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REVIEWS: Do you trust them?

Please review my novelThis 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

Two people ArguingThere 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.

The Red PillBut… 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!

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25 responses

  1. If.
    If only we authors weren’t so thin of skin.
    If only we realized that a reviewer is mainly just an avid reader with an opinion. and that we can take it or leave it.

    If I’d been asked to review two certain award-winning novels of the last year, I’d have given them two stars at most. Try as I did, I found them immensely boring. As I checked around, I learned that no-one I knew had been able to get through those books, either. Yet the reviewers went on and on about them – as, evidently, did two awards juries.

    For the life of me, I can’t figure out why some reviewers go on and on about certain books. then I remember: I, too, am just an avid reader with an opinion. And my own likes and dislikes.
    And when I grow up, I will have a thick hide. so I can tolerate less than wonderful reviews.
    Thanks for writing on this topic.

    Like

    April 3, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    • So true! I’ve also read books that were reviewed well, and thought, “Ick!” I don’t get it either, but different people will have different opinions. But through it all, some of these authors need to check themselves and not lose their minds when they get a bad review. You can’t please all of the people all of the time. 🙂 Thanks so much for commenting!

      Like

      April 4, 2014 at 5:45 am

  2. Pingback: How To Deal with ‘Bad’ Reviews | Lucy Pireel #asmsg

  3. Anita, a great post and it has to be said and said and then said again. A review is the opinion of the reader, and should always be the honest opinion of that reader whether or not they are asked to read and review the book.
    A dear friend of mine has found herself in a lot of trouble after posting an honest review on a book that just deserved a one star. She was nice/honest enough to give it a two star because it had a great story premise, which was just crappy executed. Hey! The author/his attacking fan should not have tried to kill the messenger because they do not like the message, but take it in stride and learn from it.
    I don’t bother finish reading crap, I bin it and don’t spend the time and effort to write a review on those. I admire the reader/reviewer who does, because we need the balance. If a book has only 4 or 5 stars reviews my ‘something smells fishy’ alert goes off and I don’t trust any of the high reviews on that book. Shoot! Even the big names get ‘bad’ reviews because we just can’t please the whole world and everyone in it. People are different and have different tastes/views. And are entitled to air those without being attacked for it.
    *I’ll get off my soap box now.*
    Thanks for a great post Anita. And those honest reviewers who do take the time to finish a book that really isn’t worth their time? Keep writing those ‘bad’ reviews, because I would like to be able to form a well balanced opinion based on the good and bad points of a book, before buying it,

    Like

    September 8, 2013 at 6:03 am

    • Well said, Lucy! Well said! I don’t always finish bad books either. Sometimes, I just can’t because of horribly bad grammar and other issues. But, I should. Like you said… We need the balance.

      I believe we are speaking of the same friend, and I left a little message in this post for her. But, this post goes out to all of the honest, unbiased reviewers– especially those who are being attacked for giving their honest opinion about a book, not the author or the author’s friends. May they continue to do what they do best… Tell us the truth!

      Thanks so much for commenting!

      Like

      September 8, 2013 at 3:11 pm

  4. AWESOME!

    Like

    September 7, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    • Thanks, sweetie, and you keep doing what you’re doing! If it wasn’t worth it, they wouldn’t be trying so hard to stop you!

      Like

      September 7, 2013 at 5:59 pm

  5. Mandi M. Lynch, author

    Here Here!

    Like

    September 7, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    • Thank you! 🙂

      Like

      September 7, 2013 at 5:43 pm

      • Mandi M. Lynch, author

        You’re welcome.
        My “favorite” argument is when somebody tells me that I clearly didn’t “understand” the book and then proceeds to tell me why – with very vague comments or by comparing the book to another book of a completely different genre/age group/purpose/whatever. No, I totally got the book. It just sucks. You won’t change my mind that much.

        Like

        September 7, 2013 at 8:17 pm

        • Hahahaha! “No, I totally got the book. It just sucks.” That is hilarious, and I completely agree. Thing is… If people need to work that hard to “understand” a book, it needs a re-write. Mandi, you made my day!

          Like

          September 7, 2013 at 9:14 pm

          • Mandi M. Lynch, author

            I had an author *MAIL* me a one page story line/syopsysey thing about her book. If you have to give somebody one page of explanation so that they can understand your novel, you’ve done it wrong.

            Like

            September 7, 2013 at 9:15 pm

          • True dat! OMGoodness. I just don’t understand. I really don’t.

            Like

            September 7, 2013 at 9:18 pm

          • Mandi M. Lynch, author

            It burns. It really does.
            I think actually, it’s an allergy. And the more stupid I’m exposed to, the worse it gets.

            Like

            September 7, 2013 at 9:22 pm

          • LOL!

            My favorite response to, “Are you listening?” No, no, I am listening. It just takes me a minute to process so much stupid all at once.

            Like

            September 7, 2013 at 9:29 pm

          • Mandi M. Lynch, author

            LOL!!!
            I’m with you on that. I really want to make a post at the end of the year with the stupidest comments made during the year, but that would be mean.

            Like

            September 7, 2013 at 9:32 pm

          • Yes, but it would also be funny! Can I co-write? (Yes, I am laughing out loud.)

            Like

            September 7, 2013 at 9:34 pm

          • Mandi M. Lynch, author

            LOL! I’m thinking of doing a Writer 101 group on FB. Clearly I need to bring you in on that. :p

            Like

            September 7, 2013 at 10:35 pm

          • 😀 I would try to be on my best behavior. But, I make no promises. LOL! And right when I’m trying to dig my way out of facebook.

            Like

            September 7, 2013 at 11:09 pm

          • Mandi M. Lynch, author

            HAHAHAHAHA! Facebook has the cold, clammy grip of death. You’ll never escape it.

            Like

            September 7, 2013 at 11:22 pm

          • Hahahaha! Dammit! I will escape! I WILL! Dear Lord– I hate facebook!

            Like

            September 7, 2013 at 11:30 pm

          • Mandi M. Lynch, author

            I don’t mind FB. I hate the people on FB.
            There is a difference.

            Like

            September 8, 2013 at 12:17 am

          • True– there is a difference. But, for me, it’s facebook and it’s unethical practices, which are getting worse. People, I can block. 🙂

            Thanks so much for commenting on this post, and for entertaining me tonight. I look forward to more discussions with you!

            Like

            September 8, 2013 at 1:12 am

          • Mandi M. Lynch, author

            Glad I could be of assistance. 😀

            Like

            September 8, 2013 at 2:04 pm

          • 🙂

            Like

            September 8, 2013 at 3:02 pm

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