Monday, November 10, 2014

Reading & Reviewing


As the new resident reader here, I figured I could blog about something that’s pretty important to readers and authors- reviewing. I had been distantly following a recent blowup in which an author stalked a blogger who left a one star review of her book and then blogged about it. This incident led to a blogger blackout. For one week, many book blogs refused to showcase new reviews in a demonstration against this sort of author behavior, as well as the publisher, who confirmed the address of the blogger in question and didn't acknowledge the author’s wrongdoing in any way. Of course, this blackout had a backlash of its own, with bloggers pitting against other bloggers and any author who spoke out against the protest.

Even with incidents like this, book reviews are important, especially to new authors. Negative book reviews, too. Although painful, they help give credibility to all reviews (really, who else thinks it’s fishy when every single person gives a book five-stars?). And while the Kathleen Hale debacle wasn't the first of its kind (remember the UK author who attacked a reviewer?), she’s more the exception than the rule when it comes to authors and their appreciation--or lack thereof--toward reviewers.

For reviewing, I know we've all heard of Goodreads. I’ll be one to admit that Goodreads can be frustrating for reviews. People include spoilers without checking the spoiler box, just so their review will be more visible. Others use it as a forum to rip a book or author apart. And Goodreads has a policy for authors. The author can flag a review for attacking an author, but the policy states it doesn't mean the review will be removed or modified. Personally, Goodreads is my least favorite place to review (and I’m sure you’ll notice I star my ‘read’ list without always elaborating with a written review). I find it more helpful to review on Amazon. Since I read with the Kindle app, there’s a handy prompt when you reach the end of a book that asks you to take a moment to post your review. Also, I just joined BookLikes, thanks to Kimberly for mentioning it! Once I figure it out, I’ll blog about that.

So, what about you? Where do you review? What do you think of incidents like the above mentioned that stir up the book blogosphere?

13 comments:

  1. Authors behaving badly hurts everyone. I'm a former Army officer (and still a gentleman) so I like to think that my correspondence with reviewers is about as polite and professional as it gets. But in the wake of this blowup I've had reviewers advise me that they're no longer taking requests from ANY authors directly. And even before this, there were times when I said I was a horror author and an occasional reviewer would reply, "I had a horror author treat me poorly once, so sorry, you might be a nice guy, but I'm not taking that chance again." Please, please, please, guys remember that when you're interacting with others you're representing your genre at a minimum, and entirely possibly your whole profession.

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  2. I'm not published, but I've already decided I will never contact reviewers after a review- good or bad. I'd followed along a bit on the debacle you mentioned, and the whole thing was just crazy! When I leave reviews for books, I do it through Amazon, B&N(and as much as I love B&N, they don't make reviewing as easy as Amazon does), and sometimes Goodreads. Curious about BookLikes, I should check it out!

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  3. Great and timely post, Brianna. As an author, it is incredibly hard to get reviews. Bloggers are inundated with review requests. For every 30 review requests I send out, I might get one response. I would never, ever do anything to jeopardize a good blogger/author relationship regardless of the outcome of the review.

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  4. Responding to a negative review was bad. Going to the reviewer's house and calling the place where she worked ... that was outright stalking. I can't believe the Guardian printed the story, in which the author is unapologetic and seems to feel her actions were "investigative reporting" in which she discovered ... hang on to your seats ... that the blogger was older than her profile said she was. Yup, a pretty shocking crime.

    I had one bad experience with an author for a review I wrote. This was several years ago, when I used to write reviews for a blog that specialized in self-published books. I read a science fiction book, enjoyed it, and gave it 4 stars. The author emailed me to argue about why I didn't give him the final star.

    Later, another review for the book appeared on Amazon -- a 1 star. This reviewer said he bought the book based on my good review, hated it, and proceeded to tear it apart. Then the author emailed ME to complain about him, wanting to know if I knew him personally and somehow blaming me for his review. Meanwhile, he and the other reviewer were ranting at each other in the comments. My name kept appearing, especially because the 1-star reviewer suggested I had been paid to write my good review, or I was the author's sister or girlfriend or otherwise knew him. Because it was impossible that I actually liked the book. He hated it, after all.

    Does it shock anyone to know that I quit reviewing after that?

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    1. Nope, not at all! =) Why can't people on the internet be nice and not crazy rude? *shakes head*

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    2. When I was a librarian, I had one of the teen pages write a book review (based on an ARC the author sent) for my librarian blog. She liked the book, but didn't love it. The author emailed me and got defensive. My teen page is an adult librarian now, but this whole debacle reminded us of that.

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    3. All these horror stories are upsetting! Being naive, I like the idea of a peaceful co-existence. Why do people have to mess with that? :P

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  5. Great post, Brianna. As a self-published author I know how difficult it is to get anyone outside friends and family to notice a new author. Reviews are a key part of just getting 'authenticity' - as you say, I need to be able to prove that not all those good reviews came from people I know!

    When I read about what that particular author did, I felt sick to my stomach. Do I dread getting a review/rating that's lower than a 4 out of 5? Sure - I've worked hard and it feels good when you know people enjoy your work. However do I resent anyone for reviewing/rating my books based on their honest reaction? No.

    I've seen some reviews on books that that just tear the author up. I don't think that is necessary to share an opinion on a book. For example, there's a way to politely say there are grammatical errors without calling the author illiterate. If I read a book that's not edited well, it's kind of my own fault for not reading the sample before buying or checking out the existing reviews. However, it's the curse of the Internet - anonymity. Some people tend to forget all manners and basic human kindness when they're talking to a computer screen.

    Regardless, nothing justifies the actions of an author (or anyone for that matter) stalking someone else just because they didn't like what the person said.

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  6. It's incredible to me that anyone would take it so far. Do you remember a few years back when Kiera Cass (author of The Selection and one of my all time fav series) freaked over a bad review? She and her agent fought back and I'm fuzzy on the details, but they got like an army of fans to attack the reviewer. It was ridiculous. There's always going to be bad stuff. And if I don't love a book I'll just mark it as read on Goodreads. The lowest stars I'll give are 4, and I have to be mad for a book to write a review.

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    1. I think that's one of the frustrating aspects of these situations- the way people rally together and gang up on someone, whether it's the author and an army of fans or a blogger and an army of reviewers.

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  7. As a newbie, I won't have to worry about this kind of stuff for a while. Still, it definitely says something about how the internet has changed the reader/reviewer/author relationship. Used to be that a critic --remember when you actually had to have credentials to be a critic? Now literally everyone is a critic-- would just bash your book in the newspaper or a magazine, then the newspaper or magazine would get thrown away and people would eventually forget about it. Now a bad review is attached to you forever, like a stain you can never wash away. At some point, I guess you've got to just chalk it up to not being able to please everyone. I guess that's easy for me to say... Great post, Brianna!

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  8. I know when I'm ever published, the one thing I will NOT do is look at reviews. I get mad at reviews for OTHER authors. I'm not going to put myself through that. lol

    I'm nominating you for the Liebster Award! If you would like to accept, here is the information. :D http://debramckellan.blogspot.com/2014/11/friday-freeday-liebster-award.html

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