Friday, February 17, 2012

Wanda's world wiews and wamblings

Wanda's world wiews and wamblings

Wanda's world wiews and wamblings.
So today it's all about us, the reviewers.  Hold on to your hats, this is going to put a few things out in the open that is a big no, no on Facebook.
We all work with these authors 24/7, sometimes 29/7 and then some.  We love them and they love us, we love reading and they love writing.  Good, right?  NO!!!!!
I know of this I am as guilty as sin, especially in the beginning, way back when, when I started this I felt so grateful towards the kindness of an author for giving me a book for free that I would give them a way higher rating that I in reality thought their book deserved.  I wanted to please them, but it only got worse. 
I got to know some of the authors and I found them to be great human beings and I could not give a low rating to such an awesome person!  I grew out of that to a degree.  Not completely but a bit. So the other day I was reading a review done on a book I reviewed way back when, and this reviewer very nicely stated what the shortcomings of the book were and what bothered her as a reviewer.  It got me thinking.  Are we creating a culture of coddling professional authors?
Because really, whether your indie published or mainstream published, this amount of talent is no longer on the level of creative writing 101.
The idea that we might be coddling people because they are nice and because we don’t want to hurt their feelings is getting to me.  I feel we are doing the authors and us as reviewers a great disservice.  These are professional people, grownups who, if and when they make it big will have to face the same amount of critique thrown the way of Stephen King, Karen Rose etc. 
Here we are handling them as if we know nothing about writing, well….. NO.  We might not know anything about writing, but let me tell you what I think we all know something about.  Reading.  We are their target audience.  We are the people they need to please; we are the people in whose imagination their creation is coming to life.
So am I preaching unfair, unjust, unfounded criticism for the sake of critiquing?  No most assuredly not.  But if you find a book published with a host of spelling and grammar mistakes, let the author know. 
If you come upon a book where the jumps in logic is so fantastic that you need to go back three chapters to make sure you did not miss some link to get you from A to G, let the author know.  If the book is in anyway not suitable for a crossover group of people.  Let the author know.  And when you are reviewing the first book in a series, and the strong heroin is flat and breaks down into uncontrollable sobs at the first hint of trouble, let the author know.  They might not appreciate it, but if they learn from it, hone their craft - it is worth it. 
I seriously expect authors might be losing a bus load full of reviews because readers see all the five star reviews on a certain book and feel as if their own review might be perceived too harsh!  So authors stop chasing stars and listen.  Reviewers, our work is not only in pleasing the author, it is in informing the readers.  How do you get a balance?  I am still working on that. What I do know is this.  I would hate people reading my reviews and thinking - aah she is only saying that because…. I love reading, books and all things that go with it way too much to cheat us all by encouraging this culture of coddling grownups from the truth.  So will all my reviews be only a 3 star review in future?  Not at all, but it will contain some valid, constructive suggestions.
Well thats what I think in anyway.....

6 comments:

  1. Great blog post, getting it out there i think there can be if we are all honest a certain amount of i know the author i don't want to hurt their feelings. But that as you rightly said doesn't help anyone, i try to review my reviews and ask one question would i feel the same if i didn't know the author? I too feel that if there is a real problem with a book and i know the author i will tell them personally certain things can be overlooked, but criticism in the constructive sense is good, and can help everyone out. We all need feedback even the reviewers as long as it is not personal. But i agree we are working for authors and for the general reading public and finding a happy balance can be hard.

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    1. Yes Jenny, you are totally correct and I am so glad you brought it up, reviews can favour and harm to the same amount. As it should not be used to coddle and author so should it not be used to harm them. That is the side of this I forgot, shame. Lucky me, I am innocent in that.....

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  2. Jenny and I have discussed today that I need to put my big girl panties on and write reviews on the books I read. I hesitate to do so simply because I don't want to sound stupid or harsh. Thank you for sharing this, it has given me something to think about and given me the strength not to be so chicken.

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  3. Fantastic blog post Wanda! That needed to be said. I don't have faith in reviewers who always give books 5 stars. Not every book a person reads can always be a 5 star read all the time. So thank you for sharing your views on that. :D

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  4. Your absolutely right! I've got all these 5 star reviews and keep thinking it looks bad (not that I don't love the 5 star reviews. I'd be lying if I said otherwise) but even my attitude to reviews and ratings is clouded since joining this wonderful circle. My first rating and reviews on goodreads consisted of 3,4&5 star reviews (in truths the only book I ever disliked enough to rate lower than that would be Kidnapped, yea the classic by R L Stevenson. I HATED that book. I loves all the twilight books, but even rated we moon and BD 4 stars because I just didn't love them as much as the others. In fact most 2nd books in a series I end up rating lower because I don't enjoy them as much as the originals, I used to work more or less on a 5 if I couldn't live with out having read it, 4 if I would read it again and 3 if I enjoyed it but could just as easily have lives without it.
    But then I started questioning myself, I got 5 star after 5 star for Guardian, and I kept seeing 5 after 5 star and I think my review system has been tainted.
    But no more! Your right Wanda, I'm going to review as I think, which means don't expect too many 5 star revues from me any more. They should be reserved for the elite.
    I only recently commented about a 3.5star rating I got. not that there was a review so I had no idea about what her rating meant but I checked out her other ratings and it was actually above average. So even though comparatively it didn't look good. Relatively it was an excellent rating. But without the review there is no way to know.
    I think the reviews are more important than the star rating. Nobody is going to pay attention to a 1 star review that says. "it was shit" cause readers will look at it and go "you're a wanker"
    But I also hate the generalization that 5 star reviews are friends. I've heard that comment so often recently, but let's just look at my goodreads ratings (because the others are the9 same ratings and reviews reposted) there are 30 reviews there. 3 are 4 star and the others are all 5. But only 1 is from a friend. (well a few others I now consider friends, yourself included.) but the ratings and reviews there are all ligit. Even though a lot of them are from goodreads friends, i really dont wven know who a lot of those people are.

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