The Acid Method
(Silver Trilogy, #1)
Halo of the Sun
An Author’s Opinion About Book Reviewers
I’ve kept quiet about authors bullying their reviewers, but today I’m finally going to step onto my shiny skyscraper of a soapbox and express my opinion on authors who’ve shown an undeniable lack of principle. Bear with me; this might be a tad long-winded.
Ahem. First: my backstory.
I’m Laura Kreitzer. I have 5 published books (first one released in February 2010) and several more in progress. Two have been/are currently Best-Sellers on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and one was chosen as a Barnes & Noble Staff Pick. Since 2009, I’ve written 1,018,448 words. That translates to ~4,333 trade paperback pages and ~1,083 pages a year. I’m still a young author and hopefully have many more years ahead of me in the publishing industry. However, I’m lucky compared to many self-published and/or indie-published authors because I actually make a healthy living from my writing. It isn’t a hobby or a side project. I write full time, which means I take writing and the publishing industry seriously.
Before my debut novel took off, I desperately searched for someone—anyone—to read and review it. I was naïve about the process and soon discovered something terribly, horribly wrong: I didn’t receive all 5 star, glowing, fantastical reviews, which was ludicrous! My story was epic, amazing, one of a kind. It had a little something for everyone. So what’s with this 3 star rating? And this review that says I have horrible grammar? And this one reader who says I don’t know where to put my commas? Then (dun, dun, dun) I received my first 1 star review. Holy shit. It must’ve been a mistake—they clicked the wrong star or something, right? WRONG.
If at first you don’t succeed, call in an air strike.
That was where the lesson became downright dirty. Book #2 was published. This was it: the crème de la crème. However, reviewers are notorious for giving their opinions and not sparing feelings. Not every reader liked my writing. Trust me, I was just as shocked as I’m sure you are, as most authors are when they first publish. One reviewer would praise me on a character and another would bash me for it. One reviewer would give me 5 stars for the plot and another would rip it to shreds. I needed to undergo some serious therapy just to get through the review process.
It took me about a year of intense introspection to comprehend that I wasn’t a horrific or masterful author. I was mediocre, as should be expected for having only two novels published (we won’t talk about the previously unpublished stuff).
Time to break out the napalm.
Book #3: Total commitment was essential. I spent more time attending writing workshops, religiously reading the Chicago Manual of Style, and researching how to be a better writer than I spent actually writing. That’s when I concluded that I would never, ever write a book that everyone would love.
Book #4: I was prepared this time. Although I wasn’t fond of reading about how awful my writing/plot/characters/dialogue/grammar/etc. were, I had to admit the unfavorable reviews added depth to my Amazon/B&N/whatever book page. At that point, I realized the only way for me to become a better writer was to read books similar in writing style to my own; I had to hone my skills. It had become my most diabolical plan yet. The reviewer didn’t matter anymore, only my writing did. Brilliant!
So here comes my soapbox rant.
I love reviewers. I’m an equal-opportunity writer always searching for diverse and opinionated reviewers. I don’t ingratiate myself with reviewers so they’ll write a radiant review. I do it because I love it when they use improper grammar to correct mine; I love how they go on and on and on about how much they hate my writing; I love how they praise my writing; I love how I get called a racist when the Canadians take over; I love that my characters are shallow and their relationships unbelievable; I love how they express such deep emotion over modern-day slavery when they read a slave girl’s story; and I love when they promote my writing, even when they don’t like it (but maybe their readers will).
The point is: I love reviewers no matter what they write or how they star my books. They’re essential in every industry. Without honest reviewers, readers are lulled into a false sense of security, thinking they’re purchasing a book worth their time and money. Because that’s the thing some authors can’t seem to grasp: the reviews aren’t for them, they’re for the readers. Fan mail, however, is another story.
After much contemplation about my own reviewing practices, I’ve decided not to change my opinion or ratings based on how the author might react. Even though several authors told me I should only post positive reviews or none at all. I don’t think so. I’m an indiscriminate reviewer; I don’t play favorites, and I’ve never been a liar.
Did you know that readers are shying away from books with almost all 4 or 5 star reviews, even if said book earned and deserved every single one of those ratings, simply because too many reviewers have sugarcoated their opinions and deceived potential readers?
Authors please note: a negative review with a 1 star rating could sell your book just as easily as a 5star rating. I bought The Golden Compass trilogy because of the negative religious flack it was getting, not because of a glowing review.
If you’re an author and still can’t control your desire to attack your reviewers (including taking to social media to air your frustrations), please stop reading reviews of your books or pull on your big kid undies and suck it up. You aren’t perfect, your writing isn’t the best in the world, and there is no way you can please every reader. It’s effin’ impossible, so get over it. It’s a review, not a world-altering conspiracy designed to destroy your writing career. Take a freakin’ chill pill already. Please.
*Side note: Authors, please keep your minions properly cowed. Nepotism is the cause of most breakdowns in policy, which is why you should not only respect reviewers, but you should also refrain from asking your fans, friends, family, agents, editors, or publishers to actively bully reviewers who’ve given an honest review just because your precious feelings were hurt.