There have been a few different incidents that I've come across lately that bring reviews to mind. The first is my own continual struggle as to how best to go about garnering reviews. I have a personal feeling that asking someone for a review is putting pressure on the reviewer. I know there are many, many bloggers and reviewers alike that are professional and requesting that they take the time to review my book wouldn't seem inappropriate.
Perhaps I am naive in thinking that I want someone to read my book and simply give it a review because they enjoyed it or hated it. In the huge market of indie books, I know that a great many readers don't want to waste time on a book they don't know is even well written, let alone a story that they will enjoy. So reviews of any kind can get someone to give your book a chance or pass it up for one that has reviews.
My book has only been out since the end of October 2011, and so far it has four unsolicited reviews on Amazon.com. I am proud that while not raving, the criticisms are mostly personal preferences by each reader and not a lot of complaints about bad spelling, terrible grammar or a complete failure to develop a story. Those were my nightmare review points that continue to haunt me. I know eventually, I will run into someone that will rip into my work. Even the authors we all consider successful find someone that dislikes what they write. I am preparing for that ugly review by continually reminding myself that you can't please everyone, and remembering that while not all in review form, I have gotten compliments on the book from readers.
This leads me to the second incident that brings reviews to mind. I was on Twitter and stumbled into the middle of an author rant-book reviewer drama. Some of you might know of the incident, but since I never did quite get the entire story, I am not going to mention anything specific. Instead, I wanted to talk about the overall incident as an author.
I know I have a quick temper and when someone says or does something to me, my first reaction is to fight back. Apparently, the author in question felt that the book blogger's review of their book was more of a personal attack rather than a critique of the work. I know there are many "reviewers" that often give out poor reviews for little or no reason. I can understand the author feeling angry enough to want to respond.
Unless requested, I think it is bad form to respond to any review, especially a negative one. No matter what the reviewer might have written, I think as an author we come off looking bad in any of these exchanges. Instead, I think we all have to trust that readers will see the review for what it is. I know myself, a bad review that I felt was unwarranted often prompted me to read the book rather than turn me away.
I found a link and read the review that apparently sparked the drama. I didn't think the blogger said anything personal about the author. The blogger simply didn't find the book to her liking for several reasons and listed those reasons. Could any author really ask for more? At least it wasn't a bad rating with a simple, "This book sucks" comment.
In these days of social media, where it is so easy to take to the internet and vent our anger, I think as authors, we really need to take a step back. Before we ever sit down to criticize someone for their opinion, we need to think how it will look to other readers. Most bloggers are simply readers that share their views on what they read. I don't know if this is someone who asks for a free copy to review a book. By creating a rant in Twitter, Facebook or even our own blog, we run the risk of alienating other readers and other bloggers.
We should also remember that what we rant online in anger, stays out there forever. We can't take it back once we've hit send, publish or post. As we'd hope that reviewers take an open minded approach to our books, can we not give the reviewers and bloggers the same benefit?