Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Reviewing the Reviewer

It’s always been my policy that the only correct response to give any reviewer of my books is a polite thank you, whether the review is good or bad. I still maintain that’s the only acceptable response to a review of my books. HOWEVER, and this is where I am speaking from today, as a reader, I have some very real issues with many of the reviews I’m reading on blog sites, Amazon sites, and Goodreads… which once WAS good-reads, and is now another corner stop for trashing authors with impunity.

My complaint or in some cases my bitch with amateur reviews is a complex yet simple thing. Firstly, let’s address those pesky snarks about grammar and typos. Well yes, everybody makes typing mistakes, and sometimes the proofreaders for publishing houses DO miss the occasional typo. This is a helluva lot different than self-published books, which sometimes have many uncorrected and obvious spelling errors because the author didn’t employ a proofreader. What I’ve noticed and this is what annoys the crap out of me honestly, is the vast number of reviewers who think it’s their job not to review and assess the story they’ve read, but the editorial decisions made about it. AND while they’re complaining about bad grammar and spelling errors, they reveal their own lack of skill in constructing a grammatically correct and properly spelled sentence. So, before you continue to demerit stars in your rating for what you consider poor grammar, look at your own. It’s difficult to take seriously a review in which the reviewer can’t use a contraction, doesn’t understand the different between your and you’re, or they’re and there/their. Ask any author how annoying that shit is?

Then there’s the reviewer who down-rates your book because it’s not what she/he expected. I’ve seen opening remarks that are laughable–I picked up this book expecting it to be ______________ (fill in the genre) and I was so disappointed to discover it was ________________(fill in the blank). Then the next comment is, so I’m giving it X-stars because it wasn’t what I wanted. And this is the author’s fault why? YOU didn’t read the blurb, or the back cover, so the author is at fault for your disappointment? I even had one reviewer rewrite my blurb to what she thought it should have been, and trust me, it made very little sense given what the book was about.

Just recently one of my books that has consistently been given 5 stars was reviewed by a blogger who was totally contradictory in her remarks–it should have been 50 pages longer at one point, and two sentences later it should have been cut several dozen pages, or at least cut out the number of sex scenes. Let me point out now that this title is an Ellora’s Cave Quickie™ title. Soooo…. What part of Quickie needs explaining? By definition a “quickie” is a highly erotic, explosive encounter that happens quickly–hence the name. Ellora’s Cave has defined the line, and sex is expected to happen fast and intense. IF you don’t want to read content that is highly sexual, why have you chosen a Quickie to review? You are already predisposed to dislike the book, no matter how it’s setup or executed by the author. How fair are you going to be to this author and his/her book? If erotic content offends you in any way, choose books more suited to your taste if you expect to be taken seriously by readers, and authors.

How many authors have been subjected to the endless rant review? Where one point in a novel length story touches a nerve and it becomes all the “reviewer” (yes we are now using quotes for this one), sees and talks about–nothing else exists once you hit this nerve and it makes the reviewer crazy because of their highly personal response to it. A professional reviewer would decline to review, but in some bloggers this is a call to battle and they begin… reams and reams of emotionally charged verbal carnage that doesn’t even make sense, never mind read in a coherent, grammatically correct fashion. Then they solicit their friends to jump in and add their venom to the mix. How seriously is this shit supposed to be taken? Really? I’ve seen it, and it stuns me.

Reviews are supposed to be balanced and thoughtful observations that help potential readers choose books that will suit their tastes and appeal to them. How can ranting insanity help anyone decide more than the reviewer has clearly gone batshit crazy? Goodreads was once a good place to get balanced reviews, now it’s Amazon’s little sister in the poison war… Get your nose out of joint and you can login and start rating an author’s works with one star, without ever reading a word–to pay them back for some real or imagined slight. How valid is that? It has nothing to do with books, and everything to do with petty and malicious bitch trolling.

At the end of the day, the fact remains, over half the people reviewing books have no clue how to do it properly and with any kind of constructive observation to help readers choose whether or not to read the book in question. Many use their reviews as a way to be mean, self-important, and just plain shit-ignorant. If you want balanced and thoughtful reviews to help you decide on a new author or title, your best bet is still to visit wonderful and respected sites like these:

That’s only a few I use and trust, there are many other well-respected sites, so take the time to find them. And all you amateur reviewers, take a moment and think before you put your poison pen to the page… if you can’t be fair, maybe you need to ask yourself why you’re going to trash someone you don’t even know. And while you’re thinking on that, remember if you’re going to crap all over someone for incorrect grammar and spelling, make damn sure you check your own.

Now that I’ve made myself really popular, the floor is open for comments… fire away, but remember–spelling and good grammar counts!! *lol*

Peace and love to all…


  1. I actually like to consider myself a positive voice in a sea of negativity at good reads. I am very proud of all my reviews.
    My blog/ review site Redz World Reviews is starting to be a nice little place for not just reviews but information as well.

    I have been on the other end and have had people call me out for self publishing and imagined slights. Keeps me humble at least.

    I think the only true failure as a writer is not writing and trying again.

    As for reviews, I hope I have made authors happy I am sure I have a few that want to find a hit man for me. For the most part though I am working on being constructive and always improving at both Redz World and twolipsreviews.com

    1. Tina, you've always given fair and thoughtful reviews to everyone. It's easy enough to blast out about what you thing is wrong, not always so easy to keep a balanced viewpoint when you don't like something. Thanks for coming by.

  2. Honestly, I agree with you, I mean, I feel like if i don't like a book, or Movie, or song. or whatever it maybe. If I don't like it why even review. and If you haven't even read the book why put your comments on the page? Honestly I won't even rate a book if i don't like it Because I don't want some one to look at my judgment and turn away from a book they may like because i didn't like it. and i put a bad word out there. that not only ruins the book for people but could even turn readers from Authors and How fair is that to authors who put there hard work into a story to share with the world. and then have people sit there and Bash it. when they don't even know what it's about or because it's not the kind of book they read. (Sorry for any Grammar Mistakes LOL)

    1. Thanks for weighing in on a very tricky subject, Lynn. We're inundated daily with new writers and books, and it's not always easy to be kind to some of the stuff we're confronted with.

  3. Everyone who buys (anything) a book is entitled to voice their opinion whether they are professionals or amateurs. I feel like more are entering the fray because they are just so fed up with poor quality. It may not even be that the book they reviewed was so error-riddled, but they were finally moved at that point after a string of sloppy reads.
    Regular people aren't always coherent about voicing their opinions. Some are trying to mimic the sorts of things respected reviewers say in an effort to be coherent without really knowing the concepts behind the terms.
    Embrace the review. If you moved someone enough to go make a comment, it's an accomplishment even if they didn't like it. What one person didn't like about the book may be exactly what another is looking for.
    There are no rules for reviews unless you're a professional reviewer. Regular readers like it or don't and can only guess why in most cases. At least they try. If their review isn't helpful, other readers can tell, know which reviews to take seriously and which not to.
    IMO, if a person incapable of stringing a coherent sentence together notices grammar issues, that's a pretty strong jar out of the story.
    Just my 2cents. :)

    1. Hey Penny. I agree with a large part of this, my primary bitch is presentation of reviews. I strongly object to the lack of honesty with some of the "reviews" being slapped on books. How can you rate and review what you haven't read? If you're supporting your friend who hated a book - how fair is it to judge and condemn the author or the book? That's why I really object to - everyone's opinion is valid - IF it's their own opinion, and not just some misguided tactic to support a friend.

      As to the last point - hell yes!! I've seen some pretty nightmarish books in recent months especially - it's a huge part of what needs fixing in this industry - quality control!! LOL

    2. Howdy, D!
      People who haven't read a book or used a product shouldn't review it. I agree. But we can't stop them. We can only outnumber them with thoughtful reviews and hope other consumers can tell the difference. Were you ever misjudged by someone who didn't know you? People make judgements and share opinions about stuff they know nothing about all the time. It's human nature. They assume others are bad because of their color, size, fashion choices, a handicap, who they are related to, who they saw them with, or what their neighbor said about them. Not right, not fair, but if humans can do it to other humans, what's to make them think twice about dissing an object?
      If we're in the industry, we realize there are people behind the books, how much heart goes into each one. We know what we're getting because it comes from a certain publisher or is placed under a certain imprint. Firsthand, we get how hard perfection is to attain no matter how many passes are made by how many editors. Most readers don't have a clue about any of that.
      Your example, for example. Quickie doesn't mean sex to everyone. If it's the first one they've encountered, that word isn't going to give them the same heads-up it gives you or regular readers of the line. They many not have even seen it because even a racy cover may not have even gotten more than a passing glance. We can't guarantee readers read the blurb, or that it imparts to them the same essence of story it does to you. A reader could form expectations from the title alone. Like all art, the cover may impress another person a completely different way than it does you, which would account for different expectations. Or they may have grabbed it on a friend's recommendation and skipped right over the other signs.
      Back before I knew so much about what goes into a book, I was highly likely to see an author or cover I liked and start reading. Skip the blurb, the prologue, and jump right in. If it was a departure from the author's usual work, I might be surprised or I might be disappointed. If the cover grabbed my attention and I ended up with a dark read when the cover looked all giggles and sunshine, again, I might be either.
      The most important thing, I think, is that we always encourage honest reviews. Trolls will always be around, and hopefully be recognized as such. When they stop getting attention, they'll wander off. As artists, we can invest the effort to try to read between the lines of those who didn't like something and aren't experts at conveying it. Or simply ignore them and use the clearer ones to help us grow and better meet expectations. If meeting expectations is something we're keen to do.

    3. Exactly - you said it ALL with the statement, encourage honest reviews - I want to know what worked and what didn't so I can grow and learn, and do better with the next book. I believe MOST authors are very open to hearing what they can use to improve, and for the people who take the time to think it through and offer those kinds of insights, eternal gratitude!! Just like I am more grateful than I can say for extraordinary editors who care enough to work with a mess and make it shine. Thank YOU for that, Penny. Always. Hugs, D

  4. My grandmother used to say, "If you can't say anything good, then don't say anything at all." I try to live by that rule when it comes to reviewing a book. If I don't like it, I keep it to myself, because it just might be another reader's cup of tea. Great post!

    1. Thanks, Tabitha. I think if people present sensible and valid points in any kind of review, it's much easier to think of them as worthwhile. Streams of craziness really don't benefit anyone, reader or author.

  5. The only people that shouldn't review are those who haven't read the book/watched the film etc. An opinion is a different way of looking at a set of facts and their opinion is, as far I understand it, as valid as the next one that comes along; whether or not I agree with it.
    Honestly? I avoid books that only have positive reviews. I personally prefer a balanced view of a book, and yes, that also includes those people who feel 'misled' due to whatever reason.

    1. Hi Lisa. Like you, I avoid any book with a stream of perfect reviews. I often look at the reviews with the lowest rating first because that's where you can see if there are valid concerns with points in the book - then I look at some of the higher ratings. As I said, non-readers who use rating systems to spread dislike and nastiness are the reviewers I object to most strongly. In all fairness if you haven't read a book, you have no right to be influencing potential readers from trying it by lying about it. Perspective is everything, and it's as diverse as humanity itself. Thanks for stopping in.

  6. I was shocked that a number a big authors don't read the reviews of their books. So I asked one I trust to be honest and her answer made me question why we bother. Them I thought about it some more and decided she was write. Some reviews are so cruel it's rips at an authors heart, and so they stop reading them. Which in itself is heart breaking, but I don't write reviews for the author I write them the readers and because someone has to keep the light shining.
    Sometimes I think there are "reviewers" out there that go out and buy a book that they know they don't like just so they can write a nasty review about it.

  7. I'm in uncharted waters because I've not had any kind of real reviews. I mean I don't want to put out there that I'm going to throw a spitting Linda Blair fit if someone doesn't like my book or stories but don't just hand me insult after insult and not give me anything constructive. I don't want to be compare to Anne Rice, Kenyon, or Meyers because frankly-I'm my own person. I love all those writers but they are who they are-it is what made them unique and their stories with characters their own. I have my own characters-I don't want to be compared to someone else's. So I guess I'm not sure what I can add to this other than it just out right sucks to have amateur reviewers that shoot an author down because of the size of their publisher, if they're self published, or if they didn't like the book because it didn't appeal to them in the first place. To me, I wouldn't review a book that I hadn't chosen to read that I wanted to or dealt with my own interest.

  8. I always try to give both positives and negatives in any book I review. I will say that I have sometimes been caught by surprise by something about a book or it hasn't met my expectations for one reason or another and that will sometimes affect my review. After all, our reviews are opinions and opinions are sometimes affected by pre-conceived notions. I do always try to present my points in a constructive manner, though. I definitely agree that some people seem to love to rant just for the sake of ranting - it's a shame, but there's not much that can be done about it. Hopefully people who read those reviews take them with a grain of salt.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction


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