As we approach the release date of The Writer’s Companion, finally, I’ve become quite distracted by the whole review process. We’ll have bad reviews, of that I’m certain. I’m not worried about those. What I worry about is the knucklehead reviews that are sure to touch my irritable bone.
Today, the lovely and talented Kate Quinn blogged about reviewing books, and an excellent blog it was. Later I read a few more articles here and there referring to proper etiquette for readers when reviewing and for authors receiving negative reviews. I think it doesn’t hurt to offer a few pointers for anyone thinking about posting a review.
This isn’t about being a writer or about professionalism. Negative reviews will happen. I don’t care who you are or how mad your skills, you WILL get a negative review. Why?
Let’s say it all together, “Reading is subjective.” This means that you cannot please everyone.
This is a really weird area for me as a writer. I tend to act first and ask questions later when I’m angered, so Kate’s advice is good. I need to learn to bite my tongue or bind my hands so I don’t go over the edge in the heat of anger and indignation.
This is about readers (writers or not) who post reviews. I get really pissed at some of these morons reviewing books and hurting an author’s rating when it’s obvious they either a) didn’t read the book, b) enjoy being nasty, or c) haven’t got a clue. The clueless can be forgiven because they’re obviously lacking in brain capacity and really, what can you do about that? The ones that didn’t’ read the book or just enjoy being nasty; there’s a special place for those people. It’s dark and full of dirt.
If you want to post a review that is helpful to other readers and like to avoid looking like an asshat, you might want to read on. If you’re just a fucknut in general and like to be negative and immature simply because you can, go somewhere else. You aren’t welcome here.
I collected some reviews from Amazon and Goodreads to use as examples. These reviews kind of work against the reviewer. If I see a negative review that tells me nothing about why they hated the book, I’m probably going to buy it. Why? I’ve explained below.
I’ve kept the reviewers anonymous because…well, it’s the kind thing to do. Also, I have not adjusted punctuation or spelling because it was the fun thing to do.
Under the Dome by Stephen King:
“Probably a creative and good story, but there was too much profanity and explicit stuff in the first couple chapters, that I didn’t finish it.”
You didn’t finish it and yet you felt compelled to give it one star and tell potential readers absolutely nothing about why you didn’t finish it? No, no, no, Reader. You cannot do this. Probably a creative and good story? So…um, yeah. That means what? Too much profanity and explicit stuff? Like what? Fuck? Shit? Sex? What?!
I see a review like this and I buy the shit out of that book. Explicit, to me, equals entertaining. By the way, you don’t like explicit, why the hell are you reading Stephen King? Just saying.
Well, thanks for that in depth and thorough review of how crappy this book was. I will certainly take heed and avoid a “BLEH” book. Glad I dodged that bullet by reading this review.
“steven king was a good author…back when he wrote the shinging. king just gave up the crown when he wrote this… he should go to kids stories because this book was a whole lot of nothing.”
I’ve never read the “shinging” and I thought I’d read everything by “king”. And yes, if the author writes about nothing, then he’s definitely a children’s author. Because kids can’t possibly want to read about anything.
I’ll have you know there are some brilliant stories that are written primarily for children. They contain loads of stuff like…plot, characters and…never mind, you wouldn’t like it because you’re obviously over and above a child’s reading level.
When you post a review, good or bad, please, please, PLEASE, at least check your spelling. And also, that little SHIFT key to the right and left of the keypad? It makes CAPITALS. Yay! Those are good. Use them.
“It STINKS – Don’t waste your money. But, if you must have it, wait to buy it at a garage sale or flea market for a quarter. For a quarter its worth it for heat if you burn it. Can’t imagine anyone wanting to read it beyond 100 pages by then you’ll wish you had read a clear concise book by Hemingway. I guess once you make a name for yourself they’ll print any crap. Not surprised it dropped off the best sellers list like a rock. I guess King or whatever his real name is has nothing better to do with his time.”
Wow. “For a quarter its worth it for heat if you burn it.” Awesome sentence right there.
By the way, pretty sure that’s his real name, but I could be wrong.
I’ll wish I’d read Hemingway because he was clear and concise…? Not sure if that’s sarcasm or not because Hemingway (IMO) isn’t exactly light reading. Explain why it stinks, not why you obviously hate the author, and probably did long before reading the book. Did you even read it? Nothing here says you did. Again, I’d buy the book just to see if it causes a serious jonesing for Hemingway.
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer:
“I am only reviewing because I feel obligated to bring the average rating of this book down. Shallow, cliche, poorly written, predictable, not even entertaining in that guilty sort of way. Blah. Why is this the biggest thing since God? I’m ashamed for this book’s editor.
Oh, and did I mention that this book reads exactly like fanfiction written by fifteen year olds? It needs to be said.”
So, you sacrificed your time to tell us this? Thank you! I’m honored. Wow, so glad you brought the rating down. Can’t have it becoming a bestseller…wait.
Look, I don’t like the Twilight books. I don’t get them either. Forget about the writing, the plot and characterization made me cringe and once I even puked in my mouth a little. However, I’m not a 15 year old girl who writes fan fiction, so I am not the target reader apparently.
We have to admit, whether we like it or hate it, Meyer did something right or the damn things wouldn’t be so “big”. A review like this is not constructive. It reeks of self-importance and bitchiness. Readers see a million of these for almost every book written by a big name writer, and I doubt it stops them from buying the book. There’s no criticism here, just someone cloaking a fluff review (designed to intentionally lower the rating of a book by an author they dislike) in arrogance. I’d be tempted to buy a book based on a review like this. Not this particular book, considering I’ve already bought it, but another book perhaps.
“This is a book. A book with many pages.
Perhaps if I read this when I was 13 and a different person I would have enjoyed it.”
This is amusing. Yes. I giggled. But it says nothing. If you’re going to give one star and say nothing about why, then save us both some time and give one of those “rating without comment” reviews.
“havent read it but i think it is a chick flick so not going to bother”
You haven’t read it but you’re giving it one star because you think it’s going to suck. Yeah that makes total sense to me. Honestly, even a shitty author (which I’m not saying Meyer is) deserves a little more than this. Also, punctuation and capitals are your friends.
Sookie Stackhouse (True Blood, if you’re perplexed)
“Did not finish book. Too BORING.”
I’m going to make a new reviewer law: One must finish at least two-thirds of the book to qualify as a legitimate reviewer. And boring? Such a vague word. Boring, why?
Well, thanks. That’s helpful.
“trashy just fyi”
This is not a sentence, just FYI. Trashy? Let me check it out then.
The Great Gatsby:
Okay, this made me laugh, but really, you should explain yourself. Why did you feel the urge to fill a page with all caps?
Holy helpful, Batman.
The DaVinci Code:
“This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.This book is non-stop action.”
No, this reviewer did not review Gatsby. Apparently, this is a popular way to review a book. Also, it’s assholey.
“Professor Langdon and his “salt and peppa” hair can bite me and give me rabies until I froth at the mouth and die of brainfever.
The writing suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucked.”
Again with the many letters, and again I giggled just a little. But this is really a horrible review. All I get from this is that the protagonist has greying hair and the reviewer has a fear or rabies and brainfever…think that should be hyphenated.
The Twilight books made me consider another type of review. If you want to help your favorite author or help promote what you feel is a kickass book. Don’t give a five star review followed by:
“this is a good book”
“OMG!!!!!!! I loved this book so much!!!!! Edward is so perfect. I have fallen in love with books. I have fallen in love with authors. But I have never fallen head over heals for a character! Edward! I love you!”
First: If you can’t spell, no one will take you seriously. Good or bad review.
Second: I know this is going to be shocking and you’ll probably never recover from the horror of reality but, EDWARD IS NOT REAL! And all the exclamation points in the world can’t change that.
Worst review I’ve ever written? I still stand behind it, but I think I may have been a bit…bitchy and unhelpful in my review for Renegade, by Lora Leigh. Yes, I probably committed a few writer-as-reviewer sins in this one. I felt bad, but I tried to explain why I hated it and point out the author’s good points. What did I say? I gave it two stars because…
** spoiler alert ** Okay, this will be a long one because I can’t leave a two star review without explaining. I don’t often bother posting negative reviews and this isn’t entirely negative. The reason I’m posting is I think that once one receives bestseller status, one has to really consider what one is writing. I know several unpublished authors who could write circles around what is written in this novel.
Now, I’ve read this author before and enjoyed the books. This is why I picked this one up. It sounded like I might like it. However, Renegade was just…not good. I’ll explain.
Despite what the back cover blurb says, there were three protagonists in this story not two; Nik, Makayla and Mikayla’s clit. Sorry for those who are offended easily, but them’s the facts, folks. Clit doesn’t bother me. I mean all women (I’m assuming) have one and it serves a great function. I’m quite happy that they exist. Wouldn’t trade clits for anything. Fantastic things, those clits. But, when writing fiction, one must strive for variety in describing things. Repetition creates and echo and echo is bad. Especially when that echo is such a standout word like clit. I bet you see the word clit as often as you see the name Mikayla or Nik or the. Are you tired of me writing clit every sentence? Does it annoy you that I’m obsessed with how often clit is mentioned? Well, this is how each love scene reads. Except the ones where each character masturbates in the shower. Clit only shows in one of those scenes. I won’t go there.
It’s erotica and perhaps the masturbation scenes would float another reader’s boat, but they left me scratching my head. They just seemed unnecessary in this case. Added nothing to the story.
A secondary character was her virginity/innocence which the author made sure to mention constantly. This could have been mentioned perhaps once or twice in the beginning. It’s something the reader would have remembered. I mean how many women reach the ripe old age of twenty-something with that still intact? Not many. So that’s something a reader notices. Reminding the reader at every opportunity gets tiresome.
Where’s the positive that I promised? Well, I like this author’s ‘voice’ and that was the only thing that kept me reading in the end. She’s got a very distinct voice and doesn’t purple things up as is the temptation in some erotic romances. So I appreciate that and I know it’s tough to create romance without the flowery words. It takes skill which the author obviously has but chose not to share with us in Renegade. I guess that’s why I was so disappointed. It’s obvious she’s a skilled writer, but this novel didn’t show any effort.
The ending made me long to punch something. Evil twin out of nowhere? WTF? Come on. Talk about a lazy ending. No real explanation, just a quick couple of pages about the grandfather and separating them at birth for some strange reason. No, the motivation for separating them is not revealed.
So there’s my negative review that I don’t like posting, but you know, sometimes it’s just good to get it out. I would read this author again, only because her previous novels that I’ve read have me hopeful this was just a one-off. An attempt to put something out there that flopped. In my optimism, I’m ordering another book this week. If that goes poorly, then no, I would not buy another book by Lora Leigh.
…by the way, the next book didn’t go well either. I did not review because I did not finish it.
I didn’t rate Twilight because I didn’t finish any of the books. I didn’t rate the Celestine Prophesies either because I didn’t read more than 20 pages. I don’t have the right to bring the rating for these authors down simply because the book didn’t grab me. Had I endured, then yes, I could have rated them and enjoyed my rant on their awfulness, which I’d have punctuated to the best of my ability and avoided references to their poor hygiene or lack of morality.
And another thing:
If you’re a fan of a particular author (listen up, Twi-hards), attacking reviewers that give anything but a glowing account of your favorite author’s book is NOT helping your cause at all. If you choose to ignore my advice, do me a favor and read a book on grammar, or at the very least, buy a dictionary. Okay? Great.
Class is over for today. Go get a cookie.