There's reasons I don't participate in the review swaps that are often posted here.
1. It's against Amazon's review policy for an author to review in their same genre(s). That pretty much cuts out any paranormal/urban fantasy/Western/scifi/romance/erotica for me - so far. Who knows what other genres I might attempt in the future.
2. My second reason falls in with Hitch's post: I browse books on Amazon several times a week. If I did buy a lot of indie books and review them, there would be a large number of unhappy indie authors, because I would mention things like overusing dialogue tags, misspellings, bad grammar/punctuation, giant plot holes, that it obviously wasn't edited, and so on - all of which are the reason I pay editors for my own work.
I just looked at one title on Amazon, a paranormal YA.
Every time someone spoke, there was dialogue tag.
Sentences were worded strangely so that it was difficult to understand what they were supposed to mean.
I couldn't even make it through the sample because of those problems - they affected the readability that much.
If I'd bought it, and reviewed it, I would've given it a 2-star review and suggested the author revise and have it edited.
I wouldn't mention those things out of spite, jealousy, or whatever. I'd mention them because I'm a reader, and that sort of stuff bugs the absolute stuffing out of me.
I'd mention them because as a writer, I notice them even more now after working with editors to correct such issues in my own writing.
If I did leave such a review on a title, I'd be accused of anything from 'being mean' to 'trying to run down the competition'.
Of course, I wouldn't buy it since I do check samples and pass on books with such problems. Nor do I typically read YA.
find the thread in this forum about Furio. He snags all the free books in the gay section and slates them. I was 'got' by him months ago. On his profile page he admits he's a frustrated author in that genre. People actually know him and look out for his reviews now - but no-one takes them seriously, because they know he's going to be vicious.
Right? I was hoping that "shelsant" would pick-up on that, but no comment. The reviewer seems really angry that my "Memoirs" book was all about me. The irony is that it really is not and I even include an entire chapter on other cases, but of course it is from my perspective - which is something that I explain in the preface. An exact quote from the preface:
[i]That being said, the viewpoints presented are those of the writer, the escort service owner, the defendant, and finally, the person at the receiving end and target of an agency that needed to continuously justify its existence and prove its worth in a community under siege by violent crime. This memoir is my memory of the events that have occurred. I have little doubt that a memoir written by someone on the other side, such as prosecutors or agents, would offer a different story, one that omits or places minimal importance on the events recounted herein. Providing that an account written by the opposition could not be contradicted with court documents or witnesses, it is indeed welcomed with an open mind. However, if it is provable that it is an account of lies it would be exposed as such expeditiously. As agents and prosecutors have witnessed, I have a low level of tolerance for lies relating to my person, my former business, the court case, and anyone close to me.[/i]
However, I should not need to warn anyone that my Memoirs book is from my viewpoint.
No matter though - I know that the book is well-written. I know that my attack reviewers are nothing more than liars from that other side caught in their own web of lies in my trial. I won and they lost and they are sore losers; something that has been proven to me on a regular basis ever since.
"I will not re-write a story because one person thinks I should. I love my book, and it is a book meant for a teenager."
I actually did write a second edition as a reaction to one of my 1-star reviewers that claimed to be "confused by the characters" and added, "(I can assume that she changed their names)".
Well, he didn't need to assume as I also addressed the names issue in the preface. I allowed almost all participants in my case the luxury of aliases in the original edition. However, as a result of his claimed confusion:
[i]This is a Second Edition and includes various updates throughout. Most aliases have been omitted.[/i]
Now the agents all get to keep their real names. End of confusion.
Not to the OP personally, but ... I do sort of scratch my head at the implication in some of these posts that the only "honest" review is a 4- or 5-star one. That any reader who really dislikes a book isn't allowed to say so, or is only saying so because they wish the author personal and financial harm.
Do we really have to live in a world where all the children are above average? I mean, if every review is 4 or 5 stars, or therefore denounced as false, then reviews are meaningless. Like grades in a a class are meaningless if no one ever gets below a B.
I read reviews, and pay attention to them. But I pay attention to WHAT they say, as well as how they say it. And I've bought books (and read movies) that had a few terrible reviews (and was pleased by my choices). A few people not liking your book really isn't going to make any difference, no matter what their motivation in writing that review was.
And it's just an opinion! Personally, I don't care for Somerset Maugham's writing--and he still sells. I thought "East of Eden" vastly overrated, and it helped its author win a Pulitzer. And believe me, I'm not jealous of either author, nor would I assume that I could 'lower their sales' by writing a negative review (and besides, they're dead--it's really not personal). But some people here seem to be saying that if I wrote a review in which I criticized "East of Eden" for "telling and not showing" (which it does a LOT, although that's actually not why I didn't like it), then because I'm clearly a writer, I must have some dishonest motivation in writing such a review, and that I'm only trying to harm the author personally. That's ... simply not true.
And THEN authors complain that people buy or download their books and don't leave a review. Well... maybe one reason is because if we can't give a 5-star review, then we're going to be reported to Amazon and attacked on message boards. I'd rather not bother with all the drama, frankly.
Some authors will never, ever entertain the notion that their book could be less than perfect. Hopefully, that's no one here! Because such an attitude is counter-productive, and just silly, besides. As someone else said, publishing is work, and it's a business. You take your lumps, and you keep working, and you keep trying to improve, and you keep hoping to entertain and please a decent-sized group of people. And if you've worked hard and revised and edited and studied and all that, and you still can't please every reader on the planet, you don't let it get to you. You shrug and move on, and keep trying to do your best with new books.
I have a hard time taking anyone serious that has
something to sell me in a post. That is putting it
nicely trust me on that.I have been burnt by
"publishing company frauds" before! I'm not claiming
you are one. However, your post is a little
"Because of my profession, and the rules in my shop,
I rarely write reviews any longer (as I set up a rule
that no one in my shop may review for any of our
clients or any publisher or author for whom we've
done work--obvious conflict of interest); but when I
do, I'm honest.
I've written reviews worded very much like the one
you've cited, that you say is "clearly" the work of
an author or a publishing company. I've stated that
scene transitions are bad; that bad timelines have
existed, that impossible poisons have been used, that
an author "rushed" the end, and yes, I've said that
nothing short of a rewrite will help the book. I'm
sure the author didn't like it--but here's the bottom
line, which none of you may like: we, as readers, are
entitled to our opinions. We're also entitled--and,
in fact, in my opinion, obligated--to tell other
readers, who may be considering plunking down their
hard-earned dollars--that we didn't like it, and why.
In a day and age in which most people seem to suffer
from an utter lack of guts, and worry more about not
making waves and being "liked" than being honest,
it's harder and harder, to my mind, to find competent
reviews that aren't simply fluff or Klausners. "
If the web address belongs to you at the bottom of
this post...then you are selling something. I think
any reader that reads the two star reviews will see
them for what they are. I also have two really good
reviews on the same book. My sales have never been
better so...onward I march.......
Message was edited by: shelsant
[u]You're selling your BOOK[/u]. [b]Everyone here is selling something[/b]. You mayn't see it that way--but you are. Even those of us not selling something in a particular thread--as I am not selling anything in this one, certainly (and obviously: if you'd thought it through, you'd realize that SYMPATHIZING with you, and saying, "yes, those bad people are out to get you" would have been SELLING something--NOT disagreeing with you), all have our own businesses, whether it's writing, cover design, eBook production, whatever. If you didn't have a book you were selling, [i]you [/i]wouldn't be here.
Before I owned a book production company--which, by the way, does[b] NOT PROVIDE EDITING SERVICES[/b], which means [u]I have absolutely nothing to sell to you[/u]--I built 5-star hotels for several decades. I wrote reviews then, (obviously not with some nefarious intention, other than an HONEST review) and I do so now when I'm reviewing a book with which I had nothing to do, and have no interest whatsoever in the author, publisher, etc., involved with it. I very clearly disclosed WHY I rarely review.
We're NOT A PUBLISHING COMPANY. We're eBook producers (the digital-age equivalent of layout and printing companies)--one of the few that are Amazon-Listed, by the way, and one of the [i]only [/i]ones that are both Amazon-Listed AND a preferred conversion partner for INscribe Digital--so your rather cavalier use of the word "fraud" in a sentence about my company is not only careless, but ill-researched.
[u]By the way: "circumspect" means "heedful of potential consequences," not "suspicious.[/u]" I think you confused "circumspect" with SUSPECT.
What I rather politely tried not to say, and actually edited out of last night's post, originally: when I discuss these types of theories with my legacy-published clients, and those who've been in the business for 10-20 years, they [i]laugh[/i]. They tell me that when they started out, they used to salve their wounded pride by telling themselves that the reviewer in such-and-such a paper hated them, or was out to get them, etc. They further tell me that [u]it also allowed them to inflate the importance of their own work[/u]--to think that whatever they did was important enough so that someone would go to all the EFFORT to "do them down." They tell me that after 5-6 years of writing professionally, they came to realize that it's just part of the business, and that no one was really "out to get them." As we've been lucky enough to produce books for over 1,000 authors--amongst them NYTimes-Bestselling authors and even a Pulitzer Winner, I tend to listen to what they tell me.
Whether you believe it or not, I was trying to be helpful--so that people could concentrate on their writing, not obsess about whether their "enemies" were "out to get them," and so they could realize that in a few months or years, the alleged "evil" reviews won't matter.
We produce ebooks
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"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."
I just don't understand why some people leave these
types of reviews.
It's not always with sinister purpose.
Reviewing is often (not always) a transitional phase for aspiring authors. By analyzing other authors and books, they often clarify their own ideas and opinions on how such stories should be written, how they would do it if they were writing the story.
I think it's often a natural part of the process -- and as they get closer to testing their own wings, competing in fact, they often get more aggressive.
Writing is one of those things that almost everyone imagines they could do just as well as the average professional writer -- if they just had the time and interest.
[i]Writing is one of those things that almost everyone imagines they could do just as well as the average professional writer -- if they just had the time and interest.[/i]
Agreed. I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking that if I had a pound for every time I'd heard someone say "oh, you're a writer? I'm going to write a book..." I'd be very, very rich.
And everyone's a critic. Just listen to a group of people watching a TV talent show. You'd think everyone was Simon Cowell...
But, as someone else said, not all negative reviews are from trolls. In fact, I doubt even the majority are. There are trolls out there, undoubtedly, but there are also bad books. Plus, ultimately a review is [i]one person's[/i] opinion, that's all. And as Stephen King once said, "if all the positive reviews are true, then so too are all the negatives." You can give a review as much or as little weight as you want, but I've yet to see a neg review alone kill a book stone dead.
I think I take something good out of all of my reviews. I can see good in a 1 star as well as the 5 star. At least I know I'm doing something right. I still don't think I have the write to tell any author to rewrite their book.
**It's against Amazon's review policy for an author to review in their same genre(s**
Where do these guidelines exist? Who is better fit to review a book than someone with expertise in a given field? I often review books for a newspaper, and most often I am assigned books because I have written in that area.
**if every review is 4 or 5 stars, or therefore denounced as false, then reviews are meaningless**
Long ago I was an Amazon Top Reviewer. (I don't know if the category still exists.) I reviewed every book I read, good or bad. One thing I noticed is that the surest way to get tagged as "unhelpful" was to give one, two, or even three stars. I'm sure the author and his friends voted them down, but so did many others--a political thing in many cases, I suspect. If I excoriated a peacenik book about Vietnam, say, all the peaceniks regarded me as unhelpful; if I did the same to a hawkish treatment, then the hawks found me unhelpful.
And I am sure a lot of people thought I was an author out to get them.
Seems like there are two kinds of reviewers out there. First, there are indie haters out there. If you can't accept that as fact, just go 'over there' on that "other board' and you will see them. I hate so say it, but a lot of their complaints have merit, so, SOME are haters for a legitimate reason.
Second, there are people who feel cheated when they pay good money for something that doesn't hold up to casual scrutiny, let alone an "honest' review of the work.
I spent almost twenty years writing, before the advent of ebooks. I have a box full of rejecion letters from agents, editors, and publishing houses. Never once, did I get pissed about them, especially when they took the time to "call me out" on something that was my fault.
I just published a short, that very frankly, SUCKS! Why did I do it? Because I wanted to see my stuff "out there". I know what's wrong with it, and I know how to correct it. So, when the bad reviews start rolling in (if anyone ever buys this crap), I have no one to blame but myself. "They' did not do it to me, Do yourself a favor, appreciate your legitimate good reviews, but learn from the legitimate bad reviews. Nobody is perfect. I know one "successful" author here who has 5 star reviews. But, when I "looked inside", I found many errors that made me shy away from the purchase. Spend your time trying to improve your work, not hating the legitimate reviewers. Even the "haters" can have a positive influence on your writing, if you make the right choices. JMO, not trying to knock anyone. Like Paul said, "I am the chief of sinners" (paraphrased).
Well, as stated in my previous posts herein, I do not have the "jealous or hateful authors" problem. My three attack reviews are each from someone on the other side of my criminal case. I know that for fact, investigative person that I am.
The problem that you are discussing is a real one though. Absurd that anyone wants to twist it into a non-issue as everyone that responded knows what a small percentage of authors are capable of when it comes to reviews.
We have all seen reviews wherein the reviewer is linking one of their own titles in the review or at least plugging it in some manner. I saw one of those reviews just a few days ago and I come across them somewhat often. Such practices are dirty and I always click "report abuse". More often than not, when I look days or a week later, the review is gone. Revealing.