I only indie published my debut novel “Gifted” in April 2012, so I’m still pretty much a novice when it comes to the world of reviews, blogging, Goodreads, Twitter and the like.
So far, I’ve been very fortunate to have encountered some really kind, helpful, positive people, both reviewers and fellow authors alike (and my lovely Triberr tribe mates to whom I am perpetually grateful for their re-tweets and comments).
But recently I’ve been really saddened to learn that the world of writing and reviewing has a darker side.
Through reading various comments on Goodreads and posts on reviewers’ blogs, I learnt that there are some members of the writing community that have been throwing their toys out the pram in spectacular fashion, most notably indie authors who don’t like a review that has been written about their work and have subsequently dished out abuse to the reviewer who wrote it on Twitter, Goodreads and the like.
And the bad behaviour doesn’t end there. I’ve also read some woeful tales of authors who have set up dummy accounts on Amazon and Goodreads in order to post fake five star reviews of their own work and to post fake reviews trashing the work of other authors that they see as their competition.
Wow. Seriously? Have these people considered that if they invested more time in honing their writing and less on Machiavellian schemes that they might actually get the good reviews that they crave? And if you have that much free time on your hands – there’s a monster pile of ironing at my house that needs tackling.
But to me the saddest crime – the one that has the most far reaching consequences for us all – has to be reviewer abuse.
As an indie author, without the might of a corporate marketing department behind me, I have learnt that book bloggers are a resource as precious as gold. It is only because of the time that they take to read my work and blog about it that anyone even knows that what I write exists. And they do this, fitting it in to all the rest of the life stuff that we all have to contend with, purely for the love of books. And for that, I for one am eternally grateful.
So when I hear about these precious people on whom all indie authors depend for free marketing getting hung out to dry for daring to have an opinion, some various points spring to mind which perhaps should be considered by the rogue indie authors before they reach for their dictionary of insults:
- You are ASKING the reviewer for their opinion of your work. If you don’t want to know what they think, then don’t ask them to tell you.
- The minute you put your work out there in the public arena, especially for financial gain, you have to accept the fact that there are going to be people out there that are not going to like it. This is life. Even the most popular and best-selling books have people who can’t see what all the fuss is about. It doesn’t necessarily mean that your work is bad, it just means that what you’ve written is not their cup of tea. Vive la Difference. If you don’t think that your skin is thick enough to deal with this, then maybe you should consider a different career path.
- A bad review is not going to be career trashing. But if you behave like a dick because of it, that potentially could be. Having a public tantrum over it is a sure way to get yourself on reviewers’ black lists, no matter how fantastic your subsequent works are.
- Sometimes the negative aspects of a review are the most valuable. Sure, we all love a bit of ego-stroking and hearing how great someone thinks our writing is. But it can be really hard to be detached from your own work and it is often the criticism that we receive that shows us where we need to improve. Thanks to the comments of reviewers, I now know that in my second book, I need to proof read better, give my male character a stronger voice and ramble less. I didn’t get the hump when I read these comments, I was grateful. And when I re-read my own work from that perspective, I saw that they were absolutely right. Because someone took the time to note these points, I won’t perpetuate the same mistakes and my second book will hopefully be better than my first. And surely what we are all aiming for is to be the best that we can be?
- Now, don’t get me wrong. I am extremely passionate about my writing. I wouldn’t sacrifice social life and sleep if I wasn’t. But let’s get a bit of perspective; this is books we’re talking about here. I honestly believe that they make the world a better place, but let’s be honest. They’re not a cure for cancer or a solution to global peace. Are the extremes of reaction that I’ve seen in some instances really proportionate to the subject matter?
Sure, there are times when reviewers can illustrate a bit of bad behaviour of their own. I’ve seen negative reviews which give no constructive reason for why the reader didn’t like the book and are nothing more than a diatribe of “this book sucks, the author sucks,” without giving any comment to support this view. Of course such reviews are unhelpful and frustrating, but you know what the key response word is here? WHATEVER. Rise above it, move on. To retaliate makes you as bad as them. And it is highly unlikely that any potential readers are going to be put off your book by such unsubstantiated rantings anyway.
My final word to those indie authors out there that are happily engaging in blogger abuse and reviewer retaliation is this. STOP BEING SO SELFISH. YOU ARE RUINING THINGS FOR THE REST OF US. I would never dream of dishing out bullshit to someone who extended me the courtesy of reviewing my book, no matter what their opinion of it was. In fact, I would never even respond or comment to any review unless that reviewer specifically contacted me via my blog or e-mail.
But potential reviewers don’t know this. And because of the bad behaviour of a few, there is a very real danger that all indie authors are going to be tarred with the same brush. I’ve had a few instances recently where reviewers that I’ve approached have politely declined to review my work specifically quoting their reason as being bad experiences they’ve had with indie authors in the past that they are understandably not keen to risk repeating and as a result have sanctioned review requests from ALL indie authors.
So, to any tantrum prone indie authors out there – thanks a lot guys. Now you’re bad behaviour is directly affecting ME.
And to all reviewers and bloggers out there reading this, I’d like to say – don’t judge us all by the behaviour of a few. I for one am immensely grateful for the time you spend and the work you do and you will never get any abuse from me, no matter what you think of my book. My days of stamping my feet and screaming when I didn’t get my own way stopped about 30 years ago.
And finally – from me to you – you deserve this:
Happy Reading (and reviewing!)