Friday, 15 March 2013
Reader's View: Back Off The Bad Reviews
Am I the only one who has noticed the trend towards denigrating 1 star reviews lately? Last year I read THIS POST by popular blogger J.A. Konrath in which he said, and I quote:
"Every one of those millions of reviewers who trashed a book deliberately did it to harm that book's sales. That's the whole point of a one star review. Someone yelling to the world "Don't buy this!"
This is why I don't leave one star reviews. I think it is a shitty, mean thing to do."
Whilst the post itself does contend that people should be allowed freedom of speech and leaving 1 star reviews is allowed by such entities as Amazon and Goodreads, the overwhelming tone essentially says people who write 1 star reviews are evil.
Today I came across THIS POST which sets out to list the The Top Ten Best Books With The Worst Amazon Reviews. The article lists the classics like 1984, The Great Gatsby, Ulysses and War & Peace, posts quotes from the bad reviews and then goes on to poke fun at those reviews. Does this not strike anyone else as being a tad bit hypocritical? Don't even get me started on the literary, elitist, snobbery. I am currently trying to reread The Great Gatsby. Four months and counting. I don't dislike it but these people make it sound like it's a cardinal sin not to enjoy the classics.
Maybe I'll feel differently about it once I'm published and get my own 1 star reviews but for the moment, I am really annoyed at the assumption and the conceitedness that surrounds these people who poo-poo 1 star reviews. I've left a few 1 star reviews in my time. Not once have I done it because I deliberately want to harm someone's book sales. To be honest, I couldn't care less about authors as people when I read their books. I judge a book by its contents and if I don't like what I read, I am honest about it. Why should I have to wait and consider the impact it has on the author if I write a 1 star review? Reviewing isn't charity. Good reviews shouldn't be given just because you feel sorry for an author and worry about what it might do to their book sales. If I go to a dentist and they knock out all my teeth should I go home and contemplate the harm I will do to their business if I complain or will I make my displeasure known?
I follow many reviewers on Goodreads who have posted 1 star reviews. Far from being remiss about it, these people always write lengthy considered reviews outlining why they truly disliked a book. I don't see anything wrong with this. I also don't see anything wrong with someone simply giving a 1 star review and writing a short paragraph about it not being for them. Just like reading is subjective so too if the amount of weight a person puts on a bad review. If I see a 1 star review with no explanation I simply don't give it any weight. Sometimes a reviewer finds a book so abhorrent they lose their marbles and write their own novel of a rant. So what? I find overly positive reviews with heaps of .gif animations useless and a waste of my screen space. Yet I don't see any authors complaining about those reviews.
Don't get me wrong, it's not as though I hand out 1 star reviews like it's going out of fashion. Believe it or not it takes a lot for me to give a book a 1 star review. I don't mind grammatical errors, formatting slips or even slightly mundane story telling. These things are forgivable to me. I get that writing isn't easy. What I can't forgive is impossibly stupid characters and gender self hating female protagonists. But none of the consideration I go through when I write a review is "Hmmm I don't want this book to make any money so I'm going to give it a 1 star review." Because you know, my blog and Goodreads profile is so super famous that my bad review will convince everyone not to buy a book.
I don't know about you guys but I for one and sick of all the 1 star review trashing