Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Indies Are People Too!

Today I have a confession to make which I'm not exactly proud of. In the not-so-distant past I have been guilty of writing some very scathing one-star reviews for books by indie authors. At the time I felt completely justified because it was my opinion that if people put something out in the public realm for consumption, it was fair game. When I decided to test out the indie waters myself, I took down my scathing reviews out of fear that authors might seek their revenge by shooting my books down in flames. I should know by now that it's not so easy to outsmart karma. I have just been on the receiving end of my first nasty review and I've got just one word to describe it: Ouch!

When the words "unbelievably retarded" are the title of a review for your book, it really makes you think twice not only about writing, but living in general.

In my defence I can say that I've never been quite that brutal towards someone's book and I've always tried to give one or two reasons for my low opinion. I've also only written reviews for books which have a lot of other mixed reviews already. On saying that though, I have made some very detrimental comments about people's writing which in hindsight may have been crushing to them. When I read my own negative review, it suddenly occurred to me that I had probably been responsible for making people feel exactly the same way I was feeling at that moment. It was a real eye-opener to say the least. Mabye I'm particularly obtuse, but up till then it just didn't occur to me that it was wrong to tear someone's work to pieces so brutally as if their feelings and efforts did not matter at all.

I'm not saying that reviewers should not give their opinion or warn other readers not to buy something they think is unworthy, I just think there are certain standards of decency that should be maintained. No matter how detestable you find someone's book, no one put a gun to your head and made you read it. No one forced you to continue reading it after you'd decided it was garbage. Like most indie authors I'm not in this to make money but to build a name for myself through short stories which might help sell my two novels (or not!). I'd give everything away for free if I could but unfortunately Kindle Select only allows you to do this for 5 days in three months. I enjoy writing and hope there are at least a few people out there who will like what I write, and I believe this is the case with most indie authors who just want to share their stories.

We live in such a fast-paced world that people become angry when they feel like they've wasted their time on a book that did not live up to their expectations, and I believe this is what provokes the vitriol seen in so many Amazon reviews. People forget that behind every one of those books is a person who has put something out there of themselves. The internet has given everyone an opportunity to fuflill their dreams of authorship, and I guess all I'm trying to say in this post is don't be so quick to step all over those dreams. Before you write that nasty review think about the person behind the book and be a little kinder and more lenient towards them. Give some constructive reasons why you weren't engaged by the book and offer some suggestions for improvement if you can. And if the book is "unbelievably retarded" and beyond redemption like mine apparently is, just a simple "did not enjoy this book at all and would not recommend it" will suffice. The message is loud and clear.

Indies are people too, and if you can't bring yourself to care about the struggling wannabe authors out there, then care about yourself, because I'm telling you, this karma thing is a total bitch and it will come back to get you!

Here's the review in full for:

Unbelievably Retarded

There's really nothing else I can say. I read a LOT of books. This really is one of the most retarded books I've ever read. Don't waste your money

Yep, that pretty much says it all.


  1. I'm an indie author as well. But I'm not a self-published author. And yes, reviews can get nasty - but if you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. Readers don't owe you either a nice review or silence. You owe them the best book you can put out there.

  2. Very true docstar. It's all part of being a writer and I'm sure it gets easier to deal with the negative reviews as times goes on - at least I hope it does!

  3. Are you serious? You posted their review? It wasn't enough to simply leave it as a vague "One mean reviewer whose colorful language is frowned on by a great deal of society hurt me," but you had to post the review itself?

    It seems more like you want people to spit nasty things back about the specific reviewer than to help get you back on your feet. In that case, you're just continuing the circle of fire you wanted to step away from.

  4. Kriven,
    As I have so few reviews for my writing it would have been pretty easy to locate...Still, you are right, it's highly unprofessional to post or even comment on a review. Lesson learned.

  5. There is no excuse for uncivil comments about someone's work. I started a review blog because I was appalled by the snark in reviews and comments. If you don't care for a book there are polite ways to give a negative opinion (all reviews are opinions, after all: "I was disappointed because...," or "I was unable to connect with the characters because...," or "The plot did not flow well but parts were thrilling..." etc. Start positive, end positive, and in between respectfully give your opinion about the bits that could have been better.

    1. I agree completely. It's not difficult to be polite and consider people's feelings when writing a review. There is something positive to be found in every story if you're willing to look for it.

      There is a great deal of snark out there, but maybe with more people self-publishing and experiencing the pain of a nasty review firsthand, this might change. I know I will never give another snarky review again as long as I live!

  6. I agree wholeheartedly. We live in a world of computer thugs. People who write things they'd never have the courage to say to someone's face; it's unnecessary. I've read many books I didn't love or couldn't get through, and I just chalk it up to, "its not the book for me". Simple as that. No need to trash it on the world wide web. I believe everyone is entitled to their opinion but a) not every opinion needs to be shared and b) its not what you say, but how you say it.
    "It’s easy to criticize from the stands. What’s hard…is doing something."
    -Rob Walling