I love reading. I love a good story. I love it so much that I’ve become quite a snob about certain things. I used to try to do a review on every book I read. But one particular review and the following snubbing that came afterward, has just about made me want to give up on doing it at all.
Several years ago, I read and reviewed a book and was very critical about it. I gave it 3 stars and thought that was generous. Whereas the author, who shall remain nameless, was very gracious about my scathing remarks, that person’s fans were not. I argued with a few of them, trying to get my point across. But it really did more harm than good.
Fast forward a little bit. My book gets published. I’m now on the same playing field as others desperately seeking the gratification of a good review. And I’ve been blessed with quite a few. I try to brush off the bad ones. But that one author has never touched my book. Neither has any of his/her fans, even though I know they’d probably all like it. That author remains cordial to me…but somewhat at a distance. I’ve accepted this opportunity to build a professional friendship as a loss. And I’ve accepted that those fans may never forgive that one scathing review of a struggling author trying to prove himself worthy of being published too.
And so I now refuse to give anyone a review unless I can honestly give them at least four-stars. To some of my closest author friends…FYI, maybe I just haven’t gotten around to finishing your book. And I owe a few of you a review. So don’t go thinking I hated your book.
The thing is, I don’t hate most books at all. I’m just super critical about form and development. I tend to see the things that need to be fixed, rather than the things that were done right. Even in my academic work, I received a C on a book review last year because I tore into the author about a certain subject. I was right and justified to do so. But I was too critical. AND I didn’t cite my argument. Oh well. Lesson learned. I’m working on this critical review problem of mine. It may take a little longer. But I am working on it.
The other day I saw a Facebook wall post to the first mentioned author from a young reviewer who prides him/herself on their reviewing prowess. The reviewer said to the author something like, “My review isn’t on the first page of most-helpful reviews on Amazon. Can you fix that?” I looked at the review. It was a 3-Star scathing review similar to the one I once wrote. It called the book “disappointing.”
Really, Mr. Reviewer? You’re going to write such a damaging review for an author and DARE to ask them to make your review more prominent so it can be seen by more people? To you I say…stop being so inconsiderate to authors, who have worked YEARS to get their books published and make practically no income off of something they love.
I was a jerk reviewer once. If there’s a chance I might come across like that now, then I won’t do the review. It’s not worth it. The shoe’s on the other foot now. I’d rather build relationships with authors than tear down their hard work. Don’t get me wrong…I think we need more honesty in reviews. Honest reviews are hard to find. I’m just not going to be the bad guy anymore. And I’m definitely not going to be a jerk.