So I spent a lot of time last week talking about writing and trying to encourage writers, which almost makes me feel like I neglected the reader-y side of my blog. But *have no fear* ranty monkey is here to talk about why I think reading and reviews!
You see, like many other people on the blogosphere I’ve noticed an ongoing problem of a certain type of author (#notall) that goes after reviewers when they get a negative review. This is obviously something that’s existed longer than I’ve been around, yet I specifically saw a video recently (that I won’t share because it names the author in question) where a vlogger described a horrible incident of an author harassing them for their 3* review. Now I’m sure I don’t have to state the obvious, but I will anyway: THIS IS NOT ON.
Still the encroachment on what reviewers do goes further than this unfortunately. Because I also see a fair number of authors, every so often, pre-emptively telling would-be readers of their work how they ought to review. Which is also NOT ON. Ultimately I hold with the view: your platform, your rules. I do not see how someone else is entitled to tell others what to do on their own site. Particularly when it comes to opinion pieces like reviews- gah! The nerve!
Personally I have my own unspoken rules of how I like to run my blog and I see a lot of other reviewers make different choices. And whether they want to discuss certain aspects of a book, leave out negative reviews or only review certain kinds of books is *completely* up to them! It’s certainly not up to the author to determine what makes a satisfactory review.
And I say this not because I think people should avoid advice or never try to improve what they do- we’re all learning things all the time- but because I am seriously sceptical about whether someone who asks for reviews to be tailored for the author’s benefit are really looking out for the reviewer’s best interests. I do not think it is right to tell readers off for not giving a book a high enough rating, or not stating how the writer can improve, or heaven forbid “not getting it” (whatever that means)- dude, it’s not for your benefit. Most of us are trying to write reviews to help out fellow readers.
Sure, you’re welcome to write each and every review as a love/hate letter to the author– that’s your prerogative. In my experience though, most critics aren’t doing that. What motivates me personally, aside from enjoying chats about *BOOKS*, is knowing that I can help fellow bookworms out from under their crushing TBRs to figure out what they *need* to read a book and what they might want to skip. That’s why even if I gush over a book, I try to tell people what it is they can expect and point out that other people might not like it. Some of my favourite books of the year fall into this category- and that’s okay! Everyone has different tastes and is entitled to their opinion.
It’s kind of unbelievable that some authors use reviews as their personal critique anyway. I mean, it is supposed to be a finished product. I hate to burst anyone’s bubble, but the time for critique should be a little earlier than the publication stage. Once it’s entered the market, it’s fair game. Especially if people have parted with time and money.
None of this is to say that authors can’t get something out of reviews. My personal view is that if a review helps an author I like then that’s *fantastic*- I obviously want all the authors I respect to have a long and illustrious career (if nothing else than for the selfish reason that I want to read *all* their future books). And guess what? People still go onto read books that are negatively received. In fact, I’ve gone out and read books I’ve seen people slate (morbid curiosity/monkey-brained masochism- call it what you will). In my experience, what actually puts readers off is whiny authors who moan about reviews.
And believe me, I get that writers poured a lot of work into it. I’m perfectly sympathetic to that. However, here’s the rub: reviewers put a lot of effort into their platforms too. No one has a monopoly on importance or conscientiousness here.
Contrary to what some writers might think, reviewers can’t control if they liked or disliked a book. Nor are they “out to get” anyone or likely to have personal vendettas against (often unknown) authors. Yet what reviewers do depend on is their ability to critique a book on its merit– and to start meddling with that undermines the whole process.
So I’ll say for the record: my reviews are for readers. Writers who think otherwise can kindly back away- I have bananas and I’m not afraid to use them!
How about you? Do you think reviews are for readers or authors? Let me know in the comments!