First up: EXILE IS RELEASED! It’s in book stores and available from
wherever you like to order online. And since this is about reviews,
if you read it, I’d love it if you left me one around the
Whew! On to the topic at hand. Reviews.
Disclaimer 1: I don’t write reviews. Amazon won’t let me since I’m an author, after all that sock puppet nonsense, plus I’m too busy writing other stuff.
Disclaimer 2: I hardly ever read reviews for books I want, either. I’ve given it up.
Disclaimer 3: I hate my reactions to reviews.
I like them too much when they’re good. I pretty much lurve my stuff. I want everybody else to lurve it too!
Bad reviews of my stuff messes with my writing mojo. I wish it weren’t so, but writers are mostly neurotic. I’m sure I’m hardly alone in that. I am lucky because I haven’t had a lot of bad reviews; but then I haven’t had a lot of reviews at all yet. But I pretty much lurve my stuff. I want everybody else to lurve it too!
Stellar reviews of other people’s stuff makes me jealous. Oh so green, and not the urpy shade. Here I am in the back row: Like me! Like me! Pleeeease like me!
Hey, that’s my friend you’re talking about. The SF/F community is itsy bitsy. I know a lot of writers. Most of them are really good, hardworking people. Many of them I count among my friends. So I get the same visceral, unhappy reaction when I read a bad review of a friend’s work as I would if someone badmouthed them.
The following peeves have more to do with reviews in general, and really they’re a collection of why I no longer read reviews of others’ work. Downloading free samples is sufficient for me.
Reviews attacking the writer. Like I said before (it bears repeating), there is a person behind every book. I hate when people flip off folks on the internet highway and drive off.
Posting under an alias. When I first started on the internet late last century, anonymous was all the rage. But no longer. Be you. Be proud. Be nice. Even when you don’t like something you don’t have to be a jerk about it.
The vendetta review. There’s just something disturbing about taking the time and trouble to run around to several sites posting the same negative review.
Reviewing books you haven’t finished. This might be considered fair among reviewers, but I think if you’re going to the trouble to talk about a book, you should go to the trouble of reading the whole thing. Not all reviews claim to have not finished the book and sometimes it’s clear the reviewer didn’t.
Mentioning other books by other authors. Stay on topic.
Criticizing authors for things not under their control. Obviously this applies to traditionally published writers. Here’s a list of things the publisher generally controls, not the author:
• Format – including font size, number of pages, chapter and scene break glyphs
• Release dates
• Cost — wholesale is determined by the publisher and distributor, retail is determined by the retailer.
• How long a book remains on shelves is generally up to the retailer, and readers.
Spoilers. Even with an alert, spoilers annoy the hell out of me. I think it’s fine to talk about plot in general terms but leave the details to the people who want to still read the book. I think it comes off as kind of nasty, actually, because it’s like “here, I’ll tell you the whole story so you don’t have to buy it!”
Attacking politics, religion, or character based on what you read in a novel. It’s fiction, people. You can’t judge what a writer likes according to their fiction, and it’s not fair to judge a plot point in a novel based on your own prejudices or dislikes. At least, people should know when personal prejudice/likes/dislikes are affecting their judgment of books.
Disliking or Liking something to ride the coattails of the work or writer. There are plenty of hipster reviewers out there: the folks who hate what everyone else loves. Ditto sycophants, especially with famous writers.
Clicking stars without stating your case in so many words. I admit, I’ve been guilty of this in the past. But I’ve quit since I realize that this really is of no help to readers who do like to read reviews.
Any others I should have included? Like I said, reviews aren’t really my forte. But like them or not, they are a part of the literary landscape and have been for a long time. Other readers and writers rely on them, too, so it’s important to be thoughtful about them.