Authors V Reviewers & Social-Media Etiquette!

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Yet again, social media is alight with a battle of words between a blogger and an author and it led me to ask the question, who, ultimately, is in the right?  Should authors have the right to flag reviews that are less than complimentary? Do bloggers have the right to start a revolt when an author questions their opinions? And do we even care? 

For me, my reviews are based on the book.  Just the book.  Not the author, the famedom, other reviews, or even friends’ opinions.  I am not led by the majority and I make my own mind up about everything in life. That said, even if I really don’t like a book, I would never body-slam an author with abusive words but I will provide a critical and honest review of their book, whether they like it or not.

Having been blogging and reviewing books for a number of years, I am still shocked to find authors and their promoters asking for 1 and 2 star reviews not to be posted without prior discussion and this makes me FURIOUS!  We’ve taken the time to read a book, we’ve taken the time to make notes on what has and hasn’t worked, we’ve catalogued our thoughts, so why shouldn’t we be able to post our, carefully worded, reviews?

Authors who write solely for the positive reviews should change jobs, in my honest opinion.  We are judged by our actions in every walk of life so why do authors find it so hard to accept criticism?  I understand that they have worked tirelessly to produce their best book to date but to expect everyone who reads it to love it is taking reality into the realms of impossibility.  If I enjoy a book I say so, if I don’t enjoy it I will also say so.  But I will NEVER be offensive to an author despite how disappointing their book is, in my opinion.  Having read hundreds of books there are some that I’ve come across that have made me wonder why an author has even bothered to hit the publish button, but would I say so in such a brutal fashion? NO, absolutely not.  I have also struggled to finish books on occasion (this number is less than 10 if you’re interested to know) but, with the exception of one or two, I have not rated these books and often comment that the book’s storyline just wasn’t for me.  Let’s face it, if we sit down at home to watch a film and don’t enjoy it, then we’ll just stop watching it.  Do the actors take offence when this happens? NO! Does the director crawl away ashamed of your dissatisfaction? OF COURSE NOT!  So, why do authors feel it necessary to challenge the opinion of their readers? 

I know many authors who will not read reviews, good or bad, and even though I can appreciate their stance, I have to wonder how they can continue to write not knowing whether people like what they’ve written or not. How could they continue writing a series, for instance, not knowing whether the fans have lost interest in it, or not?  You can’t base your opinions on the worth of your book by sales alone.  This for me is akin to walking blindly into a burning building.  Open your eyes, put on your big girl panties, arm yourself with a stiff drink, and take the time to see what your readers are saying!  To base your writing on the opinions of your immediate fan clubs is writing suicide.  Authors need to widen the review net in order to get honest opinions from their readers.  If they don’t, they may not realise that they’ve lost their fan base before it’s too late. 

This post was pre-empted by an email that I received from an author who had taken it upon herself to defend her actions in a recent clash with a blogger.  I had been unaware of this argument which had been started by a negative and, quite possibly, over critical review on Goodreads. Now, instead of contentedly sitting in my special little book fantasy world, away from the drama of everyday life, I find myself immersed in an unsavoury battle of wills between readers, bloggers and the author in question.  I really would have preferred to have remained in the dark and unaware of this recent fallout but instead, I am writing this post, angered by some of the points outlined by the author but even more saddened by the actions of reviewers who have amended their book ratings, reviews and opinions of the author based on this battle of words.  I understand people have been offended by the author’s response to the negative reviews but instead of sitting back and making up their own minds, they have been swept into an argument that should have been handled behind closed doors.  

My reviews, for both of the author in question’s books, will go live soon.  They will remain solely based on my opinions of the books, they will be rated as I see fit and they will be an honest critique of the author’s writing and storytelling abilities.  I don’t care if the author, or other reviewers, agree or disagree with my opinions, these are my thoughts and mine alone.  I bow down to no-one; peer pressure has no place in my life!  

So readers, reviewers, bloggers, authors, let’s be realistic with the parts we play here.  It’s cliché, but don’t judge a book by its cover, don’t discount a book based on the opinions of others, and most importantly, don’t get drawn into social media politics.  Let’s do what we all love: read books with a smile on our face and, if you’re like me, an alpha in your heart!

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