Sunday, November 27, 2011

And you call yourself a reviewer?

Did I get your attention? Good. Now you might want to make yourself a cuppa and take a seat. It won't be a minute.
First I'd like to say that I don't include all reviewers; it's merely about a trend I observed and don't approve of.

Ready? Okay, then my rant starts now. With self-publishing, a new trend has evolved: self-acclaimed reviewers who will read and 'review' self-published authors' books. Now I'm certainly all for it, it helps to get the word out there and it's also often balm for the author's soul. If done right, that is. Since I'm self-published myself, I went on the hunt for a few so-called reviewers. What I found shocked me. Many state in their policies they won't post reviews for books with less than three stars. wooden spoons, tanks, monkeys -- whatever they use for their ratings. I find that rather peculiar, if I'm honest. Many say they will e-mail the author the exact reasons as to why they won't post a review. My bet is that many of those authors rub their little hands, happy they got away, ignore the reasons and carry on with promotion. What I don't understand is why people still believe a review is for the author. It's not. It's for the potential new reader to see if it's for her or for him. Surely the author benefits from a review; if it's positive they'll stick it on their blog (I do), if it's negative and packed with constructive comments, they hopefully learn and crack on with the correction.
Surely, opinions differ and sometimes people just don't like the book. Happens.

But why the fear of posting something negative? I mean as authors we should edit and polish our books to the point that the story flows with no holes or inconsistencies, the grammar and punctuation is up to a certain standard and the formatting is correct. If a book doesn't reach that standard, I find, readers should be made aware. With pressing the publish-button, an author hands over the book to the public and with it puts it into the limelight which may or may not result in negative feedback. Of course we are delicate souls, but we also ask people to pay money for our humble scribblings and not to forget, ask them for their time. Especially reviewers' time. It's lovely from reviewers not wanting to hurt anyone, but it's also a bit dishonest. As a reader I don't click on a review blog to have recommendations only, I click on a review blog to make up my mind. And I want to know the truth. If I only find positive reviews and recommendations, I don't know if I can take this blog seriously. To me that's not a review blog, it's a blog of a reader who recommends some books. That's an entirely different animal.

If a reviewer doesn't like the character or storyline or maybe the writing as much, fine. I didn't like the bestseller One Day, not one bit of it. Tried twice, then threw it across the room. As long as one can give valuable reasons, there's no point of not telling the world. I'm not asking to tear a book apart, but to post the negative as well. Or change your blog name to reader's picks or something like that. A reviewer is someone who gives an objective opinion of the book he or she's been given. Selecting only the positive, I find, won't earn you credits in the long run.
Authors don't need protection, they know full well what they're doing. Well, mostly.
It's the readers who need protection. Protection of those books that 'reviewers' find too crappy to even post.

Take Big Al, for instance, a great reviewer who knows he does and is not afraid to post negative feedback. As a result he has a queue from here to the moon and back, having to recruit more people who know what they're doing.

And since we're at it, I need to get somthing else off my chest: if you don't know how to review, don't do it at all. I had so-called reviewers spoiling the plot of my book, I had reviewers who anticipated hot and raunchy sex-scenes in my paranormal romantic comedy and I had a few who didn't even have a clue what conflict means in a novel. If you want to call yourself a reviewer, learn how to do it first.
Know the genre, don't spoil the plot and most of all: be honest and constructive.

Now if that's not food for thoughts, I don't know. What I certainly know is that I'll go on quite a few of black lists after this. Time to open the Champagne, right? Just kidding.

Have a nice Sunday.

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