I won’t even defend the grammatical correctness of that statement in the picture: EVERYBODY has an opinion, most of them WRONG.
WRITERS put their opinions out into the world where anyone can read them.
Readers have opinions, too, and they get to express them in many places, one of which is the very modern REVIEW.
This is the system now, people.
Get used to it.
For all the complaints, the reviewing systems are not going to disappear because they have enfranchised the disenfranchised billions who never had a platform before, and now they do.
Moderators may keep the discussion to civil levels.
Insecure bloggers will delete or alter comments they don’t like from opinionated readers who disagree with them.
But I’m finding that I don’t spend much time reading the word of bloggers who don’t ever bother responding to their interlocutors. Not worth it. It has become a two-way street.
[Sort of. The pitifully awkward communication via mobile may be the ONE thing that destroys the system, because it is much harder to do on those tiny keyboards. But wait for good speech-to-text software and microphones that can pick up the speakers subvocalisations, and we may be back in business.]
Everyone’s a critic.
Today a writer whined about her first 1* review, on an FB group I participate in – after writing a bunch of books! Lucky woman. Most of us get a 1* on the first book!
I could tell you stories. In fact, I will. Below. Because one of those reviewers (not the 1* one this time, but bad enough) got MY goat. [Lovely thing, name of Billy, soft, intelligent, beautiful brown eyes… but I digress.]
Writers are asking for it
Literally. We want reviews. We want feedback. We want to know when our arrow has hit their bullseye.
But we don’t want their bullshite.
We want praise. Glorious and unstinting and erudite and literate (not the same thing) praise.
Because, to be able to write well (assuming that’s what the goal is; with some writers you wonder… but I digress), we have to sit at the keyboard and open all our veins to get enough blood to write with (takes lots of extra blood for all those sidetracks and failed attempts that occur with good writing… but I digress).
And being open is a target for, well, bullies. (Anyone who doesn’t like our prose is… darn it with the digressions today.)
Unconscious bullies. Jealous bullies. Bullies-who-had-a-bad-day.
What to do?
Nothing overt or aimed at readers or argumentative or likely to start a flame war online!
There is enough garbage on the internet already.
And we have the example of very popular writers: pick your favorite, and your favorite book, and go look at the reviews. All of them. ESPECIALLY the negative reviews.
And remember, on AMAZON a 3* review is NEGATIVE/CRITICAL. Don’t believe me? Check those reviews on your favorite book’s page again: the 3*, 2*, and 1* are CRITICAL/NEGATIVE reviews.
On Goodreads, 3* is good, 4* is great, 5* is ‘best book I ever read.’ According to their rubric (I don’t make these things up – what’s the point when you can check so easily?).
On Amazon, 4* and 5* are good, 1*, 2*, and 3* are bad. Just to summarize that neatly for you.
Find a place where it’s safe to vent (your own blog should be such a place, even though it’s pretty public, as long as you don’t identify anyone specific or any specific negative/critical review). Better still, complain only to friends and on closed writers’ groups, but it may not be as satisfying.
Another review is another review. They keep adding up. SOMEONE is reading.
And reader/reviewers write their thoughts and opinions in their reviews; other people may read the reviews and gain more understanding of what they may be choosing to read. This is good, especially with the negative reviews.
But it ALWAYS points out to you that your ad copy, cover, description, back copy, quoted editorial reviews – everything up until the sample/Look Inside – is attracting certain readers. This should make you pause and THINK.
I know I have a lot of thinking to do (I knew that already, but it was far down on the To Do list, and has moved up quite a bit) when I get a negative review from someone who probably should not have read the book. Because it’s really not their kind of book – and I can’t change it to BE their kind of book. The story’s already set in concrete, all the way to the end of the trilogy, even the parts I haven’t written yet. The style, tone, characters, plot – all implacably going to be very similar to what is already published.
If someone states unambiguously they don’t like Mexican food, don’t give them a coupon and invite them to rate your Mexican restaurant. ‘Twill end badly on Yelp.
So our signals are crossed.
I’m glad they tried something obviously out of their regular reading zone. I’m very appreciative of their reviewing – most readers don’t, and it is an effort I appreciate. I’m not particularly pleased they rated the way they did, but I’m very glad they pointed out in their review what they liked and what they didn’t. That’s data for me, not for writing, but for marketing.
Not sure this counts as a rant, but it is an attempt to bang my head on the wall. Without doing too much damage – I’m slow enough already.
As an author, I do not go to my reviews and down rate the reviews I don’t like. It’s better if readers do that.
Now I’m going to take a nap. All this ranting wipes me out. Especially the ‘tread lightly’ part.
A reminder that Quozio and Stencil provide me ways to make images, gratis, and I would get a subscription if I needed more than a few graphics a month. This little bit of advertising – and the things I create with their tools – will have to be my form of payment for now. I AM grateful. The words, of course, are mine.