Review Whinery: Quit Bitching and Suck It Up

This has been pissing me off for awhile now, but I haven’t gotten to ranting about it. Today, I read Holly’s post over at Sanctuary’s Finest (and the RTB post she linked), which brought the subject to mind again. Obligatory warning: If you’re easily offended, stop reading here.

All right, look. I don’t know a published author out there who likes reading negative reviews of her work. (I’m sure there must be a few sick people out there, so I’m sticking the “I don’t know a…” on there in case someone decides to speak up just to prove me wrong. ;)) Really, who likes to be told that something they spent long hours on sucks ass like a cheap whore who can’t figure out which end to blow? Yeah, I thought so.

But I see a lot of authors whining about reviews on blogs and boards. Of course, people have a right to say what they want, but so do I. 😉 I’m constantly annoyed by people who post a long “woe is me” whine about a glowing review that had two lines of minor criticism. “I wished she had spent more time on… [whatever].”

Author’s response: “OMG! She HAAAAAAAATED it!!!”

Other people’s responses: “Oh, poor baby, the mean reviewer!”

Me: *mutter*growl* *wander off to kill virtual zombies* (Because there aren’t any real zombies to kill instead…)

Seriously, that’s annoying, but it doesn’t bother me as much as some of the other stuff. I try to have patience for new authors/writers, even if I don’t always succeed. At least I usually succeed in keeping my trap shut. 😛

What really cooks my goose are the authors who say that readers shouldn’t ever say anything negative about a book they read. Um. HELLO? If the reader paid her hard-earned cash to buy your book, she is fucking entitled to post her opinion on her blog. It doesn’t matter if you like it or not. Sure, I’d love it if everyone who read my books loved them, but that’s not realistic. Some people are just gonna hate them, for whatever reason. Maybe it’s not the sort of book they expected. Maybe the tone isn’t one they like. Maybe something in the book is a “hot button trigger.” Or maybe they just plain don’t like it. Do you like every book you’ve ever read? I thought not.

The issue is a bit squidgier when you’re talking about reviews blogs/sites that function mostly based upon author submissions. Places have different protocols. For example, at Evolution’s (poorly tended) book reviews, if one reviewer hates a book, we hand it to another. If the second also hates it, the two reviewers compare notes. We then contact the author, explain succinctly why the reviewers disliked it, and ask if the author would still like the review posted.

I don’t think I need to say what the answer usually is. LOL.

Other places don’t give such an option. And they have every right to do it the way they want.

Ironically, the people that have complained the most have been authors who sent their work somewhere for review and then had it trashed. Look, if you send your book to a reviewer like Mrs. Giggles, you had damn well better expect it. Reviewers like that are hard even on the books they like, much less books they don’t.

Of course, then the response is, “Reviewers like that should only give out complimentary reviews or close! It’s mean to be snarky!”

Dot. Dot. Fucking. Dot.

Yes, because newspapers and professional industry publications so work that way. You’ll never see a negative review come out of someplace like Publishers Weekly or your local newspaper. Nope, it’s just full of sugar and spice and everything nice, and you’ll never have to deal with that there. /sarcasm

I don’t really have words to explain how stupid I think this attitude is. This is the real fucking world, people, not a everyone-play-nice sandbox. Sure, negative reviews hurt and make you doubt yourself and what you’re doing–but if you’re going to bitch, do it to your crit partner, writing buddy, whatever. Don’t sit there and throw a public temper tantrum because someone “trashed” your “baby.” (Who the fuck came up with that crazy book-as-baby idea, anyway?)

Shit happens. Get over it and start writing the next book.

6 Replies to “Review Whinery: Quit Bitching and Suck It Up”

  1. Yes, yes, and yes.

    I don’t *like* negative reviews, but I do love honest and critical reviews, even if they point out negative things that a reader didn’t like about my book. Because I do learn from that … and some things are just subjective, so maybe what bothered a reviewer I *know* is there, and I have accepted it as a weakness (but maybe one I couldn’t write any other way) and an aspect of my writing that I might need to improve — I don’t see that bothering me.

    And I’m totally sending my book to Mrs. Giggles, just because I love her to death. And if she hates it? Well, at least I know it’ll be entertaining … and really, really honest.

  2. Ahh, thank you. You said it even better in your post than I did at mine.

    I guess the thing that gets me the most is…writing is an artform. And anytime you publicly display a piece of art, you’re subject to criticism. So why do authors (though I’m sure they aren’t the only ones) think they’re above it? It just makes so sense to me at all.

    Oh, and incidentally, it was I, not Jazz who posted that today. Not that it matters since we share the credit on all posts, but I just thought I’d let you know. 🙂

  3. Meljean: Same here. The impression I get is that a lot of authors don’t keep in mind that reader’s opinion is subjective; if one hates it, then they all must, right? Except that’s blatantly not true, and all you need to do to see it is visit an Amazon page of a moderately popular book and look over the “reviews.”

    Frankly, it’s also pretty easy to tell when something just isn’t a reviewer’s cuppa. If the reviewer is talking about how she couldn’t get a feel for the romance due to the length, there’s a fair chance she just doesn’t like short stories. (A lot of people don’t.) If several reviewers say the same thing, it might be something to look at… but even then, there’s more to be considered. I know Lilith Saintcrow received a lot of criticism from romance readers for the ending of Working for the Devil–but it wasn’t a romance novel. Writing books by the rules of a different genre? Not a great idea, lol.

    As for Mrs. Giggles, I sent a copy of The Twilight Deception to her. I’ll be interested to see what she thinks of it… hopefully she likes it 😉 but if she doesn’t, oh well, I’ll deal. Can’t win ’em all. 🙂

  4. Holly: Totally agreed. I’ve always viewed it as part of the business. Then again, I’ve viewed rejection in the same light, and I’ve heard a looooot of writers whine about that, too. (Funny that my reaction when I started sending work out at 15 was,\”Okay, they didn’t like it. Oh well. Time to send it somewhere else.”) 🙄

    Maybe it’s just the romance community, but the attitude is that we should all be sugary-sweet nice to each other… and you know, I’m not gonna gush over a book I hate. I’m going to post my opinion, thank you very much. If you don’t want to hear it, then you shouldn’t be obsessively Googling your name.

    And meep! I don’t know how I got that confused. 😯 So sorry… *makes correction*

  5. Nonny,

    The thing is, as romance readers, we’re often VERY sweet. We embrace our fellow readers and gush over our favorites, and try – more often than not – to get other people to read them. That’s more than I can say for any other genre.

    So when I see things like that, it just irks me to death. Bad reviews and rejections are just part and parcel, right?

    And no worries about the name thing. Like i said, we share credit for all posts on our blog. 😉

  6. Yup, as a general rule, we are. I think it’s a great thing, because you’re right, it’s not as much the case in other genres. But some people seem to think that means you should always be sweet, even at the price of sincerity.

    When it comes down to it, I don’t tend to believe reviews from sites that have “guaranteed” an “author-friendly” review, because I have consistently seen them heap glowing praise upon books which were the worst sort of crap out there. Once or twice, I could see it being a difference in taste, but consistently? *shakes head*

    There’s a reason why, as a reader, I stick to places like Dear Author, Smart Bitches, Bam’s Book Reviews, Mrs. Giggles, etc. I don’t buy / not buy based totally on them, but if more than one of them thinks a book is utter crap… well, I’ll get it off BooksFree rather than buy it new. If I like it enough–well, I might or might not buy it, depending, but I’ll probably get the next book new. 🙂

    And as an author, I tend to disbelieve reviews from the “author-friendly” sites. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe they really do like all these books. But the praise does not feel genuine from them. If a review site or blog which is known for shredding books they don’t like, though, loves my book (as in the case of Literary Sass’s reviews of Waking the Shadows)… that means something to me.

    But maybe I’m just all kinds of fucked up. (Not like that’s news. LOL.)

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