Saturday, 5 June 2010
Funnily enough, most of the reviews I read are of books I'm already familiar with, and usually to see if I agree or not with the reviewer's take on the book. I'm not talking about prerelease blurbs, but actual reviews by readers. Prerelease blurbs are designed to excite a reader into parting with the readies, but what of the kind of reviews we see on online sites like Amazon and the such?
Have you ever read reviews on any of those sites and thought, yep, I'm gonna get that one? Usually, I've already looked for said book, then taken a glance at the reviews to see what people are saying, but would never allow them to influence my decision to purchase or not.
What I've noticed on such sites is a growing trend whereby people feel the need to diss an author's work, not only that, but to insult readers who've actually enjoyed the book as well. I'm not getting into that debate, however I think there should be some sort of control in place to discard obvious attempts to cast disrepute on people's work. If they don't like the book, that's fine. Horses for Courses. Swings and Roundabouts. And all that jazz. But as long as the review is constructive, then good. We all like constructive criticism. However, no one likes childish, vitriolic ranting that serves no purpose to anyone. These should be struck from the sites. OK, we have 'free speech' and I'm all for people having their voices heard, but not when it's obviously spiteful. If I read a book I don't enjoy, I just put it aside and pick up something I do.
I recently read that Stuart Neville (Ghosts of Belfast (UK), The Twelve (USA)) uncovered a plot to cast aspersions on his book by a serial poster on Amazon, using different log on names etc to post multiple one and two star reviews. The general consensus was that said reviewer was a frustrated, unpublished author who thought that by pulling down Stuart's success then they'd upped their own little ego in their own sad little world. Well, you ask me, the net is full of similar little people. I only hope that they don't influence prospective readers because some great books by fabulous authors have been severely shot down by some of the nay sayers. But, if you're like me, it won't.
I won't mention names, but I've found similar attacks on my books. One 'reviewer' said they gave up on Dead Men's Dust at page seven, yet went on to say that they didn't like the book (doesn't make sense). Some 'bad reviewers' for want of a better term have even banded together to back each others findings up and cast aspersions on me as an author and on people who have favourably reviewed the book. One even went as far as playing detective to hunt down as to whether I had connections to the 'good reviews'. For the record, Col Bury is a friend NOW. He wasn't when he first heard about me and my first book, and he read and subsequently wrote his review without having met me before we became friends. We became friends because he did like the book and through our mutual love of the crime thriller genre. The said reviewer now trumpets that he was right because Col now co-edits TKnC with me, and he keeps returning to add comments to other bad reviews to get himself another tick in the box. OK, he doesn't like my writing. So all I'll say to him is to move on and concentrate on someone he does, and let people enjoy the books who do so. Another reviewer gave JAW a stinking review. Fair enough. But then we have to believe that she also went out and bought and subsequently read and hated SAB too? I don't think so. Give over. I get from the review that she prefers another big name thriller writer and that's fine by me, but at least get the writer's name right. Hint: there's no 'S' at the end of his name. By the way, said big name thriller writer is a great guy, and a great writer, who would not appreciate the fact I'm being attacked in his name, I'm pretty sure about that.
I'm a pragmatist.
Some people will love my books. Some will despise them. I write for the prior category. So, when I read the 'bad review rants' I just chuckle to myself. I'm not trying to please them, so I get over it. I get some amazing and genuine feedback from people who do like the books, and one of those kind of messages means a thousand times more to me than some little pulpit basher venting steam.
Now then, before you think I'm on a rant, I'm not. I'm getting to the fun part.
I'm attending Thrillerfest V in July, and attending the awards ceremony as Dead Men's Dust has been shortlisted (by some of the most knowledgeable thriller afficionadoes in the world including a certain big name thriller writer whose name doesn't end in 'S') for the 2009 debut thriller award (Matt thumbs his nose at the bad reviewers ;-0 ). But, that's not all. A coveted prize at the awards ceremony is for the 'Worst Review of the Year!'; it's great fun and I'd like to enter. Now, the only thing is I can't be objective anymore and would like to hear what you think between my top two choices.
1. 'MR Hilton. I gave up on your book at page 65. Whatever gave you the impression you could write? regrettably Mrs...........'
2. 'This book should be promoted by Amazon as 'How to write rubbish and get paid for it". This dreck is so bad that I actually checked the first page to make sure that the first sentence wasn't 'It was a dark and stormy night...'
Answers in the comments box please...
Also, if you'd like to, let us know some of the humorous bad reviews you've had.