Tuesday, May 8, 2012
What's With the Snark?
Since Kindle has become such a big hit with readers, the number of reviews left on Amazon continues to soar, and sadly some of them are of no help whatsoever, instead are hurtful, snark-filled, and just plain mean. I wish I had escaped the wrath of the few who need to drop by and "bomb" my book site with unkind comments, but I simply read them and go on about my day, letting the majority of the favorable reviews speak in place of ones left by people who seem to adhere better to the saying, "misery loves company."
I scratch my head and wonder what reward snarky people get from being so nasty. Are they authors whose books aren't faring well and they want to make sure someone else fails, too? In some cases, yes. In fact, if you click on "read all the reviews" left by a particular person, you might see that they never have anything good to say. That's very sad, because as an author, I can empathize with having someone attack something you've worked months on, slaved over, and grown to love. I'm glad it hasn't happened often, though sadly these types of reviews are on the increase and every one of us can become a target.
No one likes a bad review, but as writer's we've learned through editing to take constructive criticism and learn from it. I don't think any of us expect untruths to be told on our behalf, because that defeats the purpose. If someone chooses to leave a "glowing" review of my books, I hope they've read and mean ever word they've written, and on the other hand, if you read the book and really didn't like it, then tell me what I could have done better not what you would have done. I think the most annoying review an author can receive is one based on unrealistic expectations. I received a summary of my sweet western romance...a review filled with disappointment that the book wasn't a rootin', tootin' shoot-em-up filled with more sex. Gee, how about reading the blurb that tells you what you can expect, then you won't end up looking so foolish. Want sex and guns...write your own novel.
How about this review I received on First Degree Innocence? It sits among some very favorable ones that seem to disagree...in this case appearing right after a review that claims RIVETING as the readers assessment:
first degree boredom
Very boring book, written without seriousness. The prison scenes do not seem real. The book is more like a romance ( a poor one at that) and is very highly predictable.
Well, all I can say in response is I'm well aware that my writing is never going to be everyone's cup of tea. As far as the prison scenes...I spent a year as a correctional officer, so I made the scenes as real as they were to me every day I walked the halls, tossed the cells, dealt with the inmates, and the officers who arrested them. Can't do more than that. As far as predictable...most publishing houses require a "happily ever after," so most books end in that manner. I've written a couple that use a different approach, and there are those who dislike the fact that there wasn't the standard HEA. Sometimes, you just can't win and you have to forget the negatives and concentrate on the positive.
How about these comments found on a fellow author's review?
The guy in this book really sucks. Maybe for a dose of reality a hero can have one bastard child for that one time he made a boo boo in all of his amorous activities. However, this guy has at least three bastard children and is pretty sure he has more but can't be certain bc the mothers never told him! To add...he had his mistress set up in the same room he puts his wife! uh... GROSS! Added to that he gave his original fiance false hopes for like almost 10 years. Sorry but in this case I gotta hate the playa and the game.
Sometimes I want to react and respond, but in this case I held my tongue. It doesn't help to engage people who set out on a mission to hurt and destroy. Too bad the reader didn't apply the era in which the book was written to her thought processes. She would have realized having mistresses and "bastard" children were the norm for the time and place. We do our research, but often, readers don't. Again...it's all about expectations, personal likes and dislikes.
I laugh when I see people give short stories or novellas bad marks because the reader wished the story had been longer. Doesn't that at least indicate they liked what they read and wanted more? If you think there wasn't room for character development, say so. If you think the plot lacked something, tell the author, but would it kill you in the process to say something favorable about the book? There has to be something positive in everything we read or it wouldn't have been published.
Yeah, yeah, I know...some of you are shaking your head and saying that self-publishing defeats the sentence above. Still, the number of seasoned authors who self-publish have been through the trials and tribulations of traditional publishing and have leaned in the process. Sadly, some of the self-pub opportunities have given platform to new authors who tell a good story, but have no idea how to hone it into a fine read. That's the very first lesson I learned. Anyone can tell a story, but only an author can write a novel. Oh, and it appears anyone can be a reviewer. *smile*
So, the next time you feel a need to leave a review, stop and think how you would feel, being on the receiving end. Tell the truth, but don't forget the niceness. Everyone needs a "warm fuzzy" now and then. Besides, you'll feel better about yourself.