If you can handle the dust in here, grab a chair, because I'm about to rant.
About an hour ago, I was perusing my Facebook feed, searching for the post from my local news channel about the prediction of freezing rain. (Don't judge, I'm Southern.We don't DO ice.) I spied a post by a fellow author about reviews. My friend didn't write it, she shared another's blog post. So...I clicked, hoping to find the post I reckon I'm gonna have to write. Because this one was more of the same.
I'll link the blog post here, but I'm also going to post a screen shot of this author's "Wish List" for reviewers. Because...edits, they happen. <grin>
After some preliminary words, she gets right down to it: "Don't knock my work! I'm a new author, go pick on someone who's been doing this a while."
Oh, no. Not again.
Let's take them one by one, shall we? Because I sure as hell don't want anyone thinking this author speaks for me.
1. If you think my work deserves a 3-star review, by all means, write and post it. That's your opinion and you're entitled to it. As a writer, I'm a big fan of a little thing we Americans like to call the First Amendment. If there's a kernel of validity in your remarks, I assure you I will find it and hug it to my heart, because I understand that a calm sea never did a strong sailor make. If I didn't move the Earth for you, let me know. (pun intended) Tell other readers. I lack motivation anyway. (That's not sarcasm, that's a fact, Jack.) Don't 'discuss it with me first'. Unless you want to. Then, I'll be glad to talk about anything you like. Because YOUR OPINIONS MATTER TO ME. I'm grateful that, out of the bajillion titles that went up online this year, you took the time to read mine.
2. If you want to review a book I wrote that you didn't finish, by all means, do it! Again, not sarcasm. Because I will work my ass off to figure out where I lost you, so I NEVER DO THAT AGAIN. I write to be read. I write for the money. Believe me, I know the market's glutted, particularly in contemporary erotic romance. My work has to shine to gather a readership. Every time you quit I get motivated. But I gotta know you quit, so for God's sake, leave that review on a DNF title I wrote. Please. I treasure those, because I'm a professional writer. I have crit partners and beta readers and editors and sometimes, I still come up short. It's not your job to help me improve, but your unvarnished opinion does help me.
3. I guess since the Author (sic) writes, we can overlook the fact that she can't count from one to six, consecutively. Artists. We don't always get teh maths. But I won't stoop to make fun of her. She was clearly..
4. (This is my personal fave, and the one that fired me up enough to blow the dust off my blog.) Did she just say she sits back and makes herself feel better by criticizing the grammar and punctuation and general typing skill of a non-writing professional?
I think she did. I think the remark is petty, for openers. A reviewer doesn't have to turn in the perfect piece to give an opinion. It's a situation not unlike the one former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart found himself in when he had to resort to describing pornography as "I know it when I see it." Many many readers know bad writing when they see it, but (WARNING: Pro Tip Ahead), baby they ain't the one purporting to be a professional writer.
Please, please, never hold back from writing a review of one of my titles because you fear snark or rebuttal from me. It will not be forthcoming. I have never, and will never, ask my fans, friends, or fellow writers to vote down a bad review. I promise to put my big girl panties on and dig for the gem of wisdom you offer when you knock my story. I honor all opinions. If I didn't get you on board this time, you bet your ass, I'll, bring my damn A-game next time...if you let me know I missed the mark.
5. Wanna give my titles 1-stars 'just because you can'? Do it. I have several, and wouldn't dare presume they'll be my last. Take a second to look over those 1-star reviews I linked you to. Please, see that those reviews have not been replied to by me or by anyone I asked to respond, (and I ain't got time for no sock-puppet bullsh*t), or voted down. Because I accept that the forum is for readers. Customers. If I want unconditional love, I'll buy a Golden retriever. I'd rather have your respect and I accept that in order to get that, I need to give it.
I ONLY read one-and-two-star reviews these days. It's funny how those reviews give me confidence that all of the reviews for a title didn't come from a street team or some dude with an ad on Fiverr. Yeah, we're all jaded now. So those dings? Honey, they're what I like to call street creds. You've been bloodied in the pursuit of your craft. Now, shut up the whining and get back on the horse or get out of the way. It's a crowded playing field. I'd rather spend my limited time and money on a book that has well-rounded reviews, those that run the gamut, because, hey, guess what? I'm a reader first, and I'm intelligent to boot, so I'll figure out if they were deserved or not, just by reading them. To suggest I can't..well, let us just say, this isn't the first time I felt insulted by your little wish list.
6. (sigh) I grow weary of repeating myself. Reviews are for the reader by the reader. Anything personally gain from your review to help me in the pursuit of my craft is all gravy, baby. Write on. Don't you dare let one more entitled whiner make you think twice before you leave a review. Whatever you want to address, go for it.
We need more truth in reviews, not less. But I guess I must address the 'trolls'. I believe those who leave retaliatory 1-star reviews say a helluva lot more about themselves than they ever could about my work. If I earned that 1-star, in your mind, feel free to tell others in your review. Your opinion is respected, wanted, and I'll be grateful. No matter how many stars you dazzle it up with.
I would much, much rather hear what I did wrong than lukewarm praise because you think you owe me some certain number of stars, since you recognize that it "takes guts just to write a book." That's crap. You know what it takes to write a book? A gadget that throws letters on a page and a way to upload the result to Amazon.
Where the guts come in is in learning to take criticism, to be a professional in public at all times, to not bully reviewers who review for the pure love of reading and sharing with other readers, and to not act like an entitled little diva because you managed to get from "Once upon a time" to "The End."
Because that ain't all the job requires. It takes poise and the ability to accept that once you put yourself out there as a public figure, you give up the right to whine.
Wanna quit? Do it. I'd rather a hundred of writers who whine about their reviews would quit, than watch one more talented author give up because she couldn't find readers willing to leave her reviews, good, bad, or indifferent BECAUSE OF ALL THE BLOG POSTS AND DRAMA AROUND LESS-THAN-PERFECT REVIEWS ON THE PART OF AUTHORS. Those are the folks my heart hurts for. They might find it hard to keep asking, which is so not the same as "I'm ungrateful and entitled and.... and...I'm new so cut me a break," which is what I got from this piece.
As for book bloggers, you're the sugar in my tea, ladies. Don't think for one second that we're all like this chick. I know you get hammered by requests. If you pick my title to review and you want me to name my next-born after you, just ask. You got it. Write your review any way you like. I'll be grateful.
To the author of the original post, never let anyone tell you your writing doesn't move people. I mean, you moved me to write my first blog post in months. So that's something.