The Fine Art of Reviewing

ETA: Amazon is now apparently deleting all author-penned reviews, so some of my points are now moot. [link] However, it’s still a good soapbox in general, so feel free to keep reading.

Lately I’ve seen a disgusting amount of author bashing in reviews. I don’t generally go on diatribes and I don’t usually respond to such people, but yesterday was the last straw. Last night I was doing my favorite thing ever: link surfing. It’s like wikiing, only without confining yourself to Wikipedia. Somehow, I ended up on the Amazon page for IN THE FORESTS OF THE NIGHT by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes. One of the reviews I looked at was appalling! I don’t care if you like a book or not, there are some rules of etiquette you need to follow whether you are a top 100 reviewer or a bottom 100,000.

First of all, if you are a fellow writer I congratulate you. That, however, does not give you license to say how much better your accomplishments are. Especially without quantifying them. Saying that you also published a book at thirteen and that it was twice as long and a million times better does not hold water if you don’t give us a link or tell us the title. Also, I have friends that are both self-published and traditionally published. DO NOT make light of the process either kind of author goes through. It takes blood, sweat, tears and voodoo dolls to get all your pretty typed ducks in a row for publication. If it didn’t, then you did something WRONG.

Secondly, to be taken seriously you should not use words like “stupid” “wtf” et cetera. Please, show that your intelligence and maturity level is high enough to properly understand the book you are reviewing. I don’t care if it’s less than 200 pages and you’re under eighteen. Grow up. Reviews are to help other people decide whether or not they will buy a book. Saying the name of a character is stupid does not accomplish that. Saying you would have written a scene differently does not accomplish that. Saying that the names of the characters and/or their particular actions made it difficult for you to maintain your submersion in the narrative does.

Thirdly, for the love of all that is good and holy and light USE PROPER GRAMMAR, SPELLING, PUNCTUATION and CAPITALIZATION. PLEASE! I personally cannot take your review with even a modicum of seriousness if you don’t. Especially when you are proclaiming how much better of a writer you are. “I” is always capitalized, only one period comes at the end of a sentence, and spell check is your friend. And don’t tell me that your browser doesn’t have spell check. Almost all browsers have free add-ons, and if you don’t want to bother then download Chrome. Your pages will load faster and you will have instant spell check.

Fourthly, I would like to return to my original point. Do NOT author bash. It is neither constructive, nor does it build your networking skills. Someday you too might publish something that people might actually want to review. When that day comes you will not want another author to come along and say, “man, her work sux… i’ll never read anything by her again!! my book is totally better… check it out!” Always remember that karma’s a bitch. While you do not have to think that sunshine and roses comes out of any given author’s ass, it does well to remember that one day they may be just the author your agent wants to blurb your book.

Disagree with kindness. Review the material only. Write with maturity.