Thursday, March 9, 2006

Yes, I'm Going There

I tend to stay out of review discussions, mainly because at this stage in the game they bore me silly. Writers will always dislike negative reviews. It's in their blood people. Reviewers will always get their back up when attacked because, "Dammit, I was just being honest! It's only my opinion! Ligthen up already - geez!"

And readers tend to be stuck somewhere in the middle.

It's worse if you review for an online publication. Because then not only do authors hate you, but print reviewers think you're some kind of hack with no qualifications. Actually authors think that too - but nevermind.

So let's talk "mean" reviews. The kind of reviews that authors like to claim abound online. The "This author is a moron, her baby is ugly, and she smells bad too" type of reviews.

Um, am I the only one who rarely sees these online? In fact, the only kind of nonsensical "This author sucks big-time!!!!" reviews I ever see online belong over at Amazon. And frankly, who the hell reads those?

I think authors are attacking the wrong fortress myself. By far, the granddaddy of all snide review publications is Kirkus Reviews. That's right - a print publication.

Now your average joe-schmo reader doesn't know Kirkus exists. They're high-falutin' and they cost big bucks. But librarians read Kirkus. More for the entertainment value than anything else.

I ran across a review for Once Upon Stilettos by Shanna Swendson (Yes, it's a sequel to Enchanted, Inc. for those of you interested). The final parting shot?
"If J.K. Rowling had gotten to about page five of her first book and then started reading bad, watered-down romance novels, the result might have looked like this."

Oh ouch! Only Kirkus could get away with that. If I put something like that in an online review I'd likely be spammed within an inch of my life. But I'm not bitter.


Megan Frampton said...

I've read some scathing reviews in the NY Times, too, often written by other authors even in the same genre! Do you think they all get together and wring their hands about how the authors/reviewers aren't being supportive of their genre? I bet not.

I agree 100% with you.

Kate R said...

I don't see that many "those evil reviewers!" posts these days.

But here's a theory, those kinds of posts are often the public airing of the responses that are usually private. Any pal of a writer is going to say "yeah, that reviewer is a spitwad."

I don't care what the genre is, if a writer gets a bad review and tells people she read it, her friends are going to rally around.

The difference might be that romance is such a community, the rallying around is done in public. And do other genre writers tend to make friends with their fans? Maybe science fiction/fantasy? I don't know. . .But I wonder if writers of general or literary fiction get Christmas cards from the people who read their books.

Tara Marie said...

I can honestly say I've never come across a "romance" review that is a scathing as what you and Megan have both mentioned. Obviously, Amazon doesn't count.

Honestly, if you want your genre to be taken seriously, stop the damned whining and suck it up.

The reality is some books really do suck. What, are we supposed to lie or just ignore those as if they don't exist. I don't think so.

I keep saying I'm done with this subject, but it still bugs me.

Wendy said...

I think you bring up an interesting point. Romance is an incestuous genre - but that is one of the things that makes it so great. Authors and readers mingle all the time! And as a general rule, I think romance writers are the nicest people on the planet.

That said, I think a reviewer needs to keep some distance. I had a mystery author recently tell me I was the most "normal" reviewer she knew - mainly because I wasn't clique-y. Authors know I'll "call 'em like I see 'em." Good, bad or indifferent. It might not win me many friends, but I think in the long run that's the best policy. What good is a reviewer if they are not objective?