You. Yes, you.
You speshul wittle snowflake.
Where to start . . .
Okay, once again, for the class, YOUR BOOK IS NOT YOUR BABY. Why do so many of you say that?! Just so you know, most people think not kind things about you if you spout that nonsense analogy. Shiloh Walker perfectly explains to you why it's ridiculous.
One review isn't going to make or break your career. Acting a fool about them might, though.
REVIEWS ARE NOT FOR YOU. Mine are, first and foremost, to get my feelings out because sometimes I have to get things out or I have to have my say. Second, they are for other readers. (Hey, imagine if my bad review stops someone else from reading your crappy book, hating it, and writing their own bad review. I saved you one. Or, I just may have convinced someone to read it. It's a win-win when you think about it.).
Reviews are not bullying. Just, shut up. No, seriously, shut. up.
Now, let's answer these bulleted points from the latest author who thinks they should control the reading and reviewing experience (and while I'm responding to this post, keep in mind that this author is not the only author who has said these exact same things. She's just the latest. Which is why some of what I say goes beyond the scope of her points. My responses go out to everyone who thinks this way):
1. Hahahahaha, you're kidding, right?! You want me to get permission from you to write a less than four or five star review? Then you'll help me craft a three star review as long as the criticism is constructive and you understand it? And one and two star reviews just should not exist, right? No, just . . . no. Ahahaha, NO. No one owes you a certain type of review. No one owes you not posting a negative rating or review. I've given both to books written by authors with whom I've had dinner and a great time. While I wish I had enjoyed their book, I'm not going to lie about it to myself and others. Bad reviews happen. It's the nature of the business. The only thing a reviewer owes you is acquiring your book legally.
And reviewers don't owe you constructive criticism. That's what your beta reader(s) and editor(s) are for. You had better be giving me the best product you can by the time I buy it. You want constructive criticism? You'd best be prepared to pay me for it before it's published.
By the way, no reviews are purely objective. Even professional ones. Stop whining about that.
2. I don't have to finish the book to review what I've read. That's nonsense. There's a reason why I didn't finish and I want to say what that is. And my reason(s) may help another person decide to read or not read. There's value in that. Get over it.
4. (Yes, four, because irony is not dead.) You are not purchasing my review. Poor grammar on my part does not absolve you of yours in a finished product you have released into the marketplace for purchase. I don't care how you're published (if you're self-publishing the second you place that book for sale you are saying your product is on par with any being produced by a publisher–there is no leeway here), your spelling and grammar should be impeccable in a product for which you want me pay money. The "I'm rubber, you're glue" defense doesn't work here.
And what in the blue devil makes so many of you think it's appropriate to charge people for a substandard product that you'll get right later for other customers? How can you even think that's okay? Let's apply that insane logic to other professions. Let's start with mine: "I'm a new attorney! I'm working to get better all the time! Sorry I screwed up and you won't get damages/you're going to jail. I'll get it right in the future with my supervisors/partners."
"Oops, sorry our medication killed so many people! We're working all the time to get better with the FDA and we'll have the formula refined and much safer in the future!"
"Goodness! Sorry you got food poisoning from my restaurant! I'm working all the time to learn how to prepare food properly and safely and I'm sure to get it right with the help of health inspectors for future patrons!"
I could keep going. At no point does that logic make sense. When you publish your book it should be the final, perfected version for every single consumer who purchases it. If it isn't, the book deserves to be blasted in any and all reviews. Oh, and no they don't owe you a reread and corrected/retracted review after you get around to fixing your substandard product.
- 5. I'll write my review how I want and say what I want about the book, thank you very much. As long as it's not a personal attack on you (and, no, talking about your writing is not a personal attack, it's fair game in this business), it shouldn't be a problem. (Think for a second about how you respond to television, movies, and music and the performers . . . thinking about it? Yeah, hypocrite, aren't you?) If you can't handle the reviews, don't read them. Again, they're not for you. Yes, something I hated is going to drive me to write more than something I loved. That's actually the same for all online reviews across the board. In fact, I think books get more people taking the time to write favorable reviews than anything else that gets reviewed online.
Oh, and about this: ". . . don't rip us to shreds . . ." While it feels personal, you need to separate yourself from your book. That's the quickest path to you thinking a review of the book is an attack on you. It isn't. It's about the book. This business has been the same way for centuries and it's not going to change because we're stuck with the "everyone gets a trophy!" generations now.
- 6. I'll refer you to what I said in item five above. If I want to say what I would have done with the story, I will. Come on now. There's no harm in that. It's my opinion of the book. Once again, the commentary isn't for you, it's what the reviewer thinks of the book. If everyone thought this way fan fiction wouldn't exist. (There's good and bad in that, but that's another post for another time.)
Okay, honestly, the whole last paragraph of that post is exactly why book reviews exist. I fail to understand why so many authors don't understand that. Sometimes there are things that are objectively bad in books (grammar, spelling, construction, etc.), but for the most part it is a matter of taste and readers can read a variety of views to determine whether or not a book is going to mesh with his or her tastes. I mean . . . that's the whole point!
If you can't handle reviews, don't read them. Most authors seem to understand this. They're for the person writing it and other readers. And if you are too sensitive to deal with the negative reviews and criticism then maybe you should consider finding another vocation or avocation. This one is not for you. The only thing you should expect out of a reviewer is to refrain from personal attacks and to not be the kind of jerk that sends their negative review, links to negative reviews, or "you should have written it this way" messages to you. Seriously, readers/reviewers, DON'T DO THAT. IT MAKES YOU AN ASSHOLE.