Saturday, July 21, 2012

38 To review, or not to review . . .

To review, or not to review. That is the question. This past week has been terrible for relations between authors and reviewers. A lot of damage has been done, and people have stepped way over the line. A review blog, such as this one, is a platform for readers to express their opinions about the books they read. Some people only review books that they love, some people review books with a snarky tongue, and some find a happy medium in-between. Yes, I know there are internet trolls out there that go out of their way to make life miserable for other people. They go onto Amazon, Goodreads, and whatever social media outlet they can find to do nothing but spread hate and discontent. I don't know why these people feel the need to do so. Maybe their mother never hugged them as children.  Maybe they have a low self-esteem. Maybe they're just assholes. I don't know. However, the majority of the review blogs out there, review books for none other than the love of reading. Sometimes we love the books we read, other times not so much.
If you're not familiar with Goodreads, it's a social media site for book lovers. I'm a member. I particularly like it because I can keep track of my books, see what my friends are reading, and also keep track of upcoming titles. Lately Goodreads has become a war zone. Some readers have left reviews on books that they don't like in the way they saw fit. This angered some people, authors I think. So in turn if a reviewer leaves a bad review on a book, they are equating it to being a bully. You read that right, bad review = bully. A site has been created, black listing has been done, names have been called,  pitch forks and torches have been grabbed. Basically these people are crying out "The only opinion you can have, is the one I give you" Basically denying freedom of speech. They've crossed lines and potentially endangered the 'called out' reviewers. Others authors have joined this 'Goodreads crusade' for taking down these unruly reviewers.

As a reader, this saddens me. It kills the joy of reading. It evokes fear of stating my opinion of the books I read. We live in a country where our forefathers fought to give us the right to express ourselves; to be able to say 'I don't like this' and not to be persecuted. I've seen posts this week that have been threatening to harm other people. Names such as 'bitch, slut, and cunt' have been freely used to refer to people that have opposing opinions. Racial slurs have been thrown around. I think it's great when people are passionate about something, but seriously? It would be great if people could have a rational discussion without resulting in name calling. How grade school is that? I think that might be insulting to even grade school. And why are people acting this way? Over a book. A book! I know authors put a lot of time, blood, sweat, and tears into their work. Criticism is hard to take no matter who you are. Don't go seeking out these reviews if it bothers you. Walk away. Don't follow people on twitter, facebook, or goodreads that offend you. The internet can be a wealth of knowledge, but it can also be very hurtful. Kids today are taught 'think before you hit send' and 'if you wouldn't say it to someone's face, don't post it online'. I think some adults need to learn this lesson as well. 

As a reviewer, I am shaking my head. This reflects badly on the industry. Self-pub and Indie authors have taken a lot of heat for this. Many blogs won't even consider reviewing these types of books. And now, I fear, even less will be open to the idea. I have worked with indie/self-pub authors and read many indie/self-pub books that are fabulous. In that time, I've only have had one bad experience, but I did not let that deter me  from working with these authors. However this week I seriously gave it some thought. I decided that I will continue working with these authors because in truth, the ones I've worked with have been fantastic, and I'm not going to be intimidated. I strongly urge the reviewers who are on the fence with this issue to give indie/self-pub authors a chance. If needed, shoot me an email and I will give you a list a authors who have been great to work with. (See, I can make lists too.)
This blog is MY platform to talk about the books I love. Goodreads, Amazon, and any other social media outlet I use has also given me a little space to express my thoughts. As long as I don't violate their terms of service I am free to state my own opinions, good or bad. I am under no obligation to anyone other than myself. I use this website as a platform to help promote authors at my discretion. I have the right to choose what gets posted and what doesn't.  The same goes for all the blogs out there. We don't get paid for this. It is done for the love of reading. We do this in our 'spare' time even though it's like having a part-time job. I take what I do seriously, as do most of the bloggers out there.

So if this posts gets me put on a 'list' because I won't conform or bow down to the pressure to post only positive reviews, then so be it. In fact, please do put me on that list because I would not want to work with someone like that. There are so many other books and authors that deserve the spotlight instead.




38 comments:

  1. As a fellow book blogger, I high five you for this post. Well said. xoxo - Misty www.kindleobsessed.com

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  2. As an independent author/self-publisher I high five you for this post. Some of the very best reviews I've had have not been 5 or even 4-star reviews. I (like the great majority of serious self-publishing authors) am always delighted and grateful when a book blogger takes the time to read one of my books - and then more time to think about it, write about it, and put it out there.

    Thank you for not closing your door/mind/blog to us. And I think it's a great idea to keep a list of insane vs non-insane authors.

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    1. I really think more people should give self-pub/indie authors a chance. It's harder for them to get their books out in the public eye. Things like this don't help at all. I do actually keep a list of 'insane' authors. LOL It's for my own personal use, and I would never publish it in any way. The list of 'sane' authors is a MUCH bigger list. They're the ones that deserve the attention.

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  3. Wow, clearly I've missed all this madness on Goodreads. I'm glad. One of the things I dislike most in life is rude/mean people.

    Thanks for not giving up on us indie/self-pubbed folks. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say *most* of us are normal. (At least I hope so.)

    I'm still waiting for the first review that hurts my wee little feelings. I just hope it will be constructive criticism and not a lot of rude name calling. (A friend of mine is self-pubbed. He has over 100 very positive reviews on his book. Someone posted a 1-star review the other day not only blasting his book, but him, *and* all the other reviewers. Really uncalled for.)

    The interwebs can be an ugly place. Thanks for trying to keep it sane.

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    1. Jackie, I agree with you. A review should not be a personal attack on the author at all, but on the book. I consider people who do that to be internet trolls anyway. They're the haters I was referring to in the post. It's unfortunate this happens. I have worked with some fantastic Indie/Self-pub authors and they are completely normal.

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  4. I know about all the madness that Goodreads has offered up the past couple weeks. It was a crazy ride. I also am scared for Indie authors. I saw someone on twitter say they will be more picky of what they read from Indie authors. 99.9% of what I read is Indie. I have found Indie authors to be wonderful and considerate when I can't finish a book the sent me for review. Even had an author offer a different book of theirs...and I ended up loving it.

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    1. I've seen tweets like that too. It is scary. I've had mostly great experiences with Indie/Self-Pub. Once I accidentally scheduled a post for the wrong date. The author sent me an email politely asking about it. Once I realized my mistake, I fixed it. He could have called me out, but he didn't. He was very nice and understanding. I'm so glad this hasn't tainted your view. :D

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  5. and I meant to add that this is a great post!!

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  6. I love book blogger/reviewers! And I know as an author when I ask a book blogger for a review that it could go either way--that's the beauty of varied opinions. I'm always so grateful for the reviews I've been given. Most book blogger/reviewers put a lot of time and thought into their review, and when they point out something they didn't particularly agree with or care about, it gives me food for thought. It helps me with my future writing.

    Authors who call names and blacklist--that's insane. Bad form. I don't get it at all. Not everyone is going to love what you write. That comes as part of the writing biz, and as scary as that can be, as an author, we have to accept it.

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    1. Great comment Angela! I agree with you. I like varied opinions as well. We all come from different places, have different backgrounds, so our reading experiences will vary. I think it says a lot about you that you'll take criticism and use it in a positive way. :D

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  7. I too think this was very well said and I completely agree with you.

    I also think as a book reviewer that you can do a negative review without being hurtful or hateful. I always express my honest opinions about books but I never bash a book, I don't see the point in that.

    I think I must have missed all the hoopla because I haven't seen anything but hearing about it makes me sad. I too spend a lot of time on my blog and on the reviews I write, not to mention the time it takes to read the books.
    I don't get paid either but I do it because of my passion for books and because with indie authors, I want to do my part to help them out. To help get the word out about their work.

    Honestly, I would like to know the names of the authors that are behaving badly because it saddens me and I would definitely think twice about wanting to read and review one of their books.

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    1. I don't agree with book basing either. I think it's unnecessary. Some people write snarky reviews, it's their 'thing' and I'm fine with that. I think it's good that you missed all the drama. It seems lately, every time I get on the internet things are in an uproar. It's really crazy and it's doing a lot of damage.

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    2. Kindlemom, I sent you an email.

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  8. I have to agree with everything you said. There's no book that's going to get 100% positive reviews, and of course some reviews may be hurtful, but it's always better to ignore any hate than respond to it. Authors may not like a certain review of their book, but responding to it or sending hate to the reviewer doesn't accomplish anything. I've reviewed books for self-published authors before, and once I read a book that I really didn't enjoy all that much. I remember being scared to write a review because I knew the author would see it, and she'd been very polite and kind to me. I didn't think the book was horrible, but I didn't enjoy it much. I didn't want to offend her or anything with my review. Luckily, she understood. I wrote an honest review where I talked about the good points of the book, but I was honest that I hadn't completely enjoyed it. The author was very polite about it and seemed to completely understand. I just wish all reviewers and authors could communicate like that and understand where the other one's coming from.

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    1. I wish the lines of communications would open up too. It would be great if discussions could be had without resulting in threats. I think it's great that the author was polite about it. For me, it's hard to write a review for a book I don't particularly care for.

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  9. If anything, all this drama has done is inspired me to continue being honest. If an author wants to slander me for honestly critiquing their book, I say BRING IT. Because at the end of the day, I'm proud of my accomplishments and what I've done for myself and others. And that is all that really matters.

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    1. *high-five* It is all the really matters.

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  10. Hey Marcie! Thanks for the great post. It does feel like the book blogging world has gone crazy! Thanks for reminding me why I have a blog-bottom line is that I love to read, review and read reviews.

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    1. Thanks Tammy. Great bottom-line by the way :D

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  11. I'm standing there right along with you - I refuse to stop reading & reviewing indie authors because of a few idiots.

    We all have the right to express our opinions - whether seriously or sarcastically, in our own space. And if people don't like it, don't read it - it's that damn simple!

    Great post Marcie!

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    1. Exactly Kat! Not every author/reader is going to agree with every review. I think it would be better if they could just walk away. Although I don't mind discussions if someone has a different opinion, I think it can be done w/o threats.

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  12. Thanks for the insightful thoughts. I, too, missed the war on goodreads -- don't have any free time to do anything more than check in once a week there -- glad to have missed it. But I'm well aware of the unkind folks out there.

    Indie authors like myself need readers/reviewers like you! Keep up the objective work!

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    1. Thank you Jennifer. You're definitely an author that I would recommend to anyone. You are a great example.

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  13. Great post Marcie! I have been way out of the loop the past few weeks so I really didn't hear anything about what was going on and now I am kind of glad I missed it.

    I will also keep running my blog the way I want to run it and voice my opinions..good or bad..I totally support all Indie/Self Pub authors!

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    1. Hi Kelsey,
      It's probably for the best that you didn't hear anything. It got really crazy for a bit. I'm so glad you support Indie/Self-Pub authors. This whole mess has turned away several people from even considering it now.

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  14. I just found out about the drama. Well, kinda. Still not sure what's going going on. But I agree that we can't judge ALL Indie's but the actions of some. However, I'm thinking I will be sure to clarify EVERYTHING before I accept books for review. Make sure they are okay with a negative teview, okay if I can't finish it, etc. I usually buy my Indie books anyway, that way I don't have to worry about it. However, the whole goodreads thing with negative reviews is scary. I don't have many negative reviews and I'm cautious that I say things kindly, but its not fair that we have to stress it SO much.
    Fantastic post! And it made me feel better, I needed to be reminded that we aren't all a bunch of haters. We just want to share our love of books.

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    1. Exactly Candace. I learned that lesson last year. I have it written on my review policy now, and I make sure that any author wanting a review has read it before I accept anything. I don't write many negative reviews either. I generally choose books that I think that I will like anyway. I don't go after books that I have no interest in just for the sake of writing a bad review. I have better things to do with my time. :P Thanks for the comment and I'm so glad that you're not giving up on Indies.

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  15. I didn't know all this stuff was happening.

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    1. LOL I wish I didn't hear about it either. It's just a mess.

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  16. This is a wonderful post and I think it's great that you are voicing your opinions about this! I don't know all the details, but I know enough to know that these people are being incredibly juvinile. We are all so lucky to have this amazing community where we can talk about books, and it's sad that a handful of people have to try to ruin it:(

    I have yet to write a negative review, but that's only because I almost never finish books I dislike. If for some reason I had to finish a book that wasn't for me, I wouldn't hesitate to nicely and professionally express my thoughts, and I applaud bloggers that do so. And if I was an author, I would still appreciate thoughts from people who didn't like my book; if I couldn't take criticism, I would never get better!

    I'm in this because I love reading and discussing what I read. That is what blogging should be about.

    People are crazy.

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  17. Thank you. I agree; people are crazy. I love being part of a community that can talk about books. I think it's one of the best things about blogging.

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  18. High-Five, Marcie! Great Post! I agree with you one-hundred percent. I am an indie author/self-pub author and even though I don't know all the details, I do know this, that type of behavior is hurting all self-pubbed authors everywhere.
    When one indie author behaves badly, the industry looks at it as all of us behaving badly. There are still some people, traditionally published authors, publisher, readers, who are biased against indie authors and looking for examples like this to point and say, "See, they are professional. They are author wannabees. They aren't even professional enough to be able to handle a bad review."
    I have been lucky in that I have received overall great reviews, but I have also received a couple of snarkie reviews for my first book. I was bummed for a whole week until my husband told me to look up that reviewer's other reviews. She had written one other review, a five-star, for a rap CD along the lines of Kill All the People. If course she would hate a cozy mystery about a functional family.
    Point of story that all authors need to realize: Not everyone is going to love your book. I can't even get EVERYONE at my dinner table in my family of 3 to love one stinking meal that I have put my heart and soul into preparing!
    Thank you so much for sticking with us, Marcie! I'm giving you a two-thumbs up!

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  19. Thanks Lauren. This kind of bad behavior isn't just with Indie authors. I've seen traditionally published authors acting out as well, so it's not just limited to the 'indie' scene. Also you make a good point. Authors should do a little research when it comes to reviews. Check out the blog that you want your book reviewed on. If the reviewer writes snarky reviews in general, then it should not come as a shock if the review is snarky. Authors should make sure the blog is a good fit for their book.

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    1. Not only should the author check out the type of review the reviewer writes, but they should also check out the books the author likes. Example, I know an award winning YA author who writes sweet books. The one bad review he received was from a YA reviewer. Being his first bad review, he was stunned and disheartened. I looked at the reviewer's blog. Yes, she is a YA reviewer, but she LOVES paranormal. Now, if there had been a vampire in this YA author's book, she would have responded differently. It's not the reviewer's fault for the bad review. That book never should have been sent to her.

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    2. Exactly. Most readers/reviewers have a preferred genre(s). Getting the right book into the right hands is important.

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  20. AMEN TO YOU. I am saddened by how trivial everyone is acting lately. I did not become a part of this community to get transported back to middle school.

    Thanks for your honest and sane thoughts.

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