Previously, I have covered reviews, getting your stars and blog tour etiquette. Today I want to talk to you about review attitude. Now, keep in mind that I am very calm and quite pensive as I write this. ;o)
I recently had my book reviewed by someone who actually made me laugh, not because there was anything funny with what she had to say, in fact it could be compared to giving my book to a giant, angry dog and letting him have a go at it. My concern here is that she took my book personally, and I have to admit I was a little at a loss by the reaction.
Let me explain…her reaction to the book would have been fitting if I had said “Here, this book will point out what you’ve missed out on in life, show you where you went wrong and tell you how you should live instead,” …which is not, in any way, what the book is about, but The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz http://www.amazon.ca/Four-Agreements-Toltec-Wisdom-Collection/dp/1878424580 might be a good book for her to consider.
In any case I did laugh at her outburst or rant, (more fitting than review) because I have developed a thick skin over the years to similar reactions. There are a few people in my entourage who have a tendency to act the same way. Sadly, it doesn’t excuse it or make it right.
Whether we realize it or not, everything we’ve gone through in life has served one purpose…to make us who we are today. Our reactions to what goes on around us are filtered and interpreted through our past experiences. So my guess is that if a wholesome family life is an irritant to you, you didn’t have one. So should your comments about it be to berate it and call it ‘not normal’? Then again, it’s a work of fiction…why would it provoke such a strong negative reaction…? And should the review be based on that?
I believe there has to be a balance between the emotional and objective sides in a review, and I hope a good measure of professionalism is always added.
Unfortunately , in this case the reviewer felt attacked by my characters’ vegetarianism, stating that they made her feel guilty for eating meat and even felt that the book was pushing the issue. I would also venture that she has never met any homeschooling families, because her reaction was far from the reality I have had the pleasure of encountering…and well, there could be more, but enough said.
The amazing thing about writing fiction is that you can write and create anything you want. If I am creating a culture where children are raised in test-tubes and sent off to hunt and provide for the adults, (in hopes that he/she survives to adulthood and become safe and provided for), then so be it. After that, if you don’t like it, you don’t like it. But don’t like what…one or all of the characters, the story line, the world created, the way it was written?
If I am writing a character I want you to be angry with or even hate, I hope that I won't be hearing "Loved so-and-so in that story".
Fortunately most comments on my book are very positive, so I am not berating the review or reviewer…just wondering about review standards. It’s like test driving a car…there is not one car today that will please everyone, but there has to be a set of standards to follow when evaluating cars. Why not books?
I was surprised by author Steve Piacente’s remark during a recent webinar, when he said he was very careful about who he sent his books to for review. I couldn't understand why he would say such a thing at the time.
In the past I have learned that someone who “hates” sci-fi should not review my book. I have also learned NOT to take for granted that the person asking to review had actually read the blurb and knows it's sci-fi…and now I have learned to read up on past posts and reviews by the one asking for a review copy, just to see what kind of reviewer I’m dealing with.