Haterade Drinking Reviewers

So you all are probably wondering why the bull is here.  That’s pretty simple actually!  For those of you that know me, you know my birthday is in May and that particular date in May is still under the sign of Taurus.  So I’m a bull and right now I’m an angry bull so I went and found one!

I’m sure you can guess what I’m angry about just by looking at the blog title… I’m sure a few of you are grinning because you’ve heard my stance before about this on Facebook, but there are a few people that I haven’t railed on to about this and so I’m writing a blog!  Besides, I promised myself I’d start blogging more on here! 🙂

So just what is a haterade drinking reviewer?  Let’s go find a good example of one!

This novel is really two different books: the first 25% being faux fairy tale and the last 75% starter romance novel. Neither satisfies. PRINCESS ROBIN’s merry players are Disneyesque caricatures, who chirp 60s musical theater tunes, and bore the reader, who must hang on, hoping the book will improve. Don’t bother: it doesn’t. Overwrought, nearly hysterically bad prose tires the reader early on, and the whole effect is as if Barbara Cartland had dictated her novels on acid. The novel improves slightly in the second part, but only if one can suspend belief and accept that 1) virgins feel no pain when first breeched, 2) the Alps and a deep sea are both in middle England, and 3) Richard the Lion Heart (Lion-Hearted here) was heterosexual, hadn’t previously married for the usual political reasons, lived in England more than a few months in his life and, oh, yes, spoke English.

Many good writers can sweep a reader through an historical romance without much mention of reality, but this writer does worse, altering history to the point that it offends any reader with even a minimal knowledge of western culture. Nitpicking aside (and there are plenty of nits to pick), by defeating Prince John, so that he never became King, and thus was never forced to sign the Magna Carta, the basis for western Constitutional Law, she makes feudalism viable in England and America to date. If one wanted to make George Washington a King, as some did, this book would justify it. Any sensible lawyer in America should been able to better advise her. The story would have been so much better without the regal father issues.

Having bought several self-published books recently, I must note this as one of the BEST examples of the reason NOT to buy self-published books. Anyone who truly wants to be a writer will be willing to put their drafts through the vetting process usual in publishing, and there is no evidence of skillful editing, or even of a reality check here. A graduate student would be forced to do better in a class of their peers. Robin and Simon could have been so much more than cardboard characters, but sadly they aren’t. The story line could have been set at any place in time, in any country, with no need to rip Maid Marian from her actual grave next to Robin Hood and wed her to the King of England. Reality, in this case, was so much better than this book. For a better choice of history with romance and a twist, try Naomi Novik’s, HIS MAJESTY’S DRAGON. And if you really want to experience the medieval England of Richard’s time, the YE OLDE TRIP TO JERUSALEM PUB is still serving great draft ales at the secret back entrances to old Nottingham Castle, just as it has since 1189, and there are plenty of hoary old legends told there that are far more interesting.

So here we have a review that is obviously a one star review. This reviewer had only done one other review and it was posted the same day. That review involved a biography that was no longer listed on Amazon anymore on a historical figure. The review said they had felt like they had read it before. They probably had! In history class! Generally you expect a biography to cover some of the same things. Anyway, back to this review. I’ve read more scathing reviews, ones in which the reviewer seems to think they have the right to tell the author to stop writing or my favorite that they “soldiered” through the book till the end just so they could warn people of how bad it was.

There’s one thing I have to ask these people and that is, are you truly happy with yourself? You who have never tried to write anything longer than a one paragraph review, who sit here and wonder why most reviewers include a synopsis in their reviews when it’s right on the page at Amazon think you have the right to tell a written, edited and published author that they should stop writing? You think that just because you spent a piddly 99 cents or even bothered to pick up their book for free that you have the right to reduce another human being to tears in some cases?

Now I know what these people will probably come back with. “I have wrote a book so nyah!” and yes, I know I said wrote instead of written and I’ve done it for a reason. For all the big highfaluting words they’ve used to bash an author with in a review, they can’t even write that review properly or even edit it. So I really doubt these people have written anything worthwhile, because they’re too busy bashing people to supposedly make themselves feel better.

It just feels like anybody who buys a book feels they’re a reviewer or anyone who can set up a blog on blogger. In a way that’s a beautiful thing but too many people are abusing it. So here is where we come to the real meat and potatoes of my rant.

Reviewing isn’t simply saying how you feel about a book, it’s doing so tactfully.

If these reviewers were getting paid to do reviews for a magazine, most of them would be fired for lack of tact. You have no right to verbally abuse anyone EVER. If I ever review something I don’t like, I will be tactful about it. I’m not going to tell someone to stop writing, nor will I bash someone for grammatical errors. How could I? Most of the time I get uncorrected proof galleys! If I went to someone and was like, “Your galley has a bunch of typos!” I’d get back a big fat DUH and look totally stupid in the process.

So how do you properly write a review for a book you don’t like?

Well first, read the book. If you don’t like it then stop reading. Life is too short to read bad books or even what you feel is a bad book. You can even go ahead and write your review and let the author know that you couldn’t get past whatever chapter you were on. It will tell them that they need to look at that and see if your argument holds any weight. Do NOT be insulting and do not act like your time has been wasted. Nobody held a gun to your head and made you read the book. They do offer samples before you buy.

If you did force yourself to finish the book and feel angry about it, write yourself an angry review. There’s nobody to blame for you reading a book you felt was a waste of time but yourself. You must’ve had the time to waste.

Now if you loved the book and you honestly felt there were some problems you need to bring to the author’s attention. Do so in a yin and yang manner. Talk about the things you loved first and then the things you didn’t like. Keep it objective and give examples so that the author knows what to look at. You’re not just doing a service for readers here, you’re giving the writer a red flag saying this needs to be looked at. So make sure you’re as clear as possible. This helps readers too and it makes you look more like a serious reviewer. The more serious you are with your reviews, the more people will take you seriously.

It’s petty to resort to name calling or to tell someone to give up. I personally rank those reviews down because if people are childish enough to be that rude, then I take their reviews with a grain of salt. Authors, do not be discouraged by idiotic reviews. Most of the time, they just make people want to read your books more.

I take pride in myself as a reviewer and people who read this might go back to The Top Shelf and see that most of my reviews are 5 stars. Well, I do have one 4 star review. I felt Genna Showalter didn’t give enough hints in the beginning that the hero and heroine in one of her books knew each other from before. Either way, I stand by every single one of my reviews. There’s no haterade on tap here!

What do you guys think of negative reviews? If you’re an author, how do you deal with them? If you’re a reader, do you report them and say they’re not helpful?

(Note: I did not edit this blog :-p )

Misty graduated from Capital University in 2005 with a degree in English Literature. She is an avid reader and is the owner of The Top Shelf

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Misty

Misty graduated from Capital University in 2005 with a degree in English Literature. She is an avid reader and is the owner of The Top Shelf

  • Hey Misty, I’ve gotten a few reviews I felt were unfair, but I always try to understand what the reviewer’s main complaint was. It’s never easy to accept when someone sees your work as crap, but if there’s a nugget inside the review that will help me become a better writer, I want to find it.

    That said, I think as a writer it’s important, for your sanity if for no other reason, to recognize there is no possible way everyone is going to like or appreciate your work. Some poor reviews I’ve received I can’t even figure out exactly what the reviewer didn’t like! In those cases I shrug my shoulders and try to move on…

    • Misty

      Yeah but that’s no reason for them to verbally abuse a writer. Saying the work was bad? Okay..but tell them why and do it in a way that’s not an angry rant but a solid review that gives the writer something to think about.

  • Izzy

    For the longest time, it was that reason why I NEVER showed anyone my writings, be it poetry or short stories/novella type. I was afraid someone who went to one class for writing was going to be judge and jury. What people don’t understand is that when writers do this, that is like their new child. Good or bad, they see it as something they have given life to. For someone who is a “blogger” that really just wants to find a reason to complain about a book in a very distasteful manner, I have one thing to say “We don’t need a Perez Hilton of books. Thanks though.”

    In my opinion, I am glad someone pointed out the faults of some of these so called “reviewers and bloggers.” Makes us see who the dedicated ones are.

    • Misty

      There’s a lot of us who are dedicated and tactful, Izzy. But I’ve seen authors act so nervous around us, it’s like they think we’re going to bite or something. I try hard to really kill that aura.

  • I don’t often write reviews because I worry about offending the author if I have any negative remarks. I have reviewed a few titles on Amazon and I do recall one that I mentioned that I personally felt the writing needed a little more polish. Be that as it may, I went on to sing the praises of this book.

    I’m a strong believer in the “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” rule, but if I do have something negative to point out, I try to offer it up as constructive criticism.

    And when I have a completed book, you can bet that one of the first places you’ll see a review in on The Top Shelf.

    • Misty

      I will be more than happy to review your book Doug! You shouldn’t be afraid to review a book for an author. As long as you say how you feel and can back it up with examples (if it’s that sort of claim), then you shouldn’t have any problems. I know when I’m having someone read over something I write, I want them to be honest and if something needs to be looked at, I’ll look at it. Most authors are always looking for ways to improve their work. If their editor missed something, they want to know about it.

  • Sian Young

    I loved your blog Misty!! People can be so cruel and unfeeling! Some just don’t realize how sensitive Writers really are, and some just don’t care!
    You get people who don’t know were so nervous and unsure and fragile that one wrong word could crush us!
    And some do know and still do it!

    • Misty

      It’s sad you guys have to be that way! I get formal review emails and they just sound so jittery, it makes me sad. It’s like I’m not gonna bite you! I promise!

      I created TTS to be helpful. I want to see authors do well so if I see a major issue in their work, I will tell them about it. There’s a difference between giving an opinion and being abusive. Some people think it’s funny to do this crap to authors. I guess they think it gives them some sort of power or something. I’d say it’s beyond unprofessional and I’m honestly tired of it.

      I heard Amazon is going to do something to make it difficult for people who don’t know how to review without being hateful to post. I’m not sure what that is yet but I do hope it makes the reviewing process better for authors.

      • Sian Young

        It’s not your fault or any ones really! It’s just how we are! I mean we just spent years pouring over the beautiful creation and were terrified that it truly does suck!! That’s why reviews can be taken so painfully and personally!
        Especially for people like me who have VERY low opinion of themselves and their work, it hurts alot more!

  • “Do NOT be insulting and do not act like your time has been wasted. Nobody held a gun to your head and made you read the book. They do offer samples before you buy.”

    AMEN!!!

  • I try to follow the same guidelines as you. I tend to not have published any negative reviews. There was one book I read that just seemed to be everyone and made it seem like the author had no idea where he was going with the story. I went to him in person and told him. We decided not to review that book, but then he sent me the second book to review. Through talking, he let me know that he wanted a comic series, which would have rocked, but his wife pushed him towards a novel under the idea that comics wouldn’t sell.

    • If I ever had to write a review that’s less than three stars, there would have to be something very seriously wrong with the book. Here’s the thing though. If you post a negative review about typos and then the author has the book edited, you look like a total prat. I’d rather work with authors if I can to make their work better. At the same time, I’m not saying that there should never be any negative reviews posted. I don’t have time to work one on one with everyone so I’d probably post the review anyway so that the author knows to look at it. So far though I haven’t had any problems. Must just pick out really good reads!

  • Wonderfully written. It’s not easy to write a ‘Sorry dude I just couldn’t get on with it’ review, I know I recently had to one but tact is the key.

    Thanks Misty xx

    • It so is Kim! Authors will respect you more if you are tactful. I really don’t know what kind of power these trolls get from being rude about reviews. If any at all, it’s the cheap kind.

  • Tact is key. There are SO many diplomatic and constructive ways to say ‘I didn’t like this here’s why’. It always strikes me as petty, mean-spirited and flat-out lazy when people write reviews overflowing with vitriol.

    I am guilty of one such lapse of judgement. I wrote a really scathing (but, in my opinion, deserved) review of Jean M. Auel’s Land of Painted Caves and posted it. Then, I deleted it.

    Why? Because even though I felt sure she would never read it and be affected by its angry tones, I knew I certainly would not want people posting such venomous reviews of my work online. The Golden Rule rides again.

    I want honesty, even brutal honesty, but I prefer tact and diplomacy to personal attacks, patronizing, and juvenile baiting tactics. So, if I have a negative review to something, I go classy rather than b*tchy. Its harder to do, but worth the effort.

    Great post about a touchy subject on these crazy interwebs we call home.

    ~P.P.

  • I totally agree. Whatever Amazon has planned to control review posting, I really hope it cuts down on these people who use it as a launching pad to hurt people. That’s not right. Nobody has the right to tell someone they can’t chase a dream.

  • Oh, Misty, Misty, Misty! How I needed to hear your words. I had a reviewer just this week give one of my novels one-star while professing that she loved it and it made her laugh. The reason? Something you eat after dinner (dessert) was spelled (desert). She devoted a paragraph to explaining the difference.

    While I don’t condone sloppy editing, does this reviewer realize how much hard work and know=how it takes to write a book that people relate to and makes them laugh? How can you equate the value of a book that reaches your heart and mind with typos? She brought my average way down with that one-star. I hope her smugness keeps her warm at night. I’ve had one-star reviews where the reader said things like “this book sucks,” (not for the same book, btw.) I’m less offended by that review because at least they are commenting on the content.

    • Misty

      I’d prefer “I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I thought I would because….” It’s like EXPLAIN! Give the author something to think about. Give the READER something to think about. That’s what a review is supposed to do. It’s to the point that I don’t even listen to the negative anymore because the people that ARE being negative are being so stupid about it that it seems like they shouldn’t be reviewing. So then reviews lose their purpose and I end up looking at the sample anyway.

  • The art of book reviewing has become overly polarized. Kind, tactful reviewers are afraid to write negative reviews, then there are “the bulls,” as you call them, who write overly caustic and downright nasty reviews. Where is the middle ground? Personally, I think more people should be willing to write negative reviews, because we need eloquent, thoughtful reviews to drown out the diatribes of what often feels like a jealous, competing author (you’re so right about most of the haters only having one or no other reviews). Once a reader wrote a super long review “teaching” me how to write. And even though I have over 200 positive reviews to balance it out, that one stung me to the core. It was so, so hurtful. You’re right; nobody has the write to tell someone to give up their dream, but I do think it’s important to share opinions even when they aren’t all hearts and flowers.

    Great post,
    Emlyn

  • Great post. I do find it hard sometimes to share the pros with the cons in a review but I have had wonderful feedback from authors when I do. They want to inquire what it is or on my comment about what I felt didn’t fit right.

    They take it under consideration. I’ve been invited to read and review more ARCs because the author/s know I’ll be honest. 🙂

    But beating people up is wasteful. If a person doesn’t like a book they can express so, like you said, with tact. And, I agree. I’ve purchased a few e-books based on certain negative reviews. And, with exception to about one – I’ve found myself disagreeing with the negative review thinking ‘They totally missed the story…”

    • Oh I’ve found some people on goodreads that I would just love to argue with.

      As for the buying books based on negative reviews… 🙂

      Nine times out of ten I do believe they missed the story. Sometimes they want to just outright sabotage the author. I think that’s just really silly.

  • I’ve done a blog similar to this. I just made sure none of the one liners I picked were ones directed at any of my books.

    I had one that left a bad review for ONE–typo. Just one. It’d been published with a publisher–and just missed in all the edits and proofreading. A name was missing an H. Seriously. The reviewer stopped reading at the typo.

    I try not to read reviews anymore. I look at my overall average, but not the individual reviews. I’m just tired of reading the negativity personally. I just want to scream “Of course I didn’t answer ALL the questions–it’s a freaking SERIES” but, of course, I can’t do that.

    The ones that get me start with:
    “It’s only romance but”
    “I don’t read in this genre, but”
    “I only read one page but”

    Changing history is literary license. I read a book where an author had Abraham Lincoln not shot in an historical. (With a comment explaining she’d taken literary license to do so for a FICTION story.

    People don’t get the meaning of fiction. And, to be honest, if they’ve only written one review, I disregard the review entirely.

    Not everyone will love my writing–I guess I’ve gotten to the point I don’t care.

    Nice post!