REVIEWS: Do you trust them?
This post is long, but I was irritated.
Reviews. We’ve all seen them, and many of us depend on them to help us make purchasing decisions. But… Can we trust them?
Some people give reviews for various products, services, and even books. As consumers, we would like to believe these reviews are honest – not biased in any way. Unfortunately, we cannot depend on that.
For a while, there has been a raging controversy about online book reviews, and it isn’t going away anytime soon. Writing a review for a movie, a coffee maker, or a dry cleaning company would rarely cause problems for the reviewer because there is usually no continued personal or social contact. But, when it comes to the writing world, many of us are connected in one way or another. We writers and bloggers are strangely connected via many social networks such as twitter, Google+, triberr, and many others. (Yes, I intentionally left out the one you’re thinking about. 🙂 ) Yes, social interaction in this field is necessary and can be wonderful and rewarding. But, there is a price.
There have been many claims that some reviewers are intentionally trying to sabotage authors. Why? Because…
- the reviewer doesn’t “like” the author
- the reviewer has a new book as well, and is worried about competition
- the author left a bad review for that reviewer
- the author and the reviewer write within the same genre
- general facebook (or other social network) drama –Sad, but true.
Ugh! The list goes on and on. This problem has grown during an incredible surge in self-published authors and e-books. But, is this problem singularly related to the increase in product and authors? No. Not at all. Dishonest and unscrupulous reviews are a direct result of dishonest and unscrupulous reviewers.
It’s really a shame. If I’m interested in a book, I’d like to be able to trust the reviews. It’s ridiculous that I have to consider the person and the motive regardless of whether the review is a 5-star or a 1-star. Some people out there are just hateful and despicable, and they are doing great harm to the reading (and writing) community. Interestingly enough, that isn’t the only issue.
Honest reviewers are being attacked for being honest, and some of these attacks are down right brutal. What? I can’t say your book sucks if it sucks? And, why not? If you can’t take it, DON’T PUBLISH!!! For the record, these attack campaigns have never been directed at me, and they’d better not be. But, they have been steered towards a couple of my friends. Friends who are honest in their reviews, and do not deserve to be attacked for stating their personal or professional opinions. Isn’t the system supposed to be there to help consumers make informed decisions? That doesn’t mean every review for a specific book will be either kissed with stars or covered in tar. Opinions will vary from A to Z because we are all different. We are individuals. What’s important is that the reviews are not tainted.
On the other side of the coin, we have the very special reviewers that give possibly undeserved 4- and 5-star reviews because…
- they were paid to do it
- they are promoting the author
- they are friends with the author
- the author left a good review for them
- the reviewer was given a free copy, and is uneasy about saying the book wasn’t so great
There is yet another group that is often on the attack: This groups falls into the friend/promoter/supporter/”agent” category. These members support their authors, but sometimes, they do the authors an injustice by verbally bashing reviewers that didn’t leave good ratings. To these people, every negative comment is a conspiracy, and it isn’t possible that a few readers just didn’t like the book. Whaaat?
This group isn’t the norm (uh– sort of not), and most of them don’t mean any harm. They are usually just slightly overzealous. Thankfully, there are many great promoters out there who understand the difference.
But… Let’s not forget the authors who fall into this category as well. Yep, I said it! Constantly on the attack! Bullying, criticizing, flagging, and insulting anyone who has the nerve to dislike their most perfect and engaging work of art. Entitled much? Puh-leeeze! How does your stinky book have so many awesome reviews? Oh, that’s right. You flag honest negative reviews, and pay or sweet-talk your friends into providing good ones. Mmm hmmm. Enough is enough! Grow up and take THE RED PILL! Uh, I meant to say… Can’t we all just get along? Nope. I meant what I said.
Frankly, I’m considering starting a public list starring ALL of these bullies. Don’t bully and “flag” in the shadows. Come out to play!
Yep, there is a lot of you-wash-my-back-and-I’ll-wash-yours going on in the review game, and that leaves me wondering if I can trust any of them, or the motives behind them.
Amazon seems to be the primary dumping ground for many of the unscrupulous reviews. Maybe because it’s popular and so accessible. Goodreads is another favorite choice, but there are others.
What do we have to do to bring honesty back to book reviews? What can we do to stop these people? I don’t know if we can do anything about them– other than talk about them. Ahem– Spread the word, I mean. Knowledge is power, right? If we bust their collective covers and embarrass them enough, maybe they will go away… eventually. Other than that, all we can do is flood the system with truthful and unbiased reviews that detail our personal or professional opinions about the book itself. That doesn’t make our conclusions right or wrong, or good or bad. It is simply our opinions. I hate ketchup, so if I ever reviewed it (I never would- yuck), I would say it stunk and I hated it. What a boring world we would live in if everyone liked or disliked the same things.
If you are an honest reviewer, KEEP REVIEWING! Don’t every let the unwarranted attacks of delusional people stop you from doing what you love! Evil people empower me, so let their plans be thwarted! Do NOT let the negative and hurtful comments of others sway or discourage you. Let their negativity inspire you to continue your work. If your work wasn’t worth doing, they wouldn’t be working so hard to stop you. Besides, we need you.
So, hey… If you’re going to publish a book, toughen up that skin first, and get a reality check. Because, guess what… There will always be someone lurking in the shadows ready to pounce with something negative to say. You may love your work, but that doesn’t mean everyone else will. And, that’s okay. Take the criticism, learn from it, and move on. Remember: Even bad reviews are good. That means someone took the time to ready YOUR story. Appreciate that. And, appreciate your reviewers.
So, what’s the moral of this story? I’d have to say it’s… Don’t believe everything you read.
I’m not the only one who has an opinion about this topic. Lucy Pireel has a thought or two as well. When you’re finished here, go check it out!
Thanks for reading!
This entry was posted on September 7, 2013 by a.n.ita. It was filed under Book Reviews, Reviews and was tagged with Amazon, attacks, author, books, bully, ebook, goodreads, honest, publish, reviews, writing.