THE JAMES MASON COMMUNITY BOOK CLUB discussion

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Authors and Their Books > Why are some reviewers so cruel?

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message 1: by Mackenzie (new)

Mackenzie Brown (mackbrown) I'm interested in the views of anyone from the group who is regular reviewer which I assume is most if not all of us.
When I launched my first book I made a fatal error and posted the wrong version. As a result a particularly malicious review was posted and in all probability, from somebody who downloaded the book to their kindle for free.
I've learned from this and moved on, but I wondered if anyone can tell me why such a review is necessary? Why not as I try to do, accentuate the positives and avoid any damaging words? Am I perhaps too fair minded?

I'd be very interested in hearing anyone's views on this topic.


message 2: by Margaret (new)

Margaret Metz | 13 comments I don't think cruelty is necessary at all, but most reviewers genuinely believe it is their duty to their own readers to reveal both the strengths and weaknesses of a novel. I have heard that a lot of readers will skip over and not trust reviews that seem overly positive or negative.


message 3: by Mackenzie (new)

Mackenzie Brown (mackbrown) You make a good point. Personally I tend to mistrust reviews when they're particularly malevolent.


message 4: by Arlena (new)

Arlena Dean (goodreadscomarlenadean) | 10 comments I am a book reviewer and I don't feel it is necessary to be cruel like that in any form or fashion. I believe it can be delivered to a person that it isn't mean. I have read some of these and wondered why would you say something like that I guess they feel if they feel it is their job to do so. So, don't let it stop you in any way. Keep on doing what you do best and that is writing! Best of luck to you!


message 5: by Mackenzie (new)

Mackenzie Brown (mackbrown) Thanks Arlena, good advice indeed. I suppose my post is all about trying to understand why some people need to vent their collective spleens in such a way.
I am very careful about version controlling my work now, but I think we have to accept when we take the brave step of showing our work, there'll always be somebody who doesn't care for it and you what, that is absolutely fine. I merely want those with poison filled pens to think a moment before they publish.

I suppose they need to get it out of their system. We wouldn't want them keeling over out of frustration after all!


message 6: by Nancy (new)

Nancy Jarvis (screalwriter) | 40 comments A fair review is fine. What I wonder about is the reviewer who begins with: I didn't get past page four, (or I didn't read the book yet) but I can tell the the book is awful.


message 7: by KOMET (last edited Mar 15, 2013 11:54AM) (new)

KOMET | 655 comments Sometimes a reviewer takes strong exceptions to what are considered as the literary merits of a novel.

I once reviewed A Soldier of the Great War, which is a book that aspired to be like "War and Peace", but fell far short in terms of its quality. Furthermore, the main character was a pompous and arrogant man who often spoke in absurdities. So, when I wrote the review, I was forthright with my views about the book.

Let me hasten to add that I wrote my review after I had read the book --- all 736 pages --- in full.


message 8: by Kathy (last edited Mar 15, 2013 11:29AM) (new)

Kathy Davie (kathydavie) | 45 comments Mackenzie wrote: "Thanks Arlena, good advice indeed. I suppose my post is all about trying to understand why some people need to vent their collective spleens in such a way.
I am very careful about version controll..."


I've reviewed a few books and, yes, I've been nasty about a few. In my opinion, if an author is comfortable with publishing, they should accept that not everyone will love it. As an editor, I see my job as helping an author to present their story as well as possible. As a reviewer, I see my job as giving the reader the truth as I see it. If I think an author could have done better or they're brilliant, I say it. I provide examples as to why I think one way or another. I do try to provide positives and negatives in the same review. I don't care if the book is self-published or through a traditional route. I care that the story is done well. That it holds my interest. That I like or hate or adore the characters. And I try to include my reasons so other readers can make up their own minds. If the book is loaded with factual, grammatical, or punctuation errors, I'll rip on that.

If an author can't be bothered to work that manuscript to it's best, they should expect to be ripped. You want a good review? Then work for it. Too many authors rush to publish because they are tired and fed up with this story. They want to move on to a new one. Fine. Put the one away for a bit. Get some distance. Then go back to it with a fresh eye. Swap with other writers. Troll for some beta readers who are more interested in a good story than being amazed that their friend wrote a story. Don't rely on family or friends who are more likely to tell you how brilliant you are; they are not detached enough to be honest. And since they have to live with you and don't have the experience, they are unlikely to be able to judge if your story truly is ready.

Sure there are reviewers who cackle with glee over hurting an author. A great many more are simply honest. As an author who has been hurt, consider taking that review apart, determining if, maybe, there aren't some grains of truth in there. Then either take the lessons to heart and do better on your next story or fix it.


message 9: by MissSusie (new)

MissSusie | 153 comments I think you can get your point across without being downright mean and nasty I think most people who review that way are looking for the attention they get for being mean.

I've had books I haven't liked at all but didn't attack the author I just stated what I didn't like about the book.


message 10: by Leigh (new)

Leigh Lane (leighmlane) | 11 comments Honesty is one thing; cruelty is another. Granted, there are many "authors" out there who are nowhere near ready to be published, and with today's easy access to the Indie scene and numerous self-publishing venues, said "authors" can showcase their work to the world whether they're ready or not.

With that said, I feel it is much more appropriate to contact the structurally inept and the grammatically illiterate privately with constructive advice. Lambasting them publicly does nothing but foster humiliation and hard feelings, thrusting undue hardship upon people who, given the time, education, and experience, might actually have something worthwhile to contribute to the literary world. No one is born a literary genius, and even the best of us write a stinker or two before finding their groove.


message 11: by Jane (new)

Jane | 121 comments I was recently asked to review a book. I'm not sure I'm up to the task but I would never publically give the author my opinion. If they asked privately they should be ansered in private. However, I think if they ask publically they should be prepared for anything. But there is no excuse for cruelty.


Rick-Founder JM CM BOOK CLUB  | 7274 comments Mod
Well, first of all..I will only review James Mason member writers..and as I have so much affection for allour Members..I only write positive reviews..easy to do asall the books I have read by members (well over 100) have been superb!!

Now, we come to the question at hand...I agree that honesty is one thing..but I have heard from many of our members about folks out there who simply have a grudge against them and will write horrific reviews (often multiple ones under different names)..this angers me no end!

So, while an honest review is fine..one must be careful to examine the motives of the reviewer.


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