Thursday, July 27, 2017

Bad Reviews

Ever since I first started posting reviews, on my blog, on any social networks, on Amazon, I've rarely posted a bad review.  If I really dislike a book, I generally set it aside, delete from my Kindle and cloud and figure, it's just not to my taste.  Maybe someone else will like it better. After all, I am an author and I know how much a bad review can hurt your heart, let alone your pocketbook.

Of course, now we have hundreds, maybe even thousands, of talented new authors bravely throwing their work out there on the Kindle self publishing platform.  So many new books I could never hope to sort through and read them all. So I've subscribed to a few of those book newsletters that send you lists of books that are free or discounted with a blurb about how wonderful they are and I've been picking up some books on the Kindle guided by those blurbs and the glowing Amazon reviews that go with them.

Boy, have I been disappointed!  I thought that Amazon had tamed the purchased five star review market and it was now safe to skim some reviews and make a book purchase.  Instead it seems as if the more glowing and hyperbolic the review, the worse the book.  This isn't something I've noticed on one occasion.  I'd ignore it.  No, this is over and over and over again, I buy a book with glowing reviews and a chapter or two into it I am thinking... did this person not even run spell check on the rough draft before they published it?

Actually, I'd ignore some misspelled words or bad grammar.  It's story inconsistencies I can't stand.  Bad writing. Or what I consider bad writing, anyway.

This isn't one novel out of five, again, something I'd ignore. In fact, I'd be inclined to ignore two of five, or three of five, but five of five?

And all of them with glowing reviews, comparing them to work by the finest writers of the past and present.

It got so bad, I've deleted so many books in the last month, for such egregious bad writing, that I really felt like there should be a warning light in the darkness. That someone in those pink clouds and rainbows, ought to turn on the lights and say - this book sucks because...

It finally outweighed my personal (strong) morals against giving bad reviews.

So I posted three bad reviews of the worst offenders I've read in the last month or so.

Today I got a reply from one of the authors.  He attacked me personally in the review, saying I go around trying to write mean reviews and it's obviously my thing from looking at my reviews, because my review is the only bad review and many other people wrote great reviews. (And I think - yeah, I wonder how you guys manage that - tame reviewers, paid reviewers, maybe just reviewers with lower standards...I'll say that many of them repeat the same key phrases over and over...)

Which tells me he only went back three reviews, because prior to that, of course, I gave only good reviews.

I stand by my review.  The book, in my humble opinion - and I have a right to one, is awful. But at the same time - this started my day off on the wrong foot.  I mean, I'm sorry.  I'm an author.  I know it hurts like hell to get a review like that. On the other hand, I am a reader.  I am sick to death of buying books that have glowing reviews and then finding out they are awful. There goes an hour or two of my life I'll never get back. I could have been doing the laundry or something useful. If I had skimmed the reviews and seen there were a number of one stars, I would have read a couple of them and concluded this person isn't the next master of thrillers. And saved my money and time. And considered the reviewers who gave the one stars good people - thanks for saving me from a bad book.

While I was answering the authors reply, my husband and I were talking about some political things that are going on. Pretty negative stuff in our opinion. It seems as though almost everything online and in the news is really negative lately.

Our life, on the other hand, is actually finally going well.  Life is good. The fact my husband is alive is good - but beyond that he is getting better every day.  He's even gaining some weight back.  I'm on kind of a roll in my personal life, too. Doing a lot of origami and artwork, gaming, learning game development (!) and in general enjoying a good life. After the last couple of years of insane drama, it's very nice and quiet.

So this whole business of bad kindle books with glowing reviews, giving a bad review because a book is really so awful I feel readers should be warned, and being reminded how painful that is for a writer who, no doubt, poured their soul into this book, the whole situation....I don't need it. It's all negative. Yes, I love to read and it honestly makes me upset to start reading a book I was looking forward to because of the reviews, and find it terrible.

It doesn't help any of these dear indie writers that I also hit a great hard copy book sale a few weeks ago and I now have a shelf full of REAL John Grisham, Marcia Mueller, J.D. Robb, and my favorite Dean Koontz to read. The contrast is not very flattering to the indie writers.

I hearby excuse myself.  I'm cancelling my subscriptions to the book newsletters. I'm deleting pretty much everything I've bought in the last six months. There's been a couple of real finds - I reviewed them - that were outstanding and I will probably concentrate my limited budget on buying up the rest by those authors.  Maybe I'll do a blog post on each of those authors, as penance! They deserve whatever kudos I can throw their way both to encourage them and to remind us readers that there are some good ones to be found.

Someone else with a stronger heart, or a greater tolerance for negativity and bad writing can be the lighthouse who posts honest reviews in a pile of promotional bullshit. I've got better things to do.

Too bad though.  This stuff is burying and destroying what I dreamed the self publishing market could have been for good, indie authors. Just like the political negativity is burying the cute kitten videos and positive, supportive community I dreamed social media could be.

Maybe human beings simply aren't the shining lights of spirit I dreamed they are.  Maybe we simply cannot bear the sunshine and would prefer to bury ourselves in dung.

Now I'm really depressed.  I'm going to go fold some pretty flowers.


Summer Foovay

Link to all of my reviews, if you're interested. I just counted, three recent one star reviews, and the rest on this page are four or five stars except for one mediocre 3 star and a game that I gave a one star to. Even the freaking product reviews are good.  LOL.

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