In the past few years, the literary world has been chalked full of author/reviewer feuds, and I just cannot wrap my head around it at all. As a reviewer myself, even if I'm fairly new to the blogging community, I've found myself the target of a few such emails from authors in response to a handful of my reviews. Now I'm not saying that this drama is all author initiated, so don't get me wrong first of all. I'm not saying that all of the emails I've received have been negative response emails. A few have been great thanking me for being helpful, but I've also had a few of them that made me question whether or not I wanted to continue being a reviewer. So this brings me to what I'd like to discuss with you guys.
Snarky vs. Constructive Reviewing
Let me first start by telling you that I am not a fan of the flame war. It's childish...plain and simple and it is never acceptable.
GoodReads has gotten a really bad rep with authors because of all the snarky reviews that a few bad apple reviewers have been posting. I really find this to be sad, because I always try to be helpful when reviewing a book. I've seen so many authors that I admire trying to turn readers away from GoodReads. Yes, I think that like with all systems it does have its flaws, but for the most part it is genuinely a great tool for readers and authors alike to utilize and come together as a reading community. I hate that a few bad apples are ruining the whole bunch, but isn't that how the old phrase goes?
Now I'm going to throw it out there and say that I just don't get snarky reviewing of books. In fact, I refuse to post a review for a book on my blog that I deem less than a 3 star read. Now that doesn't mean that I won't post a 1 or 2 star review on my GoodReads account though, because I feel like it is my duty as a reader to provide my constructive review in order to help out authors with feedback. On the flip side of the coin though, I also don't understand authors who try to engage reviewers to "explain" themselves either. I don't mind receiving an email from an author saying thank you, but I also don't like to receive one outlining their reasoning behind their decisions with their book meanwhile missing the point of what I had said in what I had hoped to be helpful review.
I am never, nor will I ever be snarky in reviews. I would just never do that to an author who I know put so much hard work into their book. I would also never belittle it with gifs that are clearly meant to be antagonistic even when some are just trying to come across as funny in their reviews. This just isn't my style. Period. My goal when reviewing is for an author to see one of my reviews and consider it the constructive criticism that it is intended. Hey, I've given lower star reviews to authors that I absolutely adore (both on a personal and professional level), because first and foremost I am always honest about how I feel about a book. It solely about the book they produced in my review. I always weigh out my words carefully, and try to be as clear as possible about what I did and did not enjoy when reading a book. I even go so far as to offer up helpful suggestions where I see a story could be improved, or mention that it had good bones and could use some fleshing out. To me, this is constructive reviewing. This is also the type of reviewing that I think all authors should take into consideration when reading reviews and forget about the others.
Will reviewers all be like me? *shaking head*
Hell no, but you just have to weed through to find those of us out there who are trying to help you. And reviewers, I hope you consider what I'm saying about being constructive because that is the best way you can help authors out. Writing is a craft that gets honed over the years, so they need helpful feedback in order to grow and develop their talent.
I think the important thing to remember both as an author and a reviewer, is that reading is subjective and everyone has their own opinions. I say this all the time, but you have to just roll with it. This is what you have to do to survive in this business as both an author and a reviewer too. We do it because THIS is what we love to do. Be grateful for feedback authors, and be constructive reviewers. But I think above all for both it is important most of all to not go at each others throats no matter what is said.
I have a different level of appreciation for the work that goes into a book, because I have several friends that are authors and I see how much effort it takes to put yourself and, more importantly, your work out there. But I also have a deep appreciation for good quality reviewers, because I also have several valued friends that provide invaluable, constructive reviews as well. We aren't going to always praise your work as being the wonderful works of art you hope, but definitely take into consideration when a reviewer is trying to help you out as well.
So that's all I have to say and I'll likely get a few displeased people, but *shrug* I'm okay with that.