Sunday, September 23, 2012

Why do a review?

All right, straight up front I’m warning you that I’m about to have a quick bitchfest here. I know I’ve talked about reviews, and now we’re going to take another foray into the murky waters of reviews. (See, this is why you were warned!)

I’ve noticed a trend recently that makes me wonder many things, mostly it makes me wonder if people have forgotten how to really read? I realize we’re all pressed for time, but if you want to read a book and then offer thoughts on it, wouldn’t it be prudent, and a little more fair to the author, if you actually took the time to do it with honest thought? What brought this on, you wonder? Well, I’ve published two short stories with Ellora’s Cave, and I was sent a couple of recent reviews that made me wonder about this very issue!

So, you buy a book that’s classified a “Quickie” by the publisher. For those of you who miss the obvious connotation to the imprint name, this means you’re purchasing a short story between 7500 and 15,000 words. So, up front you know you’re getting a short, sexy, intense story–a Quickie! So, realistically, why would the bulk of your review complaint be that the story was not long enough? That you wanted more is very flattering to the author’s skill to tell the story, but is it fair to actually denote your review “stars/points” because of the story’s length? Think about that before you exercise your right to influence other people with your statements and thoughts. How fair are you being? You knew going in the story was short, didn’t you?

Then there’s the other “complaint” I’ve seen about my first book–it’s written in first person and I hate first person. Again, you (the reader) knew that going in, the excerpt on the websites illustrate the first person narrative. So, if you don’t like that voice, why did you buy the book and decide to use your dislike of a style to diminish the author’s work? See, for me, as an author, none of this matters much–I’m going to keep writing and you’re going to keep reading and reviewing, maybe not my books, but other people’s. Let’s just say this–try to be more fair in your observations in future, for other readers and for the authors you support. Not everyone writes a “winner” every time out, but most of us work hard at what we do. All we ask is that you give us a fair chance to entertain you.

I’ve already bitched about the way Amazon allows reviews, but a final note to that. Making snide comments on the other reviews, or hitting one star so you can drop the five star rating on a book is showing what an ass YOU are, not how bad the author is, so think about what you’re doing there, too. At the end of the day, people are never going to wholly agree about any artistic endeavour, so why not use some balanced judgement and diplomacy when you’re going to write a review. Rants might entertain your friends, but as a general rule, they do nothing but alienate serious readers.

Happy reading….


  1. Here's a variation on a rant. Amazon has been systematically removing my literary reviews (you've seen them and you know how detailed and carefully written they are). This is without explanation and there's no way for me to question 'why'. I follow their guidelines explicitly, I rate fairly, everywhere from 1 to 5 stars. They accept the reviews, they're onsite a few hours, then 'poof'. Gone.
    Yet I can cite innumerable instances of sock puppet/fake/paid for reviews, both for the Big Six and for less well-known authors.
    Ask me why I should even bother doing a review now?

  2. Believe me, I have noticed... and the insulting and childish shit that remains in place. I've seen too much of the pettiness and mean-spirited snarks to value ANY review on Amazon anymore. Goodreads isn't quite as bad as Amazon's site, but I still check independent review sites more often than not lately - and yeah, I wonder why I attempt fair reviews, too... Makes you wonder, doesn't it? Thanks, Diane.

  3. Wow, I can feel your anger coming through in this post. I think a lot of writers have been there before and felt the same way so I can understand where you're coming from with this. I think the part that bothers me most is when people devalue somebody's review simply because they didn't like the book. Just because you didn't doesn't mean the other 5-star reviewers had to feel the same way, or that they must be family or friends of the author because they liked the book. I have actually stopped reading reviews. Unless somebody tells me that they wrote one I don't go on Amazon in search of them.

    I don't write many book reviews anymore, but I haven't seen them vanish on Amazon. I'm not sure why legitimate reviews are vanishing when there are some seriously nasty reviews attacking other reviewers that stay up indefinitely.

  4. I try to review, but sometimes it's well after the read. I agree--read the blurb, the cover, whatever. I've had a few "I don't usually read these sorts of stories" reviews. They're a mixed blessing, aren't they? Just as the, "I wanted more" reviews.

    in the end, I guess we take what we get.

  5. Yeah, it's not so much anger as it is just frustration at the way some people approach all this. It's just part of the whole "safe behind a screen" mentality that's making otherwise decent people into cyber-bullies and snarky assholes who forget they're dealing with real people, regardless of the distance.

    I think a lot of people are giving up on reviews, really. And rightly so with the current trends.

  6. For me Denyse, all your stories are like forbidden fruit and I always want more. However, that's hardly a complaint. I don't know why I'm being so optimistic since I'm too much of a coward to read any reviews on my own but look hon, you write awesome stories-and many have had me jogging to the cold shower.

  7. Hello Denyse, I understand your frustration and anger. I'm one of those readers that do not read any type of reviews posted on Amazon, blogs or elsewhere. What is beginning to bother me is that many authors are now doing reviews for other authors and this I feel to be discreditable since many are their friends. I'm more of a book cover person and I read the back cover that helps me decide which book to buy. As Nicole Noffsinger said, you're the best and I'm one of your devoted readers. C.J. Anthony

  8. Thank you so much, Cheryl. As I said, it's not so much anger as frustration - because I feel people aren't really reading, then when they buy something that isn't really what they thought, they "blame" the author, rather than accept or admit that they just didn't read as thoroughly as they should have before making the purchase. You have no idea how much support means to me, but I hope you know how sincerely appreciative I am of your kind words and the time you spend with my books.

    Huge hugs and many blessings to you,


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