When book reviewers go too far…

As published writers we all put our work out to stranger’s eyes to be read, critiqued, loved or rejected. It’s the gamble that we take and we understand and accept that. It used to be that you’re work was reviewed by a professional and was posted for the world to see, good or bad. You read where you could improve, how your next piece of work could be better or you celebrated that the reviewer enjoyed your work. In this modern and advancing world, we have Indie authors, such as myself, and now have self-proclaimed Indie reviewers. As authors we have to learn, grow, improve or we will not survive in the eBooks world but what about the reviewers? Don’t they have a responsibility to other readers and other writers to learn how to critique, how to review?

Mechanics of Murder was my very first book, written over 8 years ago when I was filled with a passion yet very little knowledge. Most of my fans know the background of Mechanics and the emotions behind my story to finish it for my ailing father. It is not a grammatically perfect book, filled with errors of a novice writer who wanted her father to get better. I will never be ashamed of my book, will never regret putting it out there and have prepared myself for the negative reviews on my punctuation and my grammar. I’m really okay with that. After all, it’s how we grow and learn and my work has done the same. With Love; Now & Forever became a best-selling book this year and I’m SO very proud of this book but it wouldn’t be half the book it is if I hadn’t learned how to write properly. Thank you, Mechanics. But in a recent 1 star review, my evaluator tore apart my characters and how they acted/reacted in a story stating that it was unbelievable. They claimed that because my character was 30 years old, she wouldn’t get butterflies or tongue-tied when her love interest came into a room. This is the first time I have truly found a review deeply insulting and I walked away for a day but couldn’t let it go. So here is my question of the responsibility reviews should have.

All of my work stems from my own life experiences, as I’m finding is true with other fictional writers. It makes sense; this is the only life I’ve lived as far as I can remember so I have to draw on my own emotions and reactions to explain through my characters. My story Mechanics is loosely based on my life and the relationship part is the base of my relationship with my husband. I blushed when I saw him looking at me, I got butterflies in my stomach when he came near and my tongue was often tied when we talked. I was 32 years old. We will now be celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary this year (yes, I’m 42 now) and I still get butterflies when I see him, I can’t keep my eyes off of him when we are in a room, he can still make me blush and often still literally sweeps me off of my feet. We are each others’ best friend and lovers. So when someone tells me that my characters wouldn’t act that way, it insults me because Steve and I do act that way and that is what I have to draw on for my characters. A part of me feels some pity for that person, that they either never had or no longer have that kind of relationship with a partner. But then my frustration kicks back in.

I welcome the reviews and critiques for my grammar, my formatting, and my layout. Without them I couldn’t continue to grow as an author, I wouldn’t be driven to learn to perfect my work which I know will never happen because I’m a human being, I’m not designed to be perfect. I welcome those who wish my plot was stronger or took a different direction, it drives me to come up with something that hasn’t been done (tough order for sure) but if you’re going to judge my work for all of the world to see, don’t tell me how I (or my character) would or would not react in a situation. We are all very different, individualistic people who make this world so interesting and exciting and we handle things distinctively. Keep your comments professional and limited to your knowledge of the written language and not something as unique as a person’s nature. Oh, one other little thing, if you want to be a reviewer and commentate on another’s work, make sure your own spelling is correct.

Life is meant to be fun, enjoy the journey!

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2 thoughts on “When book reviewers go too far…

  1. Thanks so sharing. I will say this again and again to every writer, grow a thick skin. I know you have given away free ebooks and often the people downloading them are not your real readers. They’ll sometimes do a review without ever reading the whole book. I agree with you wholeheartedly and believe that a woman in her 30s would do just as you wrote your characters. Minor grammar issues are common. Formatting for me is a huge deal. I use a formatter for that reason. I have one that doesn’t charge that much. Congrats on having that kind of relationship with your husband. I don’t think you can write anything without putting yourself into it. Congrats on your success and may your star continue to rise. 🙂

  2. RaeAnne…trust me…there is no age limit for butterflies…just thought I’d add that…I know this has been a painful experience…but…you have such a lovely spirit…I know you will only be better because of it…happy writing!

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