Friday, September 24, 2010

The Ugly Truth About Reviews

I think at some point, every writer has felt both good and bad about reviewers--not reviews, those who do the reviewing. I mention this thread because a few days ago, a pretty well-known writer got into an unintentional battle with a popular review site, and the readers of that site are pretty rabid.

The reviewer mentioned that the heroine of the piece made her want to vomit. Yeah, hurl. The writer made a HUGE mistake by trying to make lemonade out of lemons. Honestly, I didn't read the author's comeback post as anything less than funny, something about Pepto Bismo, and it made me laugh. I thought, how clever of her not to say anything negative. Good for Jenny Writer. Well, then another hundred people jumped on the bandwagon that Jenny Writer was being mean, they looked at her Facebook comments, and the fur really started flying.

Man. You'd think most writers would know by now that you can't win. Seriously. Hell, and it's not just writers. Musicians, artists, athletes, you name it, none of us are ever free of criticism, are we?

But in the public eye, I think the best you can hope for (from a bad review) is for it to all blow away. Because if you try to play it off, someone out there will take offense to something you say and blow it all out of proportion. If you respond defensively, you come across as whiny and needful of praise. I've always found that a simple thank you or no reply at all is better than trying to engage in dialogue with snarky reviewers. They have an opinion, they stated it, end of story.

But it struck me when I read that post by Jenny Writer, because I honestly didn't see anything mean spirited about it. It's funny how you can turn anything inside out when you read written word. Spoken aloud, intonations and pitch lend meaning. But on a computer screen, anything can be misconstrued. Man, don't get me started on a post I wrote a few years ago about bad language. Oh man, that was ugly... and moving on...

A lot of people claim that reviews mean nothing. Well, in this day and age, they mean something to me--as a consumer. If enough people badmouth a book, I might not read it. If enough Yahoo users claim that next horror movie I've been eyeing sucks, I'm not shelling out ten bucks to see it.

So yeah, reviews mean something. And sure, as the receiver of both good and bad reviews, I've been annoyed. The other day I was digging for a review on an older book I'd written (for advertising purposes) and couldn't find anything. (Yes, I SO need to archive my stuff.) So I thought, why not try Amazon? And there I found a terrible review for one of my books. And why did the reviewer not like it? Because the Christian site that led her to my erotic romance title (????) didn't give her the mystery or suspense she'd wanted. Huh? I wanted very badly to ask the woman why she'd buy a book without reading the blurb that went with it, or to add something obnoxious like an "oh God" said in the heat of the moment could very well be inspirational, but I declined.

Not worth the effort or the potential mess of a discussion I really didn't want to have. And really, did it matter in the end? My royalties are nice and I'm happy with what I wrote. I have bigger problems to deal with and new stories to write. Why get dragged down in the negatives?

Food for thought on your happy Friday.


Anonymous said...


Rebecca Royce said...

I seem to have missed this whole thing. Great post!

Marie Harte said...

Well, Rebecca, count yourself lucky. It was a train wreck I wanted to look away from but couldn't. Some blog nonsense. But you know,the drama is already dead and gone, until something new comes up. Such as happens in romance land. Geesh.