Sunday, April 19, 2015


I've written before that we all want our work to be liked.  It can be ego-shattering when someone tells us our work sucks, even if they say it in a nice way("It just wasn't for me.").  However, getting too caught up in this can have a detrimental effect on not just our public reputation, but on the integrity of the review system as a whole.

More and more stories have come out about authors seeking out those who gave them a poor review and berating them.  This leads to a triple effect - the person doing the berating looks like a loon, those who give reviews start shying away from providing them, and those who are left pile on like a zombie on brains.

Kathleen Hale was just the beginning.  I've been reading stories about everyone from publicists to publishers to parents seeking out a person who gave a review that wasn't up to snuff, and then doing everything they could to get the reviewer to change it.  In many cases, the reviews in question aren't even of the one-star "this is the worst novel in existence" kind.  Rather the reviewer simply didn't give a glowing four-star write up and tell everyone that survival in our world depended on reading this work.

I understand some of that frustration.  The system is subject to inflation, and those who maintain integrity by giving books what they honestly felt they deserved as opposed to an OH-MY-GOD-THIS-IS-INCREDIBLE write up are increasingly rare.  It happens in every area where grading is done - school, movies, work, etc.  In my own line of work, grade inflation has gotten so bad that they have had to revamp the evaluation system every few years to try and stop everyone from being the #1-top-superstar.

However, that doesn't justify the screeching at reviewers that I've seen.  If you get a one or two star review, so what?  What you want is a lot of people reviewing your work.  If you get a bunch of poor reviews, then you need to ask yourself why.  But if you get a couple that don't say you're awesome, while most seemed to enjoy what you wrote, then forget about them.  Remember, reading is subjective, and not everyone has the same taste.  It's only when it becomes a trend that you need to be concerned.

Another thing to remember that the internet can also be merciless to those who show they can't stomach poor reviews.  Ask places like Windermere Cay in Florida what happens when you show that you not only dislike poor reviews, but that you stalk and threaten those who give them.  In the past, in an era where we were limited to foldup newspapers and TV snippets, the market on reviews was constricted.  Since the advent of the internet, and the voice it gives to people from all walks of life(an internet mob?), more and more people can and will get involved on reviewing work, and some take delight out of beating the shit out of those insecure enough to say they hate those who deride their work.

If you want good reviews, then write good stuff.  If you really have talent, the good reviews will outweigh the bad ones.  If they don't, then figure out why as opposed to being a fool who goes after those that don't care for you.  You might not like the reaction you get.

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