The Negative Review……What about the reviewer?:
So I have been quiet about this for a while because I had never really been the one on the receiving end, but recently one of my reviews made it into that territory. You know what I mean. That review that upset/hurt an author and said author took to social media looking for validation and uplifting from fans. Those fans then started spewing insults at the unknown reviewer talking about the review being hateful or asking what has the reviewer written lately. Saying things like how awesome said writer was while the reviewer must be a mean or spiteful person if all they had time to do was cut authors down. I understand that the fans just wanted to make the author feel better, but what about the person behind the review?
Not all reviewers are uneducated “trolls” who are jealous. Not all reviewers are failed authors. We are not simply “bullies hiding behind a keyboard.” We enjoy extolling the virtues of good, well edited, works. It is why we do what we do. We want people to find works we loved and read them. We want to promote new authors and share the love we have for our all time favorites. Unfortunately, not every book we read connects with us. Not every book out there deserves 4 or 5 stars. Here at Prism Books Alliance, we pride ourselves on honest, thoughtful reviews whether they are positive or negative. If we can say “we usually like this author, but this one didn’t work,” then a reader may pass on that particular title but try a different one. That negative review may have just saved the author a fan. If that potential fan had read that one that didn’t work for us, that reader may have walked away saying “I don’t like author XYZ.” In addition, some readers enjoy forming their own opinion and a negative review will actually gain a sale for an author.
As for me personally, I am a reader and reviewer. I am educated with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering. I work daily with math and science to help make the world an easier place to live in. I know I am not creative enough to produce works anywhere near the quality of most writers today. I own that fact, but I love reading and without readers, authors would have no job. Just as authors get frustrated with negative or nitpicky reviews, I as a reviewer get frustrated at being called to the carpet because I am ONLY a reader and have never written anything. That is not true, I do write. I write technical reports daily at work. I create presentations and email communications for various audiences. In my spare time, I read 6 -10 books a week and produce reviews for most of those stories. My reviews are read by fellow readers daily and as such I have to make sure that my thoughts are clear and written in a way that people can understand them easily. I proofread and edit my content as best as I can. Sometimes I reach out for help when I cannot get it right. I may not create novels or get paid for my reviews, and I am sure you can pick apart this post for instances of incorrect grammar. But I write, a lot.
In the case of my “negative review,” I was not hateful or mean. I was and still am a huge fan of the author. This author was an autobuy for me and I have read all of said author’s works. I jumped at the chance to review the author’s stuff every time it crossed my path. My review was not done to tear this person down and was not purposely spiteful. I agonized over writing it because I do value the author’s talent and don’t want people to think that I don’t appreciate the time and effort an author goes through to write a book. All of those mean comments from the ”super fans” cut me down and hurt my feelings, because none of those comments applied to this situation at all. I was vilified and many fans offered to “kick my ass” and stated that I obviously was not a “true fan.” And the author? While this person did not blatantly bash my review, the author did thank the fans for all the positive concern and love shown in the comments. All this did was encourage the comments and mob mentality to continue.
How is this behavior beneficial in any way? How is it OK to uplift an author by tearing down a fellow fan? Why is it OK to make hateful remarks when you do not know the whole story? Calling someone a bully while in turn bullying the reviewer. You don’t know me, you don’t even know which book was reviewed or what my review said.
For me, the outcome was worse than the sadness I felt over writing the review. I have now crossed a favorite author off my list for good. I am too afraid to write another review for this person as I don’t know when I will be crucified for not connecting with one of the author’s books. 90% of my reviews for this author have been positive and uplifting. I have even been thanked for my reviews on multiple occasions. But now I know what happens on the rare occasion I don’t connect with one particular title from this author. And the hurt that the fans imparted on me while trying to defend the author is not worth it. I also noticed that some of the fans who were cutting me down and offering to kick my ass are also authors who I have read or who I have been wanting to read. Now I question if I should give them a chance. What if I don’t like their stuff? Will they behave the same and allow their fans to make me out to be a monster?
So, goodbye favorite author and could have been favorite authors. It was fun while it lasted, but I have every right to my opinions and my feelings just as you do and I choose to impart them to authors who won’t throw me to the wolves. And yes they exist. I have also been the recipient of an author thanking me for taking the time to read his work even if I did not connect with his characters. And he even went so far as to defend my right to like or dislike his works when his fans would have tried to tear me apart.
Just remember next time you join that mob to rush to uplift an author who has had their feelings hurt, there is a person behind the review as well. You don’t know their situation or their motivations and those people have feelings too.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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