Monday, September 10, 2012

Authors Behaving Badly: Reviews

Okay, so I've talked a bit before about how I feel about reviews. Short version: Authors, don't go there. Reviews are for readers, not for you. Put your hands over your ears and go la la la, but never respond to reviews. 

But you know one thing I didn't mention? Because I really thought it was so obvious that it didn't need mentioning:


"You Lie" by Banksy

Don't be like a certain British crime writer who posted reviews under false names on Amazon. You know what, even if he thinks he's written "a modern masterpiece" that "will touch your soul", it's not for him to say. And he knew that, or he wouldn't have used a pseudonym. That goes to show intent, your honour. 

But don't mistake this guy for a one trick pony. Because not only did he give himself fake awesome reviews, he also gave low star reviews to the work written by rival authors.

Rivals? Shit, I thought we were all on the same side. 


Which brings me to another thing about reviews. Professional courtesy. 

I was worried about going on to Goodreads as an author, because I didn't like the idea of reviewing other authors' works. I don't want to lie, but sometimes I don't want to say exactly what I think either, right? Because your work might be a pile of steaming howler monkey crap -- and you might think mine is as well -- but we both know how hard we worked. 

After speaking to a few other authors, I've adopted the following strategy: I will only rate three, four or five stars reads. If it got under that, you won't even know I read it. Nothing goes onto my "Currently Reading" list that I haven't already finished. 

I might not like your book, but I'm not going to bag the shit out of it in public. Not under any name. If I like it, I'll rave about it. If I hate it, I'll shut my mouth. 

As a reader I might not feel so constrained, but that's where I've decided to draw the line as an author. 

My last point on reviews: Guys, YOU NEVER PAY FOR REVIEWS. 

A paid review is ultimately as worthless as a faked review, expect now you also have no money. Reviews, good and bad, will happen organically. And you have to step back and let it happen. 

Fake reviews are worse than bad reviews. And do you know why? 

Back to the British crime writer: did his book touch my soul? Don't know. I'm never going to read it now. He doesn't deserve my money. 

That's why.


  1. ...I wouldn't want my soul to be touched, thanks all the same O_o

    And really, bad reviews of other people's books? That is bad sportsmanship.

    1. Yep, please observe personal boundaries at all times...

      I really can't decide what's worse: fake glowing reviews of your own stuff, or fake crap reviews of someone else's work. It's pretty bad, anyway. And it's not like this guy was struggling for sales either. Just crazy.

  2. Yeah, that's why I don't do reviews on Goodreads either. I do pass out stars, but I've learned even giving three stars to someone you know is a risk. Apparently that's considered "bad." Who knew? It's gotten a little political between authors -- you know, I'll give you five stars if you give me five stars and we'll both giggle about how fabulously perfect we are. Blah. It's to the point I really don't pay a lot of attention to reviews unless there are hundreds of them and they aren't all glowing.

    1. That's annoying. It's ridiculous that you can't give another author's book an "OK" rating without it being seen as bad. Authors really, really need to step back and realise that it is an opinion of your work, not an opinion of you as a person.

      Gotta get the skin toughened up if you want to play out in the real world, kids! You will get great reviews, and you will get crap reviews. It's not the end of the world.

  3. I cringe at doing the reviews too on Goodreads but luckily I haven't read one over the last year or so that was a total hot mess.

    If I did, I wouldn't mention it. I would just delete it from my list. Maybe it's not ideal but it's the only way I can live with myself.

    1. That's exactly my theory... Not ideal, but saves me from having to slam someone's writing in a public forum. Because I do think that we're all on the same side still.

      One thing that makes me angry with giving your "rivals" bad reviews... readers don't just read one book. Kneecapping another author doesn't mean you're making a sake for yourself. Really, there are enough readers to go around.

  4. One good thing about reading Twain, Conrad, and Stevenson is you know they didn't write any of their online reviews.

    1. No. I will never accept there is anything good about reading Conrad. Twain and Stevenson, sure, but Conrad?

      You know that one book that is ruined by being studied? That has all the life sucked out of it by relentless lectures and tutorials and essays? That's Heart of Darkness for me.

    2. Same here. Try "The Secret Sharer" or "Youth," an autobiographical tale of a journey gone wrong. No one's messed those up with how you're supposed to read them.

  5. Gosh,

    I wish you'd tell me *exactly* how you feel :)

    (PS... you know I'm now going to ask you (hee! hee!) to review my book...

    (ohh... need to finish WIP first :)~

    1. I know Mark, people always complain I don't tell them what I'm thinking... I really have to work on that.




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