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Why Indie Authors Should Give Honest Reviews as Readers

Undaunted by the hostile response to a 2* star review that she’d left on Amazon, indie author Karen Myers asserts her right to post honest reviews of self-published books – and she invites you to join the debate. 

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The independent publishing scene is characterized by an unusual sense of camaraderie among its participants. Writers share sales numbers, how-to tips for publishing and distribution, and all sorts of information.

I’m quite astonished by the degree of professionalism I encounter. In particular, there is a general desire to be helpful, coupled with a determination not to take things personally, not to react defensively to suggestions and advice. There’s a real sense of “we’re all in this together,” especially in these early stages of indie writing and self-publishing.

In fact this seems so normal to me now that it’s easy to forget that it’s not like that everywhere.

Recently I read a mediocre book and was moved to write a negative (2-star) review about it on Amazon, where I purchased it. I wrote about what happened on the ALLi membership Facebook page, and a very interesting discussion ensued.

Why I Wrote A 2* Review

To begin with, it’s clear that many of us feel badly for other independent authors who may not have produced gems (in our opinion) or even particularly competent work. Though everyone advises you to read good examples of writing in order to learn, I find that being able to see where something went wrong from a not-so-great writer is also valuable, helping me avoid pitfalls I might not otherwise have noticed.

Many of the folks in the discussion mentioned that if they couldn’t say something good about a book (and give it 3-5 Amazon stars), they would prefer to just pass over it in silence, not wanting (I suppose) to break someone else’s rice bowl.

I do sympathize with this point of view and do the same for what I consider to be “forgivable” offences, the small formatting, editing, plot hole issues that fall into the “there but for the grace of God go I” categories. I don’t see any need to dwell on much of that in the form of reviews destined to be read primarily by readers.

But when I come across books where the author doesn’t even try, where there are gaping plot problems, historical bloopers, and a general air of “it’s good enough for my dumb readers,” then I object both as a reader and as another independent writer. So this time I wrote a 2-star review detailing the issues, for the benefit of other readers.

This is not without its perils, however. I don’t maintain a sock-puppet ID on Amazon for this purpose, so I used my real name. It didn’t occur to me until too late that that could leave me open to retaliation. I shrugged it off, but it’s happened before to others, and many of the folks in the discussion mentioned that this possibility intimidated them from giving negative reviews.

The Hostile Response

On this occasion, my review (one of 200 of this book) triggered a tribe of responders, who replied so quickly that they must have been alerted by the author. They promptly posted comments which, without rebutting any of my review’s criticisms, basically maintained that “they loved the book and who cares about all those silly details anyway and I was a bad person, etc.” The speed of the response was chilling, and the attempt to intimidate was clear. I didn’t mention that I was a writer (thank goodness) and they have yet to launch a retaliatory strike, but that could happen – clearly the will is there, and the lack of judgment.

Why shouldn’t writers give honest reviews from the point of view of other readers? Why should they be held hostage to the threat of retaliation if their reviews are substantive and not hostile? Do we all need to cultivate sock puppet IDS  or else hold our tongues? Aren’t you sometimes moved by a sort of duty to tell the potential readership about real stinkers, even if they are also independent authors, even if life is too short to do it very often? Or what’s our integrity worth?

No wonder there’s such rampant “review inflation” on sites like Amazon, and I don’t like contributing to that. Personally, I don’t intimidate easily.

What do you think?

 

 

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    I think the real question is “how did you manage to finish a 2* book?” Seriously, though, there are so many independent authors that want and need reviews that I’ve pretty much all but stopped reading anything that I wasn’t going to enjoy. There just isn’t the time for it. Initially, I had reserved my reviews for Amazon to the 3-5 group and posted ALL reviews on my site (even the 1s and 2s). But life is short and I just don’t have time to read a 2* book anymore.

    Generally, my approach is to simply let the author know that I couldn’t finish their book, and therefore didn’t think it was fair to take the time to post a review. Then I leave it open for them to ask for specific feedback about what I thought was wrong with their book. Guess what – no one has yet asked to receive additional feedback. And that’s probably one reason they write at a 1-2 star level.

    And here’s something that a few indie authors need to realize – the whole point of a review is to point potential readers in your direction, and not just to explicitly generate sales. If you want people to read your book and rate it highly, then write well. Reviewers can do a disservice to readers and writers by over-rating mediocre books. So, I’m fine with limiting my ratings to generally good and up, but it is only because I don’t have the time to read bad novels.

    Mind if I pose a counter question? As a reviewer I feel obligated to give a “full” review – usually a few hundred words. Another reason I only give 3-5 stars is because, if I don’t like the book, I just don’t feel like spending the time writing anything worth reading about it. Is it okay as a reviewer to just leave a simple “I didn’t like it, couldn’t finish it”?

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  17. A.S. Washington May 12, 2014 at 7:25 pm #

    I think you are truly correct in this. If you believe a book deserves 1 or 2 star then you should give it.

    Traditionally published authors have to endure them, so why shouldn’t self published/indie authors have to endure them. I’m all for the integrity of reviews and will not swap 5 star reviews for the sake of having them. There are authors that will ask for them. I’d much rather have one that isn’t favorable from the person who read my book than a favorable one that’s a lie, or from someone who hasn’t read it at all.

    What’s important is the craft of writing and if you’re writing for an audience, you must satisfy them. Whether I’m an an author or not, the moment I pick up your book to read it I become part of that audience. I have a right to my honest opinion and refuse to blow smoke up your back side to make you feel good about your crap.

    Those who would send people out to intimidate or write bad reviews for you are hacks. They want their friends and family to inflate their egos about their crap prose to make them feel good. They are weak and without integrity.

    Great post!

  18. david james April 1, 2014 at 8:56 am #

    We need to make a distinction between ‘bad’ and ‘negative’ reviews. A ‘bad’ review to me is one that doesn’t give a clue about the quality of the book. The reviewer is to blame. A ‘negative’ review may well be a good review in that it points to major flaws.

  19. John Lynch March 5, 2014 at 8:18 pm #

    What do I think? I’ll tell you what I think. I don’t give negative reviews. Ever. I don’t give false reviews–if I can’t give a book at least four stars, I don’t review it. Why? Well, do you know, I started to say why and as I typed I realised I was inviting a host of one star reviews from people who would be hurt by what I had to say. So I deleted it and I will simply repeat: if I can’t give at least four stars, I don’t review. If I have the opportunity to email someone privately and say, ‘Look, I couldn’t give you at least four stars because of this, and this, and this, and if you work on those things you could be a great writer,’ I will do it. But never in public. And something to remember: the more someone assures you s/he wants and can take honest criticism, the less true that is.

  20. Francine Howarth October 8, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

    KARMA! “Do unto others as you would have them do unto to you”. Everyone’s a critic, but sometimes critical comments are best not voiced in a public arena. One can hide behind a pseudonymous ID at Amazon et al, but one cannot lose the unique “writer Voice” from within: it is as much a fingerprint as a finger smudge on a window pane. If “honest reviews” are the motto then post them by the name known to fellow writers. That’s Honesty, true honesty. I’ll not hide under a false ID I post reviews as (moi) known to the book world at large. What kind of person purchases a book of which they don’t read the blurb nor the sample provided at a online book outlet. A sample instantly reveals the quality of a book, and books are a very personal choice matter: one wo/man’s meat, another’s poison. The difference with a gadget is that you can’t read a blurb or sample the product before use, hence a review is useful in terms of battery length/speed/available apps etc., because it all comes down to user choice and user operation plus caveat emptor of you see, you decide, you buy. Would you return to a super market/book store and pin a critical or gushing review to the book shelf where you purchased a book? With online book stores a platforms are provided for reviews, something readers have never had before, but it does seem as though there are more dissatisfied readers than satisfied ones on many forums. If that is so who is to blame? The author or the reader? The average person wouldn’t purchase a blemished/bruised apple, so why purchase a book that isn’t to that person’s tastes? People do write disparaging reviews veiled as “honest reviews” but in essence those kinds of reviews reveal far more about the reviewer than they ever do the author. In most cases negative reviews backfire on the poster because they not only up the ranking of the book they wish to discredit, they draw attention to self. But perhaps that is the object of the exercise: who knows…

  21. J. D. Brink October 8, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

    At the risk of being a “motor-mouth” let me add one more thing:

    The last aspect of this I’d like to mention is the writers’ arms race. Some folks seem to have a fleet of friends and/or aliases that instantly bulk up their work with 5-star reviews, thus giving them an edge on sales and attracting readers. At least until enough people read it to publicly disagree, which we have just said we don’t want to do for fear of retaliation, thus forcing us to either bulk up with fake and/or paid for reviews too or be left behind. Having few or no reviews makes your work look ignored by readers and “If no one else is reading their stuff there must be a reason.” My books, for example, have virtually no reviews because I don’t solicit them (and they haven’t been up very long, or at least I hope that’s why). As a result, I seem largely ignored, and maybe I therefore am ignored by some potential readers. So I face the same dilemma we all do: join the arms race, buy some nukes, or hope I can survive without them. I choose to survive without them and just hope that my tiny, honest island republic still gets invited to the UN someday.

    • Francine Howarth October 8, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

      Books will sell on own merit despite reams of gushing reviews or negatives. A book can reach the heady heights of ~1 -25 on luvvie reviews and then plummet to the depths when the luvvie reviewers run out, unless a luvvie general public takes up the slack. Rubbish books will bin themselves: eventually.

      • Francine Howarth October 8, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

        I meant to say stick with being an island, which is what I do. My close friends and family have been banned from posting reviews simply because I want to succeed on my own merit as a self-published author. I’ve been the route of mainstream publishing and decided I’d had enough of doing my own marketing for some other bugger to cream the profits: agent/publisher. I’m now going it alone as author-cum-publisher.

  22. J. D. Brink October 8, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

    Karen, thanks for standing up to them! I had a very similar situation that I’d like to relay…

    I also read an indie author’s stuff that was at best 3-star work but was hesitant to leave a review for the very reason you mention: retaliation. It was quite obvious he had a host of friends come on and rave about how wonderful his books are (several 5-star praises that all came out the same day the book was published). Those same friends were also obviously called upon to refute and bully anyone who gave his work less than 4 stars. EVERY review that was 1-3 stars was commented on by various people (or aliases, as the case may be) who insulted that reviewer’s opinions and intelligence and badgered them for daring to think it was anything short of Pulitzer material. (How unprofessional and insecure can a writer be??)

    This made me want to review the book even more, of course, but since I also don’t have a puppet identity and I have books of my own on there, I was sure I’d have been launched against by his fleet of friends with several 1-stars on my own stuff. So I have yet to post my already written and saved review. Which, by the way, I was going to “round down to 2 stars” for exactly the reason above – because he felt the need to attack honest reviews of his work.

    I have also participated in a review swap with another author, in which I felt the need to say nicer things than I may have liked in order to prevent retaliation there too. I also noticed that while his book was much longer than mine and took more time for me to read, while mine was very short, my review went up first; no doubt him waiting to see how nice I was before writing a review of my work. We both gave the other 4 stars, though whether that was honest coincidence or careful politics is up for debate.

  23. Misha Burnett August 11, 2013 at 9:18 pm #

    I also have too little time to read books that I don’t enjoy. I tend to leave three star and up reviews, mostly because if I don’t think a book deserves that many I won’t finish it, and I won’t review a book that I don’t finish.

  24. Carol Lyn July 29, 2013 at 11:46 pm #

    Aren’t Amazon reviews intended to assist potential readers/buyers of books? Taking into consideration that readers tastes vary significantly but supposing that we’re browsing under appropriate genre/subject. As a reader, I want to know if a book is loaded with spelling errors, typos, the whole lot – especially if I’m ordering a print copy. It’s not fair to other writers that bothered to proof and edit their manuscript that the one and two star ratings are automatically thrown out because everyone needs to play nice. If your serious about writing and selling your work to the public, get it right. It’s a product.

    I BETA read a book for someone on Goodreads earlier this year. She told me to ignore typos etc because she had a great editor. I did tell her about some things, one in particular that a character name switched back and forth throughout the entire book. I noticed it was published recently and I looked at the free sample. She corrected a few but many of the mistakes I specifically mentioned to her are still there (that NAME). I won’t review her book but I’ll never BETA read again. This kind of behavior puts black marks on self publishing.

    • Morag April 4, 2015 at 7:53 am #

      Agree with your comment.

      Must point out an error in – ” If your serious about writing and selling your work to the public, get it right. It’s a product.”

      It should be “If you’re……”

      Commas missing in –

      “She told me to ignore typos etc (comma goes here) because she had a great editor.”

      “She corrected a few (comma goes here) but many of the mistakes I specifically mentioned to her are still there (that NAME).”

      We must uphold standards ourselves, you know.

  25. Tahlia Newland July 29, 2013 at 7:00 am #

    I’m totally with you on this and have written many posts on my blog not just about why authors should write reviews, (we owe it to readers to help them sort out the wheat from the chaff) but also why they should publish low starred ones (3 & up I consider good BTW) I also write a lot of posts on how to review in such a way as to be very fair to the author, and I believe that a review that examines matters of craftsmanship in as objective a way as possible would be accepted by most authors as valid. Some authors, however, could be vindictive and that’s why I congratulate you and other authors who so this because it takes courage to open yourself up to possible abuse.

    The only time I don’t publish a less than 3 star review is if the book has no reviews already, but I do let the author know. I would hate to think I had a great book when really it’s not very good, but those who know (ie other authors), aren’t telling me. That isn’t helpful at all. The truth may be painful, but its best in the end.

    I wonder, was it an historical fiction review? Unfortunately, there are a band of bullies active in that genre.

  26. Karen Myers July 24, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

    If you were a buyer of widgets and some of the widgets you bought were poor, wouldn’t you want to tell other potential buyers about your poor widget experience, sometimes? I imagine the makers of those widgets aren’t pleased when you do. And yet, your solidarity is with the buyers of the widgets, not their makers.

    Which is how it should be, in my opinion.

    After all, you buy a lot more books than you write.

  27. Lorilyn Roberts July 24, 2013 at 6:41 am #

    I don’t post negative reviews. If I can’t give a book five stars, I don’t review it. For one thing, if it’s not even a four-star book, I wouldn’t make it past the first page. I am too busy to read poor books.

    If I was motivated, like I knew the author, i would write him or her a personal note with suggestions on how to make the book better, particularly if I had been asked or offered to review it. I have done this several times in the past. The idea here is help the author. There is nothing helpful about writing negative reviews. There are better ways to help authors who need help than tearing apart their writing in the public arena.

    • Jessica Bell July 24, 2013 at 10:28 am #

      I find it interesting that you think a four-star rating means it’s a poor book. I’d really like to know your reasoning for this. I’m not criticizing here, I’m honestly just curious.

  28. Pete Morin July 24, 2013 at 1:11 am #

    I volunteered to review a SP novel once – the subject matter was right up my alley, involving music and legal disputes. The author was not a lawyer.

    After reading a few chapters, it quickly became obvious that the author’s ignorance of legal matters rendered the book nonsensical to me. I sent a private message to the author (a mature man about my age) and explained in some detail where the problems were and how he might go about fixing them.

    You’d think I’d called his mother a whore.

    No more.

    • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt November 14, 2013 at 5:27 pm #

      That writer was, well, no name-calling, but you offered gold and had it tossed back in your face.

      When you say ‘no more,’ I am saddened – loss of a huge resource.

      You can study up all you can, and consult the lawyers you know or can meet, and STILL not end up with the right information – because the records of certain trials are sealed, the trials themselves are closed, and nobody writes about the nitty gritty.

      Specifically, in my case, child custody in celebrity cases.

      We see outcomes: kids spend time with each parent, yanked all over the world. But we don’t see the specifics – so it is very hard to write them. The law is vast, and the participants cagey, for very good reasons.

      I would appreciate any suggestions. Thanks!

  29. Jessica Bell July 23, 2013 at 8:40 pm #

    This is an excellent comment, and I agree wholeheartedly!

  30. Debbie Young July 23, 2013 at 7:56 pm #

    Thank you, Maggie, for that long, thoughtful and honest response – and you’ve raised a very valid point about authors being simply unable to revert to being “just” a reader.

    Studying English Literature for three years at university had a similar effect on me. For a whole year after I graduated, I read nothing but trashy magazines, until my brain had reset itself to normal reader mode, rather than “read this book by the end of the week, make notes and then write an essay” mode.

    Similarly, being an author heightens one’s sensitivity to many mistakes that would pass non-author readers by unnoticed. And just as well it does, or we’d find it even more difficult to hone our work for publication!

    • Pete Morin July 23, 2013 at 8:47 pm #

      I don’t think there’s a whit of difference between an author’s opinion on the quality of a particular book and any other avid reader of fiction. I don’t think you have to author a novel to understand pacing, characterization, plotting, etc. or how each of these elements contributes to your reading experience.

      I know too many pure readers who could mop the floor with me on any number of literary topics. You can find most of them gathered together in one of those things called “reading groups.”

      • Karen Myers July 23, 2013 at 9:24 pm #

        Agreed. It’s just that no one can retaliate in any meaningful way against non-writer readers. That’s the big question, isn’t it?

        It’s disheartening how many writers have said “would never give less than three stars” either out of general principles of solidarity or out of practical considerations about retaliation.

        I think of the former as misplaced kindness and fellow feeling, esp. when practiced on strangers (yes, avoiding pain for your friends might take a higher priority), and the latter as … well, I find I don’t want to say, exactly, for fear of offense.

        I’ll leave it as a personal statement about myself: I don’t want to think of myself as someone who is afraid to be honest (without being cruel) when venturing a professional opinion (as a reader). And I don’t want to think of myself as someone who is intimidated into looking the other way when I feel moved to voice an honest opinion. Otherwise I can’t look myself in the mirror.

        I know the sane money is on “keep your mouth shut, no one needs your opinions and it can hurt your sales.” But I’m too stubborn to be completely commercial about it. My loss, no doubt, but I’ve never been very good about being circumspect.

      • Debbie Young July 24, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

        I’m not claiming that authors have superior critical powers or intellect, Pete – just heightened sensitivity to simple errors like typos and bad grammar, because they know what it would feel like to find those in their own work!

      • Tahlia Newland July 29, 2013 at 7:05 am #

        The big things like plot, characterisation & dialogue are easy for anyone to evaluate, but the quality of prose is not so easy to gauge and even many authors don’t know what makes good prose.

  31. Larisa Michel July 23, 2013 at 5:36 pm #

    In my opinion, this discussion is not very productive. While I agree that if one wants to post a negative review, he/she should be able to do so freely, I don’t understand what the author’s problem is? She is complaining about what? That someone is preventing her from posting a review?

    Nope, the review she wanted to post was posted on Amazon with no problem. What is the problem then? That she got some response comments stating that other readers liked the book just fine and these comment didn’t even engage her directly. And because of that they are bad people who ganged up on her??? Huh?

    Conclusion: seems like the author of this article likes to criticize others, but has a very hard time receiving any criticism herself.

    Well, wise men would say that you can choose your actions but you cannot choose their consequences. You choose to post a bad review, live with the possibility that plenty of others may not agree with you.

    Last but not least, the author of this article doesn’t provide any references or links to the book in question, nor to her review, so we could judge for ourselves whether the book is really that poorly written, or it’s just her subjective opinion. If the book has 200 reviews, it stands to reason that enough people liked the book enough to read and review it. So, we just have the author’s word that the book was bad, and no proof whatsoever. To me, this is very unprofessional and seems like venting of a wounded ego, not a productive discussion.

    P.S. I understand that the author of this article is Karen Myers. I looked up her books on Amazon and they have very few reviews: anywhere from a few, to none. The book she wrote a negative review for had 200 by her own admission. Kinda makes you wonder, right?

    • Karen Myers July 23, 2013 at 6:06 pm #

      I chose not to post the links to the book or the review because I didn’t feel like making a mountain out of a molehill by encouraging “my tribe” to pile on, nor do I think that would be fair to that author.

      The point isn’t whether the book was wretched or my review accurate or not or refutable or not (though none of it was refuted). The point is that an honest review attracted an immediate defensive reaction by a group of people somehow associated with the author. The purpose of that reaction was to intimidate honest reviews that were less than 3 stars. That is, in my opinion, a BAD THING.

      Certainly many writers have said that they are intimidated from writing honest negative reviews for fear of retaliation by dishonest negative reviews, so this method of intimidation clearly works. And that’s a BAD THING, too.

      Doesn’t matter how long I’ve been writing, how many reviews I have, or anything else. Why should it? This author’s no competitor of mine, we’re not even in related genres. And the fact that she has a lot of favorable reviews is also irrelevant. Mine was still an honest review. Ad hominem remarks are beside the point.

    • Debbie Young July 23, 2013 at 7:48 pm #

      As the editor of the ALLi blog, I’d like to step in here for a moment to make a policy statement:

      When I asked Karen to write this post, I did not for a moment consider including a specific link to the review or the book in question. My intention was not to set up a judge and jury on the rights or wrongs of this particular book and review, or to make personal remarks against any writer or reviewer, but to give indie authors the opportunity to compare notes constructively on their preferred strategy for reviewing each others’ books.

    • Pete Morin July 23, 2013 at 7:51 pm #

      Do you feel that it’s okay for an author to exhort her fans to trash a negative review?

      • Karen Myers July 23, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

        Not if it’s an honest review, even if it’s a mistake (“I didn’t realize it was a short story not a novel”).

        And if it’s patently dishonest, then the author would be better served with a professional explanation and dismissal. If it’s abusive, time to call in the moderators.

        Witch hunts are never a good idea. See for reference the PC scandals going on at SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America).

        • Pete Morin July 24, 2013 at 1:06 am #

          I was interested in your critic’s opinion, Karen. I have an idea what her response would be.

    • gigantic September 10, 2016 at 6:57 am #

      Famous last words, I suppose. We’ll see what happens if and when it does.

  32. Renee Leduc July 23, 2013 at 3:28 pm #

    I think you are absolutely right. First, there are far too many bad ( in my humble opinion, well, not so humble: I have a Ph.D. in letters) being published. Second, if you are lucky enough to get reviewed, you should welcome criticism which could help you to improve your writing.

  33. Linda Bahnan July 23, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

    This is the best discussion I’ve read on this site. I wish I knew what the answer was. I’ve read a hundred indiepub books and have not been able to give more than three stars to 96 of them so, of course, I don’t post them. I’m afraid of reciprocity. I do write to the author, though, with my analysis, for what it’s worth. Never get a word of thanks.

    • Madeline Stringer July 24, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

      That’s a great thing to do! I’d love that sort of feedback, but am getting a lot of silence, even from my friends… Didn’t think it was That bad!

    • Kelli November 19, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

      I’m surprised you haven’t gotten a word of thanks. That is a wonderful way to handle things and as an author I would appreciate the words of advice so that my following works could improve.

    • Karen Myers April 2, 2015 at 9:07 pm #

      I always thank anyone who emails me, with any sort of remark about a book, good or bad.

      For quite a while, I had an arrangement — anyone who can find five typos gets a free book of their choice. I don’t announce that anymore (it seems unprofessional) but I still abide by it.

  34. Naomi Blackburn July 23, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

    While I agree with Ms. Myers premise that an author should give an honest review to a book-no matter the rating, I have worked with too many authors who have been on the receiving end of backlash from authors who couldn’t handle a criticism of their works and have either started a campaign to get back at the reviewer or sent his/her posse after the reviewer. Many of these authors now shy away from reviewing other authors’ works. I ended up writing a post for my blog that discussed other ways to partner with other authors instead of inflating book reviews with that golden 5 star rating. As a top Goodreads reviewer, most of us can spot an author review from a mile away and very little credibility is given to them as they are seen as a “quid pro quo”.

    Naomi Blackburn
    authorceo.com

  35. SJ Hailey July 23, 2013 at 1:55 pm #

    Hi. No I agree with you. Once the book is out there, you leave it to fly or die.
    I think it encourages you to ensure your work is the best it can be.
    I have received reviews with various stars.
    I responded to one, but learnt my lesson and never repeated what I thought was just a nice response. I simply said, ‘Sorry you didn’t like the book.’
    Well I got nuked by a bunch of people in the comments. It was quite hurtful and they attacked other reviewers. Amazon actually removed some of the comments.(after I highlighted the issue)
    It was also extremely quick, the people said they were from authors behaving badly and boasted almost. They also hit the like yes or no buttons for other reviews, which altered the order they appeared on amazon.com. This affected my sales for weeks.
    I have read a book recently, written by a journalist. I decided not to give it a review, despite some of the technical aspects of the story being dubious, or just wrong.
    The reason, I use my real name on my reviews. I do not want to be targeted again.

  36. Rayjoesbury July 23, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

    I used to be a driving instructor and if my pupils made a mistake they would normally apologise, I would always say to them this little adage ‘you learn from mistakes far more than you learn from doing things right so don’t apologise.’ Surely a negative response is something we can learn from and in the early days of writing we should welcome them, they can only make us better writers in the long run. I have my novel ‘Deadly Justice?’ On Kindle and would love a comment of any kind, at least I would know whether I’m on the right track.

    • David James December 31, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

      If you’re on Kindle you’re on a track at least; that is it could be ‘the right track’ but who know what is ‘right.’ On another allied point I just wonder if putting a book on Kindle purely for feedback is the most sensible thing. I mean, if you don’t feel sure it’s worth reading yourself and are asking for comment, rather than going proudly where no man’s been before, isn’t it a tad pusillanimous?

  37. Pete Morin July 23, 2013 at 1:14 pm #

    Well… first, it would be nice if Amazon would clearly stake out its position on authors reviewing other authors, which they have failed to do – but it does seem to be the rule that an author is not to negatively review another book in his genre.

    Aside from that, Karen, you are lucky not to have (yet) had to deal with retaliation.

    As much as I appreciate the camaraderie and collegiality of other mature, level-headed writers, there is a very significant element of loons who are simply not equipped to handle criticism. And for many of them, the one thing they don’t lack is the skill to manipulate social media.

    No thanks. Yes, posting an honest review is the right thing to do. We SHOULD be able to do that without fear of vengeance. I’m taking the chicken route. I don’t feel great about it, but life’s too short.

    • Karen Myers July 23, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

      Luckily this book wasn’t in my genre (which is fantasy). It was an historical romance, an area prone to this sort of thing (and which I am more forgiving of, accordingly). If her tribe does identify and come after me, I plan to not only take the case to Amazon but also publicize it. After all, I wasn’t personal in the review and gave an explicit list, and no one has refuted anything on the list, so I don’t feel I’ve done anything wrong. And all publicity is good (I hope).

      Famous last words, I suppose. We’ll see what happens if and when it does.

  38. Jessica Bell July 23, 2013 at 11:54 am #

    Just because one doesn’t like to post negative reviews, doesn’t mean that they are posting good reviews for bad books. I’m not going to review a book I don’t like. If a book deserves 3 stars and up, I’ll review it. There are plenty of people out there posting critical reviews, such as people whose JOB it is to review books. But as AUTHORS, I don’t think we should, (to quote a commenter on my blog) “shit where we eat”. 🙂

  39. Stepheny Houghtlin July 23, 2013 at 11:43 am #

    As the Indie world of publishing continues to garner respect, it is important that author’s work is evaluated, discouraging those with inferior effort. Calling attention to failed efforts increases the value of those who are taking the time to do it right.

    • David James December 31, 2013 at 3:29 pm #

      Spot on, Stepheny. One of my writing tutors, the late Bill Stanton, once said that anyone who can be discouraged should be discouraged. This struck me as being a bit harsh in an area where apprentice writers are trying to learn their trade, but I see the point of it. What Bill wanted to discourage was not writers but wannabes who thought ‘being a published writer’ was the be-all-and-end all.

  40. Janna Gray July 23, 2013 at 10:12 am #

    I agree! Reviews should be honest in a constructive way. A badly written book with howling great plot glitches, dodgy characterisation and poor grammar is an insult to readers. To praise shoddy work devalues one’s credibility as a writer and lover of books.
    Keep up the good work Karen Meyers!

    • David James December 31, 2013 at 3:23 pm #

      Couldn’t agree more. One thing worse than poor writing is shoddy reviewing – all gush and mush, beginning ‘Wow!’ and ending ‘Enjoy! Enjoy!’

  41. David Chase July 23, 2013 at 10:10 am #

    It’s not just books. I criticized a local theater company in my newspaper column. They’d had a particularly bad season – a poor choice of shows and really bad productions, in my opinion. The mail that came in to the paper for weeks afterwards set records. They all wanted me fired and silenced. No one should criticize art. The fact that it was happening was the important thing, not whether it was any good. I was hated for pointing out poor performances and poor productions. No one ever contradicted me by claiming they were good.

    No purpose is served by writing good reviews of bad work. Future readers or customers will always feel cheated if they’ve been sucked in. Bad reviews may be unpleasant but untruthful and misleading good reviews only hurt in the long run.

  42. Alison Jack July 23, 2013 at 9:49 am #

    I think you’re perfectly right to criticise a bad book. Up until recently I was guilty of only reviewing books I enjoyed, then a friend pointed out this rather devalues my credibility as a book reviewer. If potential readers lose faith in book reviews then that doesn’t help anyone, be they potential readers or authors (or both), so from now on I’ve decided to harden my heart and honestly review everything I read.

  43. Jessica Bell July 23, 2013 at 9:32 am #

    I wrote a post about this on my own blog yesterday, except I have the opposite opinion to you. 🙂 It’s our choice what opinions we like to make public, and I personally don’t think posting negative reviews, as an AUTHOR, is good practice. But that’s just MY opinion, and it’s all just healthy discussion, right? If you’re interested, I’d love for you reading my post from yesterday to understand my reasoning: http://thealliterativeallomorph.blogspot.gr/2013/07/should-authors-post-negative-reviews.html

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