Okay, this is a rant about reviewers. Yes, I said it–a rant.
As a writer, I do not expect everyone to like my writing. I write dark, emotional tales that end with a HFN. These stories although they may contain fantasy/paranormal/sci-fi etc. find their base in reality to an extent. To expect that my style is everyone’s cup of tea would be self-centered and obnoxious in my opinion. Therefore, yes I expect reviewers to be honest and straightforward with the people who rely on them for honest and thought provoking reviews of the written word. If there is a plot hole, say so. If the characters are one-dimensional and flat, share that observation and offer educated suggestions on how to improve. These are just a couple of things I expect to see when it comes to constructive criticism in a review.
What I don’t expect to see is sloppiness, all-cap comments, and the inability to get the simplest things correct. I also believe a reviewer should respect the process of storytelling and not ruin the story for those who might still want to read said story. Whether you like the story or not isn’t important to me personally. As I said before not everyone will enjoy my dark, often times twisted imagination and that’s fine. Opinions are like assholes–everyone has one.
Perhaps, people will take this little rant the wrong way, but I have to get some shit off my chest and I make no apologies for being outspoken. My stories are my children. I try my best to nourish those tiny plot bunnies, watch them mature and grow into something that I’m proud of, and then I release them out into the world. I’d be ecstatic if everyone loved them, but like their creator they are imperfect and not everyone likes me either.
Being a writer isn’t easy and can be frustrating at times, but it is what I am. For twelve years, I’ve written, honing my ability to tell a good story, one that grabs the reader and draws them in. I try to create characters that are human, emotional, and flawed just like the reader so that they are relatable. To have someone enjoy something you’ve created is the ultimate compliment. To have someone not respect that process is an insult not only to the writer, but also to everyone involved in the creation of the final product.
Recently I’ve been having doubts about my ability to create. I’ve even considered tossing it all out the window, although I’m sure my publisher and my editor would kick my ass for such negative thoughts. I know a friend of mine upon listening to me babble a couple of weeks ago pulled out her sporks, lit them on fire, and poked me in the ass–hard. I think all writers have doubts at one time or another about why they do what they do. Even one of my heroes, Stephen King, admitted that he thought Carrie was crap and tossed it. Fate intervened though and now practically everyone on the planet knows who he is. Moments like this make me grab my bootstraps, pull myself up out of the sludge of mediocrity, and start fighting again.
Now back to my point. I came upon a review of one of my books purely by chance recently. Upon reading the review, I was infuriated not because it was a less than glowing review. That was not what pissed me off. What made me angry was that the reviewer in question seemed as if they couldn’t even be bothered to write up a professional review. Misspellings, two sentence paragraphs, character names incorrect, and to top it off they gave away a huge plot point. The lack of professionalism in the reviewer’s opinions was mindboggling. The fact that notification of the review never reached me also raised my eyebrows. Hell, even the reviewer who gave me my worst review ever (one on my first book) notified me.
I get it. The reviewer didn’t like the book and they are entitled to their opinion. However, for the love of the Goddess try to create a readable review. Is it too much to ask that you check your facts? Even if you hated the book at least respect the process because in the end the only one that looks bad is you due to sloppy work. I have to say though that the reviewer managed one thing with the car accident they flung out into the Ethernet.
The funk I was in is gone now. Why you might ask? Simply put my Irish temper flared to apocalyptic levels and any doubt I had as to my ability as a writer burned to ash. I’m watching that ash now as I write this blow away on the December wind out my living room window.
At least I check my work.