are meant for other readers, for ourselves, for our friends. If an author wants valuable criticism intended to help them improve their writing, what they want is beta readers and editors, not reviewers. I and most reviewers I know of aren’t thinking about authors at all when we write our opinions about books, the same way most people aren’t thinking about clothing designers when they say “This dress is ugly and uncomfortable.”

        Liked by 1 person

        • May 7, 2014 at 11:28 pm

          I didn’t mean authors, though, I meant people like me, who rely on reviews to making buying decisions. If a reviewer doesn’t like something, I want to know why, because I don’t know whether what bothered them, would bother me. One book, for instance, had a reviewer which said they hated the book because they bought it thinking it was about one thing when it only had a bit of that theme and a lot of something else they weren’t interested in at all. When I read the review I decided that I wouldn’t mind that, so I bought it. And I liked it.
          Saying that a dress is ugly and uncomfortable tells me why I might not like to wear that dress. Saying a book was rubbish and everything was wrong with it doesn’t give me anything concrete to back it up, so I don’t take it into account when buying a book.

          Like

      • threears
        May 8, 2014 at 11:54 am

        “But we should also be careful about how we argue. Ad hominem or straw man arguments bring the debate into another territory, which only ever gets more and more negative, begets greater upset and defensiveness, and then next thing you know, everyone’s offended to the point that nothing good can be said at all.”

        I have no idea how I’m supposed to take this. Are you accusing me of ad hominem attacks and straw man arguments? If so, then I’m afraid you are in error, for I responded to your arguments by skewering them directly. If you’re not accusing me, then I’m even more confused as to why you would bring this up.

        But hey, let’s take this and run with it. When you say:

        “Anonymous reviewers or opinion posters are the second scourge of the Internet (after Facebook, obviously), and should never be allowed. If you wouldn’t want your name associated with a comment, don’t write it. But if a reviewer wouldn’t care to put their own name to a review, they have no business letting it out in public without a leash.”

        you’re committing the very fallacies you say we need to avoid. First, ad hominem: you are dismissing anonymous reviewers not on the basis of what we say, but by virtue of our anonymity. In fact, you don’t even care what we say, because you feel we have no right to say anything. There is very little difference in that and saying reviews by [insert demographic here] shouldn’t be allowed simply because they’re [demographic]. Attacking anonymity is a bit more PC, but functionally speaking the logic (or lack thereof) is the same.

        (Please note: the same holds true of contentions such as “anonymous reviewers are bullies” or “anonymous reviewers are trolls”. The more tactful, “anonymous reviews are (too) harsh”, is somewhat safer, as it is at least addressing the content of the review, not the reviewer. It’s still not a conclusive argument, however. For that, you’d have to prove (a) that there is no value in “harsh” reviews, and (b) that real name reviews are markedly less “harsh” than anonymous ones. Good luck with that.)

        Then you make several more logical fallacies while attempting to make your dismissal of anonymous reviews seem reasonable. People who write anonymous reviews are bad because we’re anonymous (hello, circular reasoning), and anonymity itself is bad because only cowards ashamed to own their opinions use it (more ad hominem–being a coward doesn’t mean you can’t recognize a bad book when you read it).

        As providing cowardly meanies a forum is clearly not a good reason to allow anonymous reviews, your argument that we should stop allowing them is easily accepted. Except, of course, that “because it allows me to say mean things without recourse” is neither the only reason to post anonymously, nor the primary one. As such, this is something of a straw man argument: the anonymous reviewer you’ve discredited and dismissed is certainly not representative of actual anonymous reviewers.

        So yes, you should be careful before using this sort of argument. Not only does it not persuade people, but it tends to make the accused annoyed enough to come over and present well-thought-out arguments for why you’re wrong.

        Like

        • May 8, 2014 at 3:45 pm

          Grand so, you’re right and I’m wrong, let’s call the whole thing off!

          Look, I’m getting a lot of traffic here this week from a whole other battleground which has been raging happily for quite a while without me. So when it dies off, let’s have a cup of tea and a bun, and see if we can’t find something that makes us laugh. Thank you for your time and commentary.

          Like

      • May 8, 2014 at 10:21 pm

        Hi Tara.

        You’re right. There is an Author vs Reviewer war going on, but speaking as an author, I would have to say that authors started it. The one mistake many writers make is thinking that the review is for them and its purpose is to evaluate them instead of their story.

        I’ve seen so many fellow writers get a bug up their ass about the slightest little thing in a review. My advice for what it’s worth, when a book is published, it ceases to be yours and becomes part of the ether. Just let it go and start thinking about the next story.

        Liked by 1 person

        • May 9, 2014 at 9:27 am

          Hi Tim. Thanks for stopping by. Maybe someone should do some sort of thesis on this war, and end up with the first truly groundbreaking work in social psychology since those dodgy advertising industry studies in the 60s. Personally, I’d rather read a good book 🙂

          Like

  33. May 8, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    As a writer I have to say that, personally at least, it doesn’t matter to me if the review is ‘helpful’ or not. I have a certain way of doing things and a certain way of writing. No matter what any reviewer says that’s not going to change. Love my books or hate them, they’re MY books. If I felt I needed to kill so and so I would have done it. You don’t agree? I can’t help you. I love getting nice reviews like everyone else, and the bad ones are unpleasant but I never look to my reviews for feedback purposes. I find that’s a mistake a lot of writers make. When they don’t get as many reviews as they want they say things like, ‘how will I know how to improve if I don’t get any feedback?’ Reviews are not feedback. Reviews are reviews. I tell them to think of the book they love the most in this world. Perhaps even the book that made them want to be a writer in the first place and go to Amazon and filter the reviews by the one star variety. Once you get through a few of them you’ll feel a lot better about your negative ones. Whenever I get a bad review I go to Amazon and look at the one star reviews of The Diary of Anne Frank. Seriously, any writer reading this needs to go right now and look at that. Still feel bad? Probably not.
    I can’t remember who said it but, “It’s a lot easier to criticize an act of creation than to perform one.” That alone is the reason I don’t take reviews too seriously. If you’re a writer and the bad reviews are really bothering you I also suggest that you read, The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield. If I could afford it I’d buy hundreds of copies and mail them out to every writer who puts too much stock in reviews. It’s better to be in the arena getting stomped by the bull than up in the stands or out in the parking lot. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 8, 2014 at 3:51 pm

      I think I wasn’t clear on the helpfulness issue: what I really meant was helpful for readers like me who rely to a large extent on reviews on self-published stuff in order to make a buying decision, rather than something targeted at writers. But I like your philosophy. I would also like a copy of that book when you’re rich and famous please and thank you 😉

      Like

  34. May 8, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    Agree with Ali. I’ve never allowed a review to sell me a book, and never allowed a review to put me off a book. No two readers will ever interpret the same book in precisely the same way – and of course, no author will ever please everyone.

    Tara: I get what you’re saying about the 10% sample sparkling & then being disappointed in the remainder. You can always return the entire ebook, with the explanation that the sample’s good, but the rest well below par.

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 8, 2014 at 9:50 pm

      Ah no, no matter how the book turns out, I can’t help but respect great book marketing, though. If their blurb and 10% sample drew me in, then they deserved my money, because they made me want to buy it, and that was my decision. Caveat Emptor and all that!

      Like

  35. Summer
    May 15, 2014 at 2:43 am

    I agree with you in all except about using your real name. Someone already said that people share too much of their lives and who they are online and I agree. I believe in creating an alter ego and maintaining and sustaining it with you own personality. I do that and my reviews are not less honest because of it. I share what I think of the book, what it made me feel, what I got from reading it. I try to be fair and honest and never mean. If I can’t give a book three stars I rather not write a review unless it was an Arc, in that case I submit the feedback to the publishing house and ask them if they would prefer me not posting it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 15, 2014 at 9:43 am

      Thanks for your comment, Summer. That’s a very conscientious approach, full of thought and effort. Honesty is the key, when all is said and done.

      Like

  36. May 24, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    Reblogged this on jorjao2013 and commented:
    This was a wonderful article on writing reviews. Take a look. I have been trying to get more reviews over the last month. After reading this article my need for reviews really have become less important.(sould I say my need as a review being feed back.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 24, 2014 at 6:58 pm

      Thanks for the re-blog, jorjao2013. Opinion seems to be really split over the essential function of reviews. Many believe that feedback is pointless after a book has already been published. Either way, writing groups and beta readers are an essential tool for any author thinking of self-publishing. Traditional publishing is a whole other ball game…

      Like

  37. June 6, 2014 at 11:57 am

    Thanks for the post. I’ll try to keep it in mind when I post reviews (I think I mostly do, but I’ll make sure I don’t forget any of the points). With regards to reviews I’ve had, I’ve had some comments about endings of stories for instance that did make me think, whose story is this? Yes, it could be different but then it wouldn’t be the story I wrote…

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 6, 2014 at 1:33 pm

      Agreed. There’s such a big difference between being a beta reader and reviewing: that’s what I try to remember. It’s not always easy but it is always possible.

      Like

  38. January 6, 2015 at 11:12 pm

    Laughing…….Oh dear I am certain I have broken all these rules. But then, I tend to break rules unless I can see their necessity………Honestly, an alternative would be to read reviews with a grain (or tablespoon) of salt. Pay attention to those that resonate with you and ignore those that seem spiteful. Kinda like I do with gossip, if it seems to have some merit I listen, if it doesn’t, it is just static……
    Love this post, it actually provoked a dissenting response in me. You should consider this a complement, and if not, ignore…… it is just noise! 😉 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 7, 2015 at 12:04 am

      I’m delighted to get a laugh! The tone of this post was meant to be quite salty in itself. And as with reviews, everything is subject to opinion and I’m glad you wanted to comment!

      Like

  39. April 15, 2015 at 11:39 pm

    I much agree with your points here… Some reviews seem to be written on purpose… I don´t know but I find absolutely rude to post a review destroying another writer´s work… I´d rather say to myself¨ I hate this book … It was a nightmare¨ than to put the burden over someone else´head… At the end, I read the whole book, so I can´t be that bad! 😛
    Have a great day! Aquileana 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • April 15, 2015 at 11:53 pm

      Thanks Aquileana. It’s a hot (and heated) topic, but for anyone who bases their book-buying decisions heavily on reviews, a very important one.

      Liked by 1 person

  40. May 6, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    Just wanted to tell you I’ve shared this post with my critique group because I think it’s great! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • May 6, 2015 at 2:36 pm

      Careful with the kind words, now. There’s some that don’t like it! I’m very appreciative though 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  41. September 30, 2015 at 5:33 pm

    very good!

    Like

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