Sunday, September 23, 2012

Why do the review?

All right, straight up front I’m warning you that I’m about to have a quick bitchfest here. I know I’ve talked about reviews, and now we’re going to take another foray into the murky waters of reviews. (See, this is why you were warned!)

I’ve noticed a trend recently that makes me wonder many things, mostly it makes me wonder if people have forgotten how to really read? I realize we’re all pressed for time, but if you want to read a book and then offer thoughts on it, wouldn’t it be prudent, and a little more fair to the author, if you actually took the time to do it with honest thought? What brought this on, you wonder? Well, I’ve published two short stories with Ellora’s Cave, and I was sent a couple of recent reviews that made me wonder about this very issue!

So, you buy a book that’s classified a “Quickie” by the publisher. For those of you who miss the obvious connotation to the imprint name, this means you’re purchasing a short story between 7500 and 15,000 words. So, up front you know you’re getting a short, sexy, intense story–a Quickie! So, realistically, why would the bulk of your review complaint be that the story was not long enough? That you wanted more is very flattering to the author’s skill to tell the story, but is it fair to actually denote your review “stars/points” because of the story’s length? Think about that before you exercise your right to influence other people with your statements and thoughts. How fair are you being? You knew going in the story was short, didn’t you?

Then there’s the other “complaint” I’ve seen about my first book–it’s written in first person and I hate first person. Again, you (the reader) knew that going in, the excerpt on the websites illustrate the first person narrative. So, if you don’t like that voice, why did you buy the book and decide to use your dislike of a style to diminish the author’s work? See, for me, as an author, none of this matters much–I’m going to keep writing and you’re going to keep reading and reviewing, maybe not my books, but other people’s. Let’s just say this–try to be more fair in your observations in future, for other readers and for the authors you support. Not everyone writes a “winner” every time out, but most of us work hard at what we do. All we ask is that you give us a fair chance to entertain you.

I’ve already bitched about the way Amazon allows reviews, but a final note to that. Making snide comments on the other reviews, or hitting one star so you can drop the five star rating on a book is showing what an ass YOU are, not how bad the author is, so think about what you’re doing there, too. At the end of the day, people are never going to wholly agree about any artistic endeavour, so why not use some balanced judgement and diplomacy when you’re going to write a review. Rants might entertain your friends, but as a general rule, they do nothing but alienate serious readers.

Happy reading….

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