Writers and reviewers

Dear reader,

There is apparently a never-ending battle between writers and the reviewers of their work. M. Edward McNally has written a wonderful piece about this, over on Indies Unlimited:

This is not the first time somebody here at Indies Unlimited has opined about the writer-reviewer relationship. Our illustrious Evil Mastermind, Stephen Tiberius Hise, did a not one, not two, but threepart investigation only last year. My weekly habit of ending columns with a real One-Star Review on a “classic” book is always intended as a friendly reminder that somebody out there hates every book ever written. But like the noted philosopher David Coverdale from the University of Whitesnake boldly proclaimed, here I go again.;-)

I’m wading into these treacherous waters one more time for the simple reason that the topic of reviews constantly comes up among any group of writers, whether we are on facebook, kindle boards, or whinging over the third pitcher of boysenberry kamikazes at the local watering hole. And though I’m much more a part of the writer tribe than the reviewer tribe (of course there is a ton of overlap to that Venn diagram), it doesn’t take much poking around at the accustomed places to find threads of reviewers exchanging horror stories about some writer losing their shitake mushrooms and going thermonuclear about a less-than-stellar star rating. Just so you writers know, some of those threads have names like “Why I will never review another Indie book ever again.”

In the interest of establishing accord and respect among our two peoples, keeping six-shooters in their holsters, and stopping anyone from getting defenestrated out of the saloon, I would like to humbly submit a few things for both sides of the lines to keep in mind. Things to think about as we glare at each other across a sun-bitten, dirt street; hands hovering over our peacemakers.

WRITERS: Reviewers do not work for you. Yes, reviewers write reviews for as many reasons as writers write books, and for some “helping” an author actually istheir primary motivation. But not for all that many. Far more just want to speak their own opinion about something they read, particularly in a Social Media environment where 90% of the food chain that keeps the ecosystem going is dependent on everybody sharing their opinion on everything.

If you want to go even further back into an era when book reviews were the purview of literary journals, newspapers and the like, the reviewer’s only responsibility was to READERS, never to WRITERS. Respected reviewers had a following because people trusted their opinions were honest, found their personal taste similar to the reviewer’s, or even, yes, liked the way the reviewers wrote reviews, and so they were “fans.” A lot of book bloggers today still cling nobly to that vestige of times-gone-by, and they only offer their reviews just to share with followers what they thought about any given title. The review-ee, the Writer, is no part of that equation, and nor should they be.

REVIEWERS: Writers do not work for you. By which I mean you, personally, VampirFan2784 or whatever your name is (I just made that name up, apologies if anybody is actually using it). There is a great, yawning chasm of difference between saying “I thought this book moved too slow,” and saying “This book moved too slow.” The first is inarguable: The action of the book moved slower than you would like, and so of course you didn’t like that, and no doubt “took off points” accordingly. The second means there is something wrong with books that move at a pace different than that which you personally happen to like, and presumably there is also something wrong with any other reviewer who liked the pacing of the book, as well as the writer who wrote it the way they did because they also like a particular pacing in a novel. It’s a fine distinction, perhaps, but that “I thought,” or “I feel,” or “for me as a reader,” makes all the difference in the world.

Of course, all that applies only to things that are really a matter of taste. If there are 2 or 3 typos on every page, there is no point in saying “I feel there are 2 or 3 typos on every page.”

Click here if you want to read the entire article – I think it’s worth it.

2 thoughts on “Writers and reviewers”

  1. I have totally fallen in love with your Hilly books. Please keep them coming. My all-time favorite authors ar Mercedes Lackey, David Edding, and Anne McCaffrey. With the loss of 2 of these great writers I was not sure that I would find another that I could really get into. Thank You and I look forward to reading more of your books

    1. Thank you very much for your kind words on Hilda’s books. The witch is very proud of them, and so am I. Hilda 10 is already in the works!

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