Rant Alert! Reviews

Boy oh boy. I’ve been seeing a lot remarks lately about reviews. On loops, in blogs, on websites. Since I’m an author I have a fairly author-centric view of the issue. Here’s a few of my views:

Any review that trashes a book because of the heroine’s name is not a review that should be taken seriously. Such a review is not about the book, it’s about the reviewer showing off her nasty chops. Hey, go for it, show off all you want, but readers and authors, don’t confuse that with a review that has something to do with literary merit or the enjoyability of the read.

A review is not feedback for the author to take to heart for the next time around. A review is a response to a completed work of fiction. By the time the book is in the reviewer’s hands it’s too damn late for feedback. And any reviewer who thinks he’s providing the author a free critique is too self-involved for polite words.

Authors do NOT have complete control over who reviews her book. Publishers send out ARCS without consulting the author. Please, don’t assume that every reviewer got the book from the author.

Not all books are good. Some books are just plain bad. I have myself read books I thought were bad. The same is true of reviews. Not every review is based on a thorough reading of the book. That, my friends, is glaringly obvious. I have read reviews (of my own books and others) in which the characters names are misspelled, and sometimes not misspelled but just plain wrong. Some reviews are based on such a cursory read of the book that the reviewer has failed to grasp (or just didn’t read?) key events in the story. Some reviewers confuse their books and review events that happened in some other book. And, I have also read reviews that have been written by someone lacking any knowledge or awareness of the rules of grammar or punctuation.

Authors are a highly neurotic group. They agonize over everything. And their books go out into a world where some readers are guaranteed not to like their book. And, authors don’t get to rebut reviews. Don’t be all-surprised and annoyed if authors do a little moaning about reviews.

For myself, I try not to read reviews anymore. Good or bad, they upset me and/or distract me from the work in progress. The absolute worst thing any author can do is write to please reviewers. That way lies a really bad book.


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