In the past few days on Twitter I have seen a great many readers and writers discussing book reviews. It did not go well, most of the time.
For instance, one author mentioned how they do not understand why people would leave a poor review based off, and I quote, “one sentence.” This reviewer also did not finish the book after said sentence, and gave it a one-star review. The reading community did not like his tweet.
I chimed in, like an idiot, trying to bolster him by saying that I would not care about a review if someone did not “put in the effort” to finish the book. I got several responses saying that a reader can do whatever they want after getting the book, and that reading for pleasure shouldn’t be an effort. Yeah, you’re right. My wording sucked a little. But the point remains: if you didn’t finish it, I, as an writer, do not trust your review.
I have finished so many books that I did not like. And I also do not leave poor reviews. I also have not gotten any poor reviews. So, I understand that my experience is different from others. But like it or not, I would never, ever leave a review for something I did not finish. So, I understand the original tweeters question. People also started taking issue with them “calling out” the poor reviewer, which I agree is uncouth, but is not what they intended to do, I think. Anyway, there was backlash.
Then I saw a few other tweets by other folks discussing the same thing. I stayed out of those threads, but read the comments. Some readers feel we should just not read our reviews, and many writers agree. I am in the opposite camp, which I guess is controversial?
My reviews-again, so far so good-have bolstered me. I couldn’t not read them. I need them on days when I feel like it’s all crap. Now, how will I feel when I inevitably get the bad one? I don’t know. But I hope that I will look at it with a critical eye. I hope that it will be constructive to me in some way. However, if I get something along the lines of “I read one poem, and hated it” I wouldn’t even factor that into my consciousness. First of all, I maintain that if you didn’t finish it, you’re not in the right position to be judging it. Secondly, obviously, I didn’t write it for YOU. And that’s ok.
Now, I really do not care what you do with my book. You bought it. It’s your property. Read it, pass it on, shelve it, throw it out, burn it…do what you will. I hope that if you like it, you leave a review. If you don’t, I hope you can just say “eh, not for me,” and move along. And if you must leave a one-star review, I’m just saying, it would be great if you could come at me with guns blazing, so that I can identify any actual problems in my work.
Or, y’know, whatever. You bought it.
So yes, I will read my reviews. No, I will not make the mistake of taking to Twitter about bad ones (or asking questions about them, as the case may be.) Others learned that lesson for me this week, some the hard way, and that sucks for them. Especially newbies like me…maybe we don’t know the decorum of reviews yet. Maybe we have no flipping idea how any of this works and are learning as we go.
Most people Google things to get answers, but trust me when I tell you, that is difficult in writing and publication. You really need to find stuff out firsthand. And connecting with writers on Twitter is a great way to do it. Unfortunately, you are occasionally attacked for a misstep, and your meaning gets lost in 280 characters. (Actually, this is just a general Twitter problem.)
Still…Twitter may bring occasional disagreements or trolls or whatever, but I made some great connections because of the Twitter Writing Community. I would have no illustrator without it, no publisher for my mini-chap, no book blogger reviews. It helps me sell my book, and connects me to people who are in different stages of their literary careers. Not to mention that there are publishers and editors and agents galore. It’s really very useful.
Just gotta watch your step.