It should go without saying.

But, as recent nonsense has shown us, it apparently doesn't. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, save yourself hours of aggravating reading and don't ask!)

So, for the record, speaking as an author: Reader reviews are interesting. Reader reviews are useful. Reader reviews are occasionally truly touching and gratifying, and sometimes quite painful. But, mostly, as an author: reader reviews are none of my damned business.

I appreciate positive reviews and have made several good online friends because of them. Negative reviews can really sting. But that's not the readers' problem, it's mine.

Readers write reviews for themselves, for their friends, for a circle of readers with common interests, for strangers... it's none of my business if you're writing reviews in order to please your pink Martian overlords. The one person the reviews are not for is me.

So, positive or negative, formal or flippant, benign or cruel - your reviews are not a form of bullying. I appreciate the time you've taken to buy (hopefully) and read my book, and however you want to express your thoughts on that book is absolutely up to you.

Like I said, it should go without saying.



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Published on July 19, 2012 14:08 • 978 views
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message 1: by Elizabetta (new)

Elizabetta I find the whole thing overwhelming and sad. Actually, on both sides. If anything, it's made me think twice about how I might compose a negative review more carefully -- though I tend to feel more compelled to post the positive ones :-) It's all about the exchange of information and constructive criticism should be at the fore.

The internet is the latest wild, expanding frontier and GR is feeling the growing pains. Still, how lovely and unprecedented that we have a place where we can discuss books with so many and connect so directly with authors.


Dumbledore11214 Thank you for saying it.


message 3: by Kate (new)

Kate Sherwood Elizabetta wrote: "I find the whole thing overwhelming and sad. Actually, on both sides. If anything, it's made me think twice about how I might compose a negative review more carefully -- though I tend to feel more ..."

But I don't think readers should HAVE to think twice about some reviews. I think readers should be giving their honest impressions, not their watered-down, niced-up versions.

I'm a reader, and there are some books that make me want to punch the author. "The women couldn't possibly have come up with that themselves, could they, Captain Misogyny? They needed your big strong hero to save them!" or "You spent the first ninety percent of the book portraying this character as strong and decisive, and for the the last tenth he's a weenie, just because he has to be for your plot to work?!?" are totally valid! They shouldn't be expressed as "I wish there had been more for the female characters to do" or "I was troubled by some characterization issues." Authors would be incensed if readers suggested that readers dictate the way authors present their ideas, and readers should be equally incensed by authors making similar demands.

And, honestly, if a reader is trying to help me as a writer, then I should probably hear the truth. I should read the emotions that my book created, and try to understand them viscerally, not academically.

I love Goodreads, and I totally agree that these are just growing pains as we all figure out new ways to relate to each other. But I really hope the new ways will be based on honesty, not on a cult of niceness.


message 4: by Kate (new)

Kate Sherwood Dumbledore11214 wrote: "Thank you for saying it."

It's a strange world we're living in...


Dumbledore11214 Kate wrote: "Elizabetta wrote: "I find the whole thing overwhelming and sad. Actually, on both sides. If anything, it's made me think twice about how I might compose a negative review more carefully -- though I..."

And again I have to agree with Kate. Obviously it is none of my business to tell anybody how to write the review, but the whole idea that I have to be nice to the *book* annoys the heck out of me. Do I have to be nice to the car I bought which broke next day? To vacuum cleaner which does not do what it is supposed to do? Yes creators work hard to make the best product possible and I respect it a lot. No the person who created the product is not the same as the product and if the book engaged my emotions on the negative level and I want to scream, shake or slap the characters, I am not being rude to the author. I am never ever rude to the living breathing people in my reviews - but characters in the books are fair game for me, always were, always will be. Thank you again for saying it even though of course it should be obvious. I love talking about the books and I do not want to start self censor in a worry that author who cannot handle critique of her work is watching over my shoulder and may start having a meltdown next second.


message 6: by Elizabetta (new)

Elizabetta Kate wrote: "Elizabetta wrote: "I find the whole thing overwhelming and sad. Actually, on both sides. If anything, it's made me think twice about how I might compose a negative review more carefully -- though I..."

You know, I agree with all you said. But this is truly a new world for me, as a reader, where I can even conceive of having a modicum of influence with an author so directly before... really, think about it... it still boggles my mind. And multiply me times...thousands... Not that this is a bad thing but it's a new concept for me (being relatively new to GR and all :)) -- this instant feedback that GR allows and one only previously given to editors, betas or very close friends of authors -- usually people they know personally I'd guess and with whom there is a level of trust.

What is internet etiquette? My moms taught me 'if you don't have anything nice to say then don't say anything' and I agree with this in general. If a book truly pisses me off then I will speak up (and have done!) but in general I think a certain amount of respect w/in a negative review is best -- this has nothing to do with 'nice-ing' it up. It's just so easy to turn mean on the internet -- without the intimate feedback you'd get face-to-face. I mean this is true with email dialog for pity's sake -- it's so easy to be misunderstood or give offense where none was meant. I agree with free expression but this 'removed' dialog we're all engaging in now in the digital realm has changed the game quite a bit.

So this is why the idea of readers/online friends ganging together to make a point to an author rubs me the wrong way too... not up there with real bullying but bad behavior all the same. I certainly don't agree with the STGR bullying site, but I think taking responsibility for your actions and what you say whilst being honest should still adhere even on the internet. Maybe wishful thinking but, IMHO both sides are in the wrong.


message 7: by Kate (new)

Kate Sherwood Elizabetta wrote: "Kate wrote: "Elizabetta wrote: "I find the whole thing overwhelming and sad. Actually, on both sides. If anything, it's made me think twice about how I might compose a negative review more carefull..."

I think you're absolutely right that people need to take responsibility for their actions. And the internet adds a significant anonymity that might let people forget about that.

We all just need to figure it out, and we need to do it WITHOUT having hissy fits or threatening people!


message 8: by Elizabetta (new)

Elizabetta Yuppers :))


Bark's Book Nonsense Guess what I'm doing after reading this post? I'm becoming your "fan" on GR and buying one of your books, Dark Horse #1. Once I finish my current books I'll give it a read and review it honestly. I've made a decision after reading all of this nonsense and have decided to put my money where my big mouth is and buy new books from authors whom I want to support and who don't engage in a war with their readers.


message 10: by Cherry Darling (new)

Cherry Darling Thank you!


message 11: by Petra Eggs (new)

Petra Eggs Readers write reviews for themselves, for their friends, for a circle of readers with common interests, for strangers...

Exactly.

Authors write for people to buy and read their books. It is a fact so well-known it shouldn't need repetition that we all like different things and quite often tell our friends about what we thought of whatever it was, be it a new hairdresser, a brand of baked beans, a tv programme or a book. But some authors just don't get it. I'm so glad you do and put it into words so succinctly.


message 12: by Kate (new)

Kate Sherwood Barks & Bites wrote: "Guess what I'm doing after reading this post? I'm becoming your "fan" on GR and buying one of your books, Dark Horse #1. Once I finish my current books I'll give it a read and review it honestly. I..."


Thanks! I hope you like it, but, yeah, even if you don't... your review is none of my business!


message 13: by Kate (new)

Kate Sherwood Ms Bubbles SockieP wrote: "Readers write reviews for themselves, for their friends, for a circle of readers with common interests, for strangers...

Exactly.

Authors write for people to buy and read their books. It is a fa..."


I've hated books my friends love, and vice versa, and we've had great conversations about our opinions. I'd really miss it if we all liked the same stuff the same ways.


message 14: by Petra Eggs (new)

Petra Eggs I have a bookshop. I do my best to get to know my customers so I can recommend them books they will love. I wouldn't last very long if I took offence at them liking books I loathe or in genres I don't read. One of the books I can sell easily is Shantaram, I loathed it and wrote a scathing review on GR. So authors needn't worry that if a bookseller doesn't like your book, it won't influence them in selling it at all.

Nor do a few bad reviews. In fact they help it. If I am hand-selling a book and I've read a few really bad reviews I will know the points that some people don't like and who I should avoid trying to sell it to. Authors rarely consider that aspect.

What doesn't help a bookseller, is too many 4/5 star reviews written by fellow authors or people who specialise in reviewing ARCs.


message 15: by Kate (new)

Kate Sherwood Ms Bubbles SockieP wrote: "I have a bookshop. I do my best to get to know my customers so I can recommend them books they will love. I wouldn't last very long if I took offence at them liking books I loathe or in genres I do..."

I used to work in a library, and I did something similar. It was in a high school, so there were lots of books that were too melodramatic for my taste, but I knew the students would eat them up! And I had a couple older students who were really into hard scifi, so I could recommend the books I'd stopped reading because I was too bored by all the world building and wanted to care about the characters...


message 16: by TinaNicole ☠ Le Book Nikita ☠ (last edited Mar 28, 2014 05:58PM) (new)

TinaNicole ☠ Le Book Nikita ☠ Thank you for this, Kate. It seems so obvious but apparently it's not all that obvious to some. ;)

"But I don't think readers should HAVE to think twice about some reviews. I think readers should be giving their honest impressions, not their watered-down, niced-up versions."

This.

I have to say, I get really irritated when people tell me my, and others, reader reviews should contain constructive criticism. My reviews are not written for authors so why do I need to include constructive criticism?

Reader/customer reviews are just expressions of what that reader/customer thinks. And they shouldn't be anything but simply that. Whether it be "This book was stupid. It made my brain hurt. I want my four hours back!" or "This book was Amazeballs!! Best thing I ever read!! Should be a movie!!!"

(should be noted the latter are significantly more common and are lacking anything constructive, yet they're never the subject of debate. strange, isn't it?)

I can't even imagine being subjected to only "nice" reviews. I can tell you right now, I wouldn't trust reviews anymore and I wouldn't be as quick to hit that buy now button I love so much.

If certain reviews aren't helpful to you? Ignore them. That's the beauty of the internet, IMO. A million voices, anonymous or not, and a simple click of the mouse gets rid of whatever you don't like.

Great post. :)


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