Wow! That fish is smelly!

I wanted to blog about this because it's something that really gets my goat.

So, there's this author who has published her fourth book, an author I've been very loyal to. I have three of her books (one paperback, two hardcovers), with the fourth on its way. Apart from these, I also have three digital editions of the same books, which I bought because it takes about a week for my orders to arrive from Amazon and I simply could not wait.

Now, her first two books were great reads, especially the first. But then comes the third book and something about it seemed off. After reading the book several times, I had to be honest with myself and admit that the quality of writing wasn't the same as the previous ones.

Then came the fourth book and this one was even worse than the third: I can never enjoy a book with an unlikeable main character. And I rarely, if ever, review books, even ones that I like! Mostly because I'm shy that way and I'm not very good with words. But since I enjoyed the first and second book so much, I had to write something about this decline of quality. My review of the third book could be taken either way (good/bad) because it takes a LOT for me to turn my back on an author that I like. (If you are JKR, it took me five books before I realised that there was no light at the end of the tunnel.)

But I couldn't bring myself to give the fourth book the same treatment, this time I was critical of the main character, which can be summed up in a few words: Honey, get off your high horse.

That done, I take a look at the other reviews, and there was something about it that I couldn't put my finger on. There's always something suspicious about too many 5-star reviews that contain little variety in its praise. But I just shrug it off because these things do happen.

Then I come across one of the critical reviews, a review which sums up most of my feelings about the book (though my review focused on a different aspect). I saw that there were a lot of comments on this particular review, so I click on the link ... and , wow, this reviewer takes an awful beating! And from no one rational, mind you.

If there is one thing I hate about these kinds of attacks, it's the irrational behaviour of a group of people who are not at all open for discussion--they simply want you to agree with them. They may claim otherwise, but who are they fooling?

There was someone else who thought that there was something suspect about this rabid mob, and after digging around, found some interesting links. It turns out that one of the pack is a published author, who happens to be on friendly terms with the author of the books I just reviewed (though I've had no nasty comments on my review so far).

It's safe to assume who the rest of the rabid bunch are: the author's BFF.

Now, the author whose book I reviewed may not have joined the pack in this case, but the links that one poster provided shows that she is about as blindly loyal (which differs from just being loyal!) as the rest of the pack of bullies she runs with.

So it doesn't take me long to add my comment, too, saying in no uncertain terms that I will not spend my hard-earned cash on this author's future books. One can only hope the author is wise enough to call off her dogs before she loses more of her readers.

Edit: This is a good read about an author going apeshit on an Amazon reviewer.

5 comments:

  1. Much sadness there. I understand the feeling along the terms of the Harry Potter books where the first three were so enchanting and fun... and then the characters never grew up despite the dead bodies piling up around them. But that's what fanfiction is for, right? ;)

    And wow, read that other blog... I have to admit, I fear reaching the point of publishing anything because of bad reviews, but I can't imagine ever lashing out at reviewers because of their honest opinion. Though I like the bit that it was the 'husband', and I'm entirely certain he never spoke to the author wife about how he should respond. ;)

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  2. Hey, you! ^^

    Yeah, that bit where the 'husband' made his appearance was hilarious. Apparently she hounded this reviewer under several different account names, which is really sad.

    The thing about getting criticism is just something you have to live with, because once you put your stuff 'out there', it's inevitable. I don't take criticism lightly, but then, I really don't pay attention to them because I paint for myself, not for others. If they like it, that's great. If not, what can you do?

    I certainly don't get why authors (or artists) get into an internet pissing contest with a critical reviewer. You're not going to 'win' anything. In the case of the author I was talking about, her pack of bullies managed to piss off some of her readers, who have also stated that they will not buy any more of her books. Although I didn't get any negative comments on my (critical) review, I did get a handful of negative marks on it and I wish those people would just comment on WHY they found the review unhelpful to other customers ... On the other hand, I have a pretty good idea who gave me those negative points ;)

    At the end of the day, friends of this author got into a pissing contest with customers. And how would any customer react if they were being bullied because they didn't like the product?

    The thing is, I largely depend on reviews to determine which books are worth the purchase, and I have found some truly thoughtful reviews to help me decide whether a certain book is worth it or not. There's a difference between a reviewer saying "it sux0rrs!!11!" and a review which explains why they didn't like the book.

    I don't think you should fear publishing because someone might not like it. Critical reviews aren't always a bad thing, especially if they're thoughtful and honest.

    -- Doris --

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  3. Heh, I wasn't certain if you'd remember me. ;) I stumbled upon your blog here and couldn't resist playing. Good to see more amazing artwork coming.

    I completely agree with you. Pissing matches in general are rather worthless and the internet just makes it happens more with the Wizard of OZ screen going on. Really, don't look at the human behind the curtain! =P Good discussion is one thing, but straight up arguments against each other's intelligence... it's a sad sight to see.

    Funny enough, one of the people I currently talk to at great length (yeesh, 6 years now?) started contact with me because she hated the ending to one of my stories. We got some good discussion going about the story, then fanfic in general... and now our emails are more about life than anything else. It's funny how that happens. ;) She's still critical about things I write, but I love her since I know she's speaking the truth when she likes something.

    So yeah, critical reviews don't have to be a bad thing. I know that in the mind, but in the heart... man, it's like getting a graded paper and seeing red ink everywhere. It's never a happy feeling for me, even if I got a good grade overall. =P It's awesome that you're able to view critiques in such a better light. You'll be able to take in that information a lot more easily and better your works each time.

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  4. That's a great story about one person being critical about one of your stories and in the end becoming a friend. If someone gives you a thoughtful and honest opinion, most of the time you listen. And why not? How can it truly hurt in the end? It says that this person is rational and she cares about your stuff.

    About my viewing of critiques: I think over the last few years I started to understand more and more that I'm painting for me, not for anyone else, which is why I'm my own biggest critic. So anything critical (about my artworks) that comes my way, I've learned to let it go. I may get upset privately and feel the need to sit in a dark corner and sulk--but I would never go online and 'do battle' with the person(s) who didn't like my stuff.

    I think I said this on LJ once where one of my (fan) art got a wee bit of a criticism from someone. I think it was the fact that she felt the character I painted looked too 'caucasian' for a supposedly Japanese character (even though the original creator of the character doesn't depict her characters with a distinct Asian look). So I said my bit about this. Even so, it was still my personal interpretation of said character.

    Even though I received that (fairly) minor critique concerning the fan art, in the end, you just can't force someone to like something, which is really the heart of the matter. This person didn't like the artwork because it didn't convey her idea of what the character should look like, which is fine. I said my part about how this was the way I interpreted the character ... and she didn't disagree with that. And I didn't disagree with her (when you come down to it), though I did want to explain why this character turned out the way it turned out.

    In the end, it was just a blip on the radar and no one else joined in to blow it out of proportion (which happens a LOT, especially in fan communities).

    If someone had said something like, "well, the anatomy is incorrect" or something like that, that's fine. I can live with that, and I can correct it, because it's a technical aspect that I can improve on.

    Honest and thoughtful criticism is fine, but when a bunch of shitheads decide to dump on someone for having a different opinion, then it becomes something that's just plain ugly. But if you jump into the fracas, it becomes an endless thing. You get pissed off more and more, and maybe start behaving irrational yourself. In the end, you're just going to have to let these people congratulate themselves for a circle-jerk well done.

    The only thing I want to ask them is, "Congratulations! So ... what did you win?"

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  5. What? Fan communities blow things out of proportion? Never seen it. *sarcasm alert*

    For all of the wonderful people out there in fandom, it's amazing how many... well, as you say, 'shitheads' exist out there. They seem to be determined to make themselves feel superior and right above someone else in their lives, and poor fanartists get the shaft for sharing their works (and for free). Hell, I work part time at Starbucks currently and I have decided that people don't go there for the coffee. They go to order the extra hot, nonfat, no foam, 3 splenda, latte with cinnamon powder on top... and that's no exaggeration of some drink orders we get. People pay for the high of telling another person how to do their job, or in your case, to do artwork, even though they know nothing about it.

    *grins* If I start a fight, can I win a cookie?

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