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Are You Really Qualified to Review That Book?

qualified-reviews

Just who’s qualified to write a review? Certainly this is a legitimate question isn’t it? This has come up more than once and personally who’s qualified? The answer? Anybody is qualified. Why? Because reviews are opinions, and like assholes we all have them.

Does it make some reviewers better than others if they are book bloggers like me? No, because I have read book bloggers who have been at it for three to four years who still write the most inane childish book reports about a book. I stopped writing book reports when I was in sixth grade. In my most humble opinion this does nothing to help a consumer buy a book, unless they really just want another synopsis dumbed down for them.

Oh yes, I am quite a snarky bitch, but you knew that already!

This subject irks me to no end. But who am I but another person with an opinion. I’m the one who thinks Twilight is a bane on the existence of the Young Adult scene and puts the vampire arc to shame. I mean, sparkling? COME ON? Again, opinions… assholes we all have them! But,  on that note, does it make their review (restraining eye rolling) any less significant than mine? Not really because I am sure it helped a consumer who is just looking for another version of the synopsis to click with them in order to help them decide in buying a book they already wanted to buy in the first place.totes-awesome-book-blog

Why is this? Well first off, a consumer is a consumer and we tend to have an opinion after we “consume”. I write reviews for books I buy, tour, am asked to review for etc… I also review restaurants I eat at, stores I shop at, movies I go to, toothpaste I use, laundromats I shower at. I like giving my opinions because that’s how I roll. I kind of am like I cat, I like show my huha to the world in the form of words and opinions.

But if you really want to be nitpicky and figure a way to qualify a reviewer then you, the author are qualifying the reviewer by asking them to review your book and giving them it to review and publishers in the same sense by doing the same by approving reviewers and readers through their programs and through Netgalley and Edelweiss. In this sense they have qualified us as reviewers. They have decided we are qualified to read their book above and beyond a regular consumer in their simple act of asking for us to review it! So the next time I hear an author say, “Who qualified them to review my book!” (which is where this all started) I may have to smack a ho!

Now why am I babbling about this? It falls under one of those moments of “Authors who not only are Behaving Badly but are reaching dick-piston stage.” Yep, an author was being all “I am better than all of you” and bitching about a review or something.. I don’t even remember exactly who, but as you read above, it was another hair ripping moment *eye rolling going on with full force* They had given a book to a Read-4-Review group. (Authors, you do realize you kind of get what you deserve when you f***ing give it to a group to read, right? *SMH*)  I am so tired of this kind of response, it made me add another author to the pile of “never will read”. Guys, don’t bitch publicly. You maybe the be all to end all, but ummm don’t do it publicly, you will pay!

But what about writing reviews? Like I said, and I am not going to mince words, I write decent reviews. Hell, I know I write good reviews and people want me to write them. But You know what? I also write sloppy, lazy reviews.  Last week I wrote this review about the second Apocalypse Z: Dark Days (BTW I read it in both it’s original Spanish and the translated version):

Fast paced and full of excitement. More solid than the first book and no longer journal style. I read it straight through from cover to cover. Still lacking in full character builds I was let down with the obvious choice where the story leads. It’s still a great zombie read and this one translates better (Though I read it first in Spanish and again in English). I’ve pre ordered the third if that says anything.

It’s hard to find top-notch zombie books and this coming from the perspective of Spaniard is a treat. I think some of muddling of “there’s one thing missing” is due to this. Basically if you like reading a zombie series where it is fast paced and full of incredible action and you do not mind cliches in the genre (because again let’s face it, the basic conventions of zombie stories are … cliche!) then you will like the series. Also, you could essentially read this without reading the first one. TONS of info dump at the beginning (which was annoying only because I had JUST read the first book).

girl-readingNow is there anything wrong with the review? No, it basically is as good as any. I don’t get analytical and I cover  the three basic rules. Did I like it or not? What I liked or did not like about it. And would I recommend it. I think I covered it, how about you? Am I proud of this review? Ummm not particularly but I am satisfied with it. If this was for a publisher or a tour I would put more effort into it. Now, is this the right way to go about it? Heck no, at least not for this OCD reviewing wench! This is something I plan on rectifying this year. Hence why my reviews are still closed. I only will review what I choose too and I am going through a 12-step program for tours..

*twitch..twitch…twitch*

But where was I going when I started this diatribe? Oh ya *fingers snap*… don’t go by the premise someone is not qualified to review because their name is not on a byline in the New York Times, etc. There is no qualifications set, or degree to be had for my opinion to be an acceptable review. You may think it sucks, and that is totally fine because I may think your book sucks, which is also fine. Buck up Buttercup, that is how it works!

And the authors sing…

So during this discussion on this particular authors page the publisher had said “Don’t go read reviews on Amazon (or anywhere else I am assuming), the only review that matters is a publisher asking for your next book“. If you are someone who has an agent, full-time publicist or is traditionally published by a small press or the Trade-5. This is extremely solid & awesome advice. The job of a good agent and publicist is to keep their authors writing, to shelter them from the fallout and protect them from the asshats who have opinions and the only review that matters is the one that says “I need your next book” that is what got me to write this, a reviewer was pissed off because she read an author’s statement to this fact. In the ensuing conversation the author made the comment a reviewer was not qualified to review but the initial statement, she thought I would be bitching about, she was wrong, I agreed, fuck us reviewers!

But wait, before you bend us over and deliver it.. don’t take it too far. Don’t be a douche bag and ignore the fact you have fans. But there are times you really should screw reading those reviews even if you think you can take the heat. There are windows of time when your art needs to be the focus. You need to delete your Facebook app off your phone and Kindle, stop reading every review on blogs, Amazon, Goodeads, etc… Stop going online all together and just write.

Dip your quill in the inkwell and write.

Don’t live by what others think of you. Yes, your writing is part of you Isn’t this the advice your parents gave you? Sticks and Stones?? If we start to be and write to just please people, the art is lost. Be true to yourself and your writing, you will find your place in the publishing world. You can do fan-service, it will come, but it needs to come when you have an established fan base, not when you are still in mid-level diapers!

OK!! But see? The publicist and agents? They are reading these reviews, and they are going to be giving you feedback after reading your works in progress based on these reviews (after giggling at the idiot ones over drinks on Friday with some of their publicist play group friends), are going to give you a nice bullet points and pat you on the back and send you back to work. But self published authors have a different dichotomy and therefore have to take this from a different angle but the advice still stands.

Self-Pub authors have to work harder in different areas. But you can do it! *thumbs up, martini glass raised, extra dirty and with extra olives* Find a defacto-publicist friend, kind of like a critique partner, hell! Use your critique partner, you already trust them! Maybe not your BFF, we tend to go all ninja stalker on the reviewers, dive for the jugular, go for blood, send death threats etc… Try to find someone level headed, someone who can read them for you and give you a rundown if there is a consistent complaint or attaboy/girl comment/s and some good feedback to help with the current work-in-progress.

ninjaI am going to suggest … no I am going to threaten you with Herbert the Ninja Squirrel and withhold all the bacon from you (authors) to not reading these reviews yourself, especially when you need to be producing books at a faster rate than writers who are with a publisher. Let the reviews do what they need to be doing for you without getting your panties in a wad, in other words, find a review buddy! Sure, thank the reviewers on your tours, or don’t but I can say I love having an author thank me, or share my review, good or bad. It shows they are engaging. Don’t hold a reviewer hostage as you do a hostile take over on the blog and thank every single bloody comment and tell the person what you were trying to do, it is creepy. I don’t like people sitting on my porch drinking my hooch without me being present… creeptastic!

IN FACT I am going to challenge all of you authors… I challenge you all to NOT read your reviews for ONE MONTH, who will take my challenge! Go ahead do it! You can let me know you are doing it here or message me! Make yourself accountable and I bet you’ll be able to get more quality work done!

Anyway, that is all… I think if I continue this rant it is going to go rather south and I will start pontificating on things that have no meaning within the general context of what I started off talking about. So go read a book, buy a pair of socks, and write a review! Utilize Yelp and take on the world and don’t let the dick-pistons and naysayers do anything to stop you! Same goes with you, Mr. Author-Man or Ms. Author-Woman.. KEEP WRITING because I want to BUY your book and read it and perhaps tell you what a piece of shit it is or how amazing it is and make my friends all buy it. It is really up to you isn’t it? Oh one other thing, don’t post your bitches about what a bitch-cake I am for saying this publicly on Facebook or Twitter, idiot! We read your feeds! *wink* So who is qualified to write a review? You and I are, in fact I am the best damn book reviewer evah? See? Even someone posted it on the side of a building! Really! See? *giggling*

CabinGoddess-Book-Reviewer

ANYONE can post a review! Go for it! I welcome everyone this year to review books, restaurants, douche brands, fruits and gas stations… go for it! It’s addicting!

35 Comments

  1. Yes, yes, yes on all points. As a matter of fact, I just signed myself up to review 115 books this year and already have my first list of 40. Have I done reviews before? Yes. Was I cruel? No. Was I honest? Yes. I think I’ve got this. Plus it get’s me back into a love of what I was missing that made me want to be a writer in the first place– READING DAMN GOOD BOOKS. I’m stoked even at the tail end of strep throat. Just know as I read your post, I was nodding and uh-huhing and all that good shit. Score!

  2. I am so lusty in love with you right now. Also very self conscious about my reviews but yeah I’m a reader, reviewer and opinionated individual

  3. I just loved this post! I only go read my reviews about every 2 or 3 months. I never comment on them unless it’s to say ‘thanks’, and I only do that on their blogs if it’s posted there. Never, never, never at Amazon, Goodreads, et al. Good, bad, or indifferent, reviews are merely an indication to me that I’m doing a good job or a shitty job. And, most importantly, one bad review doesn’t make or break my day or my commitment.
    Show me some love!

  4. …. You shower at laundromats? I have had a few…. not so happy authors come at me because I haven’t been reading for decades and tell me that I just don’t understand and should have turned down the review… lol I just roll my eyes, tell them my reviews are solely my opinion and they can like it or leave it. one good/bad review does not make/break an author…. the author has a chance to do that all on his or her own… 😛 but the part you caught me off guard at was “Laundromats I shower at” please…. elaborate? as I am curious now… 🙂 *hugs ya*
    Show me some love!

    • LOL yes, I shower at laundromats or when my friends are letting me wash my clothes or are harboring me in their basement when the power was out for over a week. LOL ANYWAY I have no running water and many of the places here don’t so the laundromats have showers in them. I pay $5 bucks for 15 minutes, oh and that includes a towel and a washcloth! YEP, it SUCKS!
      Show me some love!

  5. If my books are reviewed on a blog I typically do thank the blogger, but for Goodreads or Amazon reviews of my books I don’t touch them. I feel like reviewers on those sites don’t want the pressure of knowing the author is watching. But I welcome all reviews on my books, good, bad or in-between, from ALL reviewers. Well said Kriss.
    Show me some love!

  6. Ha! I must admit I never even look if there’s any reviews anywhere on one of my books so this is an easy challenge for me. 🙂
    Why do authors find it so hard not to just accept a review and move on? Even when you give a 4-star you could still get bombarded with mails asking why you didn’t give a 5 if you liked the book that much, well, because I don’t just hand out 5 stars to any book, it has to be exceptionally great, near perfect, or even imo perfect before I give a 5, and that does not happen often. Most books don’t even get a review at all, because they end up in the bin after 10 pages. If the author insists on me writing a review I work my way through the worst of the worst but those authors mostly don’t balk when they get that one star.
    Numbers and statistics, stars and your 4-star lowers my overall rating, boohoo, maybe we should all start to realise that what the review says is ultimately more important than the stars attached. I’ve recently read a review that basically said the book was crap, but the reviewer attached 5 stars none-the-less. How valuable is that 5-star? Or any for that matter if they are handed out like candy?
    I’ll get off my soapbox now and move on to writing some. 🙂
    Show me some love!

  7. Love this blog! I have to admit I read my reviews, but only with my big girl panties on. I can take the good, the bad and the ugly. However, I wish the Goodreads reviewers would add comments to their reviews so that I’d know what they liked or didn’t like about the book. If they did, I could use it as a tool for improving my future books.

    • Good for you! So do you have lace on your big girl panties? *grin* Good for you! Well the thing with Goodreads is it allows for people who are not reviewers to rate them not just review them. I used to rate before I started to review on Goodreads!
      Show me some love!

  8. Great post! When I first read the title I wondered where you would go with it because I thought, wait a minute, anyone can and should review. The only thing I don’t like about being an author is I don’t feel comfortable leaving reviews for the books I read anymore, just star ratings. Heck, Amazon won’t even allow authors to sometimes–and I understand why.

    I’ll take that challenge, but it won’t be much of a challenge for me since I don’t get new reviews very often. That doesn’t usually stop me from looking, though. Hey, at least my vampires don’t sparkle! 😀

  9. I’m with you. Reviews are for readers, not writers, though they help writers get readers. The only qualification for writing a review is having actually read the book.
    Show me some love!

    • Many haven’t read the book. It easy to tell because they do not use the character names or the plot. I have seen the same review over and over again on Amazon. It starts out I really wanted to like book, but… ( Not even the name of the book is mentioned.)

      • Not using the characters names is not a sign they haven’t read the book. I am bad with names, and honestly I can admit if I don’t have the book in front of me and am being a lazy ass I just use protagonist if the name is not in the synopsis. I review to much, this is a sign right there, and I am old.. way to old.
        Show me some love!

  10. I can send my novel :Joe carpenter and the soul of the lost artifact: via email to any reviewers for free. Inbox me. Thanks.

    • Dude. Dick move on my blog. Seriously?? I was gonna trash that but come on. This is an example of what not to do when looking for reviewers. Sheesh.

  11. I accept your challenge. I’ve heard several best selling writers caution people never to read reviews on Amazon or Goodreads. The best story about reviews was from a woman who wrote bondage novels. The book had a nude couple tied together on the front. The reviewer complained the whole book was full of filthy sex scenes. She would know because she read the ENTIRE book. LOL

  12. Okay – I admit it, don’t send Harold after me – I read my reviews. I NEVER comment on them. I do learn from them and often, when I get a really nasty review, I look at the other reviews the person has given to understand their perspective. (Do they like giving nasty reviews? Were they really looking for a different kind of book and I fooled them? ) I have two favorite bad reviews. 🙂 The first (now understand I write a series called, “The Mary O’Reilly Paranormal Mystery Series.” It’s on all my books.) was a one-star that read, “This wasn’t a romance at all, it was more like a paranormal mystery. 🙂 The second was regarding my book “Secret Hollows.” The story is about a child molester/killer who is targeting little boys in a small town. The review – one star – mentioned that he only read the first 20 pages, found it to be like everyone lived in Mayberry and it was sickeningly sweet. When I clicked on other stories he had reviewed, I found that he was interested in Homosexual Erotica. Definitely not what my story was about! I agree with you totally – don’t change because of your reviewers – but as an indie author, I need to listen and learn. (And try not to concentrate on the one bad review when I get 20 5-star reviews.) You have offered excellent advice. Thanks!!!!!

  13. Hi Kriss,
    Brrr, it’s snowing and cold on your blog!
    I agree about not reading reviews, and rarely look at mine. Though it’s encouraging to have good 4/5 star reviews, it’s the less than stellar ones I learn from the most (if they are legitimate).

    As authors, we put ourselves out there and must be able to take criticism along with praise. Responding in any negative way, as I’ve seen some authors do, is cringe-worthy behaviour, and worse yet, completely unprofessional. There is no point having a battle of egos, because everyone is entitled to their opinions, and books, like paintings, music, and other art is subjective.

    eden
    Show me some love!

  14. Great post! I once had an author to become upset because I gave that author’s book only 4-stars. Also upset because I didn’t write what that author thought was more important to the story. I believe consumers buy books because of the reviews. I know I do. If I see too many bad reviews, I’m not buying the book. If I see too many 5-stars consisting of short comments such as “That book was good!” without any details as to why, I’m not buying the book.

    However, I do not enjoy writing negative reviews of books that authors have invested their time. Writing is ambitious, and the writer’s time is just as important as the outcome of the finished product. I prefer that an author gives me a manuscript for critique and honest feedback.
    Show me some love!

  15. there are rules to a review? uh oh! I got tired of reading reviews that just regurgitated the blurb and so I started writing them and address what readers want to know, how did that book make you feel and why? I am lucky to have never had an author go off on me. One new author I told I DNF her book and she said no problem, but if you get a chance try my next book. It is better. And what do you know, it is one of my favorite series now 🙂 (you know her too Kriss… Donna Augustine)
    Show me some love!

  16. Dude. You are so fucking awesome. I wish that I was creative enough to think up and write this shit. I mean, every word is true-fucking-blue. I am totally going to share this with every person/author that I know. Except Drew, because you know he would rather shoot heroin everyday repeatedly than to read reviews of his books. So, yeah. GO ANDREW! (He knows how to roll.)

    Okay toots. I’m out. Love your face madly. xx

    A
    Show me some love!

  17. Great post, Kriss. All true, sound, funny and timely. I do, however, think trad pub authors need to work as hard as self-pubbed authors. They don’t – for the reasons you give (i.e., they think it’s their agent’s and publisher’s job – which it should be, but unless you’re already a bestselling author you can just keep dreaming) – but they should. Ah, but that’s another post for another day 🙂 Love your diatribes.
    Show me some love!

    • I am not saying they don’t need to work as hard, they have to work differently. The dichotomy is completely different. YEP different post different day!
      Show me some love!

  18. I wished I’d seen this post a year and a half ago. I made a HUGE mistake making three comments on Goodreads/social media that I thought weren’t much of anything. All hell broke loose, and even all this time later, I know there are people who almost daily say on GR they won’t read my book because of “Author behaving badly.” Not one of them has ever asked me what I said, or why I said it, they just hear somewhere that “something” was said and do their part to kill future readers of the book by continually rating my book one star. It took a long time to be able to write again, and frankly I still shudder at the unfairness of what happened to my debut novel, even if some of it was my fault for engaging. But it taught me some valuable lessons: Stay away from reviewers, no matter how unfairly they perceive my book or how they insult me or my family personally. I am actually questioning whether I should even write this comment because I am so gun shy, but screw it. I write because I love to write. That’s what I am trying to do now, so back to it for me. Love this post, thank you.

    • That’s exactly what you should be doing. Write for you and nobody else. Reviews are not written for authors, so there is no reason to bother yourself with reading them because everyone is different and that means not everyone will love your book. That’s just a given. And, who cares if they don’t. You wrote the book for you and if you’re pleased with it then that’s all that matters.

      There are way too many bloggers/reviewers that are way too eager for an author to engage with them about a review as there are authors to jump back at the reviewer for not totally loving their book. Sadly, it is a disgusting vicious cycle that is never going to end.

      I am happy that you’re back to writing. I’m ready for another book! xx

      A
      Show me some love!

      • You are right on so many levels! The reviews that authors can get sucked into aren’t the bad ones–I can accept them, and learn from them, but I speak only for myself–it’s the ones that say blatantly wrong information or attack the author personally. I’ve come to realize it’s best for me to just stay away from Goodreads for that reason. I wish I knew why people felt the need to make stuff up. Authors write out of love, not money. It’s hard enough to do it, so the hate feels even more painful. Thank you so much for saying those kind things.

    • Glad you posted and you have my support. I have heard nothing but good things about your books. I ignore those Goodreads bullies myself. Especially since I have had my own experience after I was attacked by an author for a review I wrote. Don’t engage, it is not worth it. If you want to thank an blogger? GREAT, or thank them on Facebook or twitter.. sure, nothing wrong with it. BUT you don’t have to do any commentary or argue with them. Another author today was making comments today “Did they not read the same book?” ON FACEBOOK and her blog. I wanted to tell her “IDIOT” we READ YOUR FEED! *faceplant!
      Show me some love!

      • Thank you so much. Arguing with reviewers who aren’t being honest in the first place never turns out well. (I don’t mean a bad review, I mean the blatant lies I saw on some GR reviews.) I will never do that again. I am a writer, not a debater. 🙂

        • Lisa, you have nothing to worry about. Your first novel was excellent and I believe that the following will be just as great. Like I said, I’m so happy to know that you’re in the process. If it means anything at all, I’m behind you all of the way. xx

          A
          Show me some love!

          • 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 You made my day!

  19. This is excellent advice for any author— I went and shared it.
    I’ve had trolls on anthologies I’ve been published in, but that was good for the books— they got many more genuine reviews after the troll attack.

    I think authors and reviewers can have a wonderful relationship if they just keep their distance and regard for each other intact.
    Show me some love!

    • We can have wonderful relationships even if we do, but it all depends and it is a fine wire to walk on!

  20. Can I just say one more thing? I so often read that ‘it’s cruel to say bad things about a book that a reader has invested so much time and love into’, or similar. Or ‘anyone deserves kudos for just having written a novel’. I say, crap. If you stay in a hotel and get not very good service, or whatever, you don’t write on Trip Advisor that ‘I wasn’t very pleased with the room and the food, but it must be really hard to run a hotel and I admire them just for doing that, so I’m going to give them 4 stars’, do you???!!!

    Similarly, if you pay for a meal in a restaurant that was just average, with some bad bits, you don’t say, ‘yes, but it must have taken them ages to prepare, and cooking for lots of people is really hard, so that’s okay’. I think people who write books (and I get so tired of hearing the word ‘author’) ought to stop thinking they ought to be mollycoddled. We’re not children. Not everyone who tries to do something creative is that good at it. You ever watched American Idol??!!

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