Friday, April 20, 2012

R is for Reviews



A to Z Blogging 2012
On Being a Published Writer
Day 18
April 20


Welcome to the 2012 A to Z Blogging Challenge. This year I’m focusing on things I’ve learned, observed and experienced in the nine years I’ve been published. If you’re a reader, I hope to offer an inside glimpse into the writer’s world. If you’re new to writing, I hope I can provide an insight or two. If you’re an established writer, maybe you’ll see similarities to your experience. Whatever path you walk, I welcome you to mine and hope you’ll enjoy the 2012 A to Z Blogging Challenge.

Every review you get is the subjective opinion of ONE person who more than likely got your book for free from your publisher.

I’ve written under a few different names because I write in different genres, and every time I started a new brand, reviewers jumped. You know - fresh meat. I got lots of reviews. But the longer I write under those brands, the fewer reviews I get. Why? I think it’s because I don’t give them enough to find legitimate fodder criticize.

Many review sites are out there for one reason - attention. And they get more attention if they slam an author. It’s more about marketing the review site and its personnel than your book. So what should you do?

Forget about ‘em. Seriously. Let me make a couple of points, in no particular order.

1) Maturity level of the reviewer. An immature reviewer will not understand a mature writer and therefore the maturity of the writer’s characters. Maturity comes from a place they don't know.

2) Writers reviewing writers. Ever hear of jealousy? It’s far too easy for a bad writer to hide behind the persona of a reviewer and take swipes out of jealousy.

3) Reviewers are not necessarily insiders to the publishing industry. Ever read a review where they bash an author over a book cover? Yes, that shows just how little the reviewer knows about how things really work.

4) Some reviewers have romance/relationship rules. Recently there’s been a spate of reviewers using the phrase “insta-love” as if  a) it can’t happen and b) it’s a bad thing. Reference Item 1 and the maturity level of some reviewers. In my world, my partner has yet to go home from our first date twenty years ago. Insta-love? You betcha.

5) Reviewers like attention, and they think tearing a person down is the way to get it. (It certainly is the easiest, isn't it?) Yes, they get attention. If you’re a published author and you talk privately with other authors, you know exactly what kind of attention they get.

6) The Internet is a magnet for unhappy people. Reference Item 5.

7) Some review sites, in effect, sell reviews. Pay for advertising - get a review. So don't forget this basic rule: Money flows TO the author, not FROM the author.

Don’t get me wrong. There are some very good, legitimate review sites out there. The Romance Studio and Literary Nymphs are the two that quickly come to mind. So is Romance Junkies and Coffee Time. There are others, and I apologize to them for not taking the time and space to list them. The four I've named do not encourage any sort of author bashing in a public forum setting, and therein lies the difference.

I’ve been lucky in the review process, but others haven’t. I’ve read some really vicious reviews and it’s been blatantly obvious it was an attack on the author, not a book review. And yet the owner of the review site tolerated it. By the fact it was posted, the owner stamped her/his approval of it. I have to wonder at the purpose behind it, not to mention the character of the people involved.
Kindness is never out of vogue. Politeness is something most people readily respond to. When pointing out the perceived flaws of another, or their work, those two qualities are the proving point to the intentions of the reviewer and the motives for owning a review blog/website. 

When confronted, it’s too easy for a bad reviewer to say, “Oh, I didn’t mean it like that!” My fellow author, you’re not that stupid so don't fall for that line. And don’t for a moment think you must go thank anyone for a review that you know is meant to be damaging to you. That only lets them know you saw their vitriol. Some rules were meant to be broken.

I applaud all the honest reviewers out there. I appreciate all the work they do within the industry and the way they treat the author with respect. I, in turn, respect them. They restore my faith in the goodness of strangers. We need more of them.

KC Kendricks
website at: http://www.kckendricks.com
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2 comments:

Teresa Cypher aka T K CypherBuss said...

Thank you for this dose of reality...and reminder that they are just the opinions of one person at a time. As I look toward releasing my first book, the reviews do give me pause. Not the honest, mature ones. The personal and insulting reviews I have read on Amazon make me cringe.

KC Kendricks said...

You're definitely not alone in the cringe factor. You'd think the way criticism is so freely handed out, there's a bounty paid on it.