Monday, August 8, 2011

Why are some reviewers so cruel?

We've all read them, nasty reviews. Whether they were about a book we wrote or not, everyone has read at least one scathing review and cringed. The reason I'm writing about this is because it's been on my mind.

First let me say I don't expect everyone to like everything I write. Of course, that would be wonderful, but nothing is perfect. I've read plenty of books I didn't like. But, even before I was a published author it never occurred to me to write a rude review or reveal the plot in a public forum.

I cannot imagine why someone would behave this way. Most professional reviewers are just that professional. Let me make it clear that these are NOT the folks I'm talking about. I'm talking about someone who decides to half pay attention to the book, then quote it incorrectly, and give away every single plot twist in a "review." There are also those who call the author names. Or use words to describe the story like "stupid." That's just plain rude.

I had this happen to me recently and was caught between shock and horror. I still am. I keep asking, "Why would anyone do this?" Why not just say, "I didn't like the book because the plot didn't work for me, etc." Why be a jerk?

Anyway, I'm still baffled by this behavior. I suppose it falls into the confusing category along with why some people think a 3 star rating is good.

It's not just that I've been insulted. I've been published for 4 years this month and believe me my hide has gotten pretty thick. For some reason this reviewer's rude remarks really got to me.

Everyone who wants to improve their craft does want feedback, but there's a way to offer it: minus name calling and in a professional manner. Otherwise it's just hostile and while the author may read it and have their feelings hurt, that's likely all it will accomplish.

It's hard not to take things like that personally when you put so much time and effort into a story. It makes me wonder if I've done something to the reviewer (unintentionally since I do not speak to people that way) to make them treat me like that. I say me and not my book, because the review in question was so insulting it was personal.

I suppose my point is, if you review books and you come across one you don't like, at least be kind in your remarks and thoughtful of how you say you didn't enjoy the book. Think how you might feel if someone scanned 3 months of your life/work in 3 hours and called it crap.

It's perfectly all right to not like everything. Hell, it's a free country. All I'm saying is, there's no reason to be mean. The author didn't write that book just to piss you off/ruin your day/week, or whatever. I swear.


Kayelle Allen said...

Oh, I am so with you on this. I had a book pull a one star review. I could brush that off and think it did't fit the person and that's that. But this person went on to insult every editor at the publishing house who touched it because it was so bad it should never have been published. It wasn't me who was attacked per se, but the editors. That led me to think there was some kind of beef between the reviewer and them. Perhaps she didn't qualify to edit for them, so these were sour grapes? I have no idea. Am I worried over how it will affect sales? Not a bit. When someone writes a review lambasting a book, others often think that there's no way it could be that bad and go read it.

In this case, the book had scored seven 4-5 star reviews and was an EPIC winner that year. So the single one-star rant was pretty easy to brush off. What sticks with me - as you pointed out - is wondering why someone would go to so much trouble simply to be unkind, when positive feedback (or plain silence, thank you) would have had such a stronger effect.

Chin up my friend. Once you've been drubbed unfairly, you appreciate the good things even more. And I can say from experience that nothing you've written has deserved a bad review. You are good.

Tracey H. Kitts said...

Aww, Kayelle that's so nice of you:)

Thanks for reading my post, and for understanding. And bless you for saying I'm good. (((hugs)))

Barbara Mazzuca said...

Hi Tracey I'm sorry you had a bad experience with a reviewer. As one myself this always bothers me. Having been in this business for over 10 years I have seen reviewers come and go. And the market is flooded today with "reviewers" most of which have no clue what they are doing. Your right not everyone is going to like everything thing they read. That however does not excuse poor judgment or give them the right to bash the author. I tell new reviewers if you cannot give clear reasons why the book failed go back and rewrite this review. I've lost a lot of reviewers. It's the hardest review to write and they don't want to be bothered. Reviewing isn't always fun and I think that is what surprise them the most. It also makes a difference to have good editors on staff that just doesn’t let everything get published just to have the numbers. I'm not concerned how many reviews are published (which is also a huge problem) as to how well they are expressed and written. So if a reviewer has done a poor job maybe someone else needs to do that review instead. It doesn't mean they will like it any better, but maybe they will be more capable of putting a review that outlines why it didn't work for them and why. Without snarly remarks or bashing the authors, so if that means reviews don't get cranked out like a revolving door well that ok. If I could get reviewers that understood that maybe I could get more out faster LOL

Good Luck to you Tracy. And remember there still reviewers, who although at times have to write a less than stellar review we take no joy from it and do not do it with mischievousness intent. And respect authors and the struggles they face. 