Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wednesday's Words for August 18, 2010

It's been my experience that there are always going to be people who would rather tear down than build up.

If you look at it in the physical realm, you understand that it's easier to demolish a building than to build one. To construct a building that is safe and sound and will last, takes planning, co-ordination, skill, patience and time.

Any donkey-butt with a wrecking ball or a stick of dynamite can reduce a building to rubble.

Thanks to a very heated discussion I’ve been reading on a couple of my author loops, my attention has once more been focused on the subject of commentary aimed at authors, and reviews. Now, I’m not even in this case referring to credited reviews. No, I’m referring to the “anyone who purchases can review” kind of review. I call them soul-sucking reviews.

If you’re an author, it is hard to develop a thick skin. Because we are writers, and writers down to the bone, we tend to be sensitive. We have to be, in order to perceive the nuances in the world around us, and write about them. Unfortunately that which makes us open to inspiration also leaves us vulnerable to attack.

I agree that everyone is entitled to their opinion. I also know, and fully understand, that not everyone is going to like every book produced. That being said, let me tell you what I really think of those who go around trashing other people’s work—and here, I’m talking about those who buy books online, and then trash them.

First, for nearly every e-book you can name, there are excerpts available for you to peruse, so that you can get a feel for the book, and the author’s voice and style. Also, for many books, there are professional reviews posted at the distribution site. So before you click on the “buy” button you should have a very good idea what it is you’re buying.

Most sites that offer e-books for sale—from publisher sites to mega-sites like Amazon—offer the purchaser the opportunity to rate a book, on a scale of 1 to 5. Some also allow for comments.

To my way of thinking, you should only rate a book a 1 or a 2 if one or more of the following conditions apply: the book is riddled with grammatical and spelling errors; the plot, as suggested by the blurbs and excerpts is completely other than advertised; if there is no plot; if the characters are vile, or just unlikeable, or just plain too stupid to live.

Does that sound unreasonable? I can read a book, tell you it’s not to my taste, but I wouldn’t rate it a 1 or a 2 for that. Would you?

I doubt it’s possible, really, but maybe one or two of these “poopy review deliverers” actually reads my essay each week. On the off-chance that they do, this next part is directed to them.

Does it give you a thrill to hurt other people’s feelings? Do you also enjoy stealing candy from children and kicking puppies and kittens? Do you understand that your “1” or “2” lowers the ratings average on the books in question, and that you, by your actions, are actually costing authors sales?

I have no objection to a poor review if that is truly what the work deserves. Goodness knows, there are authors out there who need to get a few 1s and 2s so that they understand they need to get busy and get better. But to trash a book either for the hell of it, or out of jealous spite, or to give someone you like a boost vis-à-vis crippling the competition, is a mean and nasty thing to do.

The only thing I can hope is that eventually, if you do it enough, you’ll get banned from giving your opinion on these sites.

If that isn’t something distribution sites consider as a possible course of action, it certainly should be.


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