Friday, May 16, 2014

Reader Defense Force

You're reading Books, Beer and BLOGshit! It's the only blog that sticks up for the rights of readers everywhere. I am your blogger, Mr. Frank!

This round of Books, Beer and BLOGshit deals with sticking up for the readers. Recently, I saw a post on Facebook by a writer regarding a book review he took exception to. It was a review for the book Predator X. It is a sci-fi book that seems to lie somewhere in the short story/novella spectrum that some may refer to as a novelette (I hate that word personally and refuse to use it, but that's another blog post entirely.) What struck me was, after reading the review, I didn't think it was as bad as all the vitriol I saw being spewed over it.

Let's take a look first at the Facebook post. The names of been redacted, it's not the who but the what that is at issue here:
Mr. Facebook Man: How can Amazon allow a review like this? This is fucking ridiculous!

"First of all I haven't read the story so 3..." a review of: Predator X

Comment 1: By the spelling errors, you can tell that he doesn't read much.... Jerk-off...

Comment 2: In a world where social media, blogs and forums don't exist, what other choice does he have but to sound off in an Amazon review? Personally, I salute Commander Dumbshit for making his voice heard in the face of tyranny. Many don't know that the Arab Spring took flight thanks to an irrelevant review of "Beethoven's 5th" entitled "I give oppression one star only because I cannot give a zero"

Comment 3: Wow. Should only be allowed to review what you purchase. He is a ballbag

Comment 4: I was under the impression that you can not review anything unless you purchase it.

Comment 5: Ridiculous. Not sure exactly how Amazon approves reviews during the delay before they're posted, but wouldn't it be easy enough to flag this kind of nonsense? Sheesh.

Comment 6: That is ridiculous! How can they even state a review when their first statement reads: "I haven't read this?"

Comment 7: I reported the review for abuse!! Everyone should do the same and have this taken down.

Comment 8: Reviews like that are just stupid.

Comment 10: What the...?

Comment 11: I reported it for abuse
 Comment 12: On the other hand, the reviewers words speak for themselves...and tell readers more about his education, intellect, and trustworthiness that perhaps he knows.

 Damn. They are all in a tizzy. It must be awful what this reviewer wrote. How dare he have the cajones to speak his mind. How dare he have an opinion! Shame on Amazon for allowing customers to give feedback. Something must be done! Torches and pitchforks, now!

Wait. Let's take a look at exactly what this awful reviewer said before we go maiming people:

This review is from: Predator X (Kindle Edition)
The story maybe great I haven't read it, that being said I wanted to give feedback to the author....I hate buying short stories especially if I have to pay for one story because there are plenty of novels out there to read, I generally van read a 300 page novel in one sitting and that is while taking time to do other things. I want a meal not a snack something to sink my teeth in to, my suggestion is if your going to write short stories (and really that's all a novella is) then publish a series in one volume. I very seldom purchase a novel under 300 pages. When I read an exert and think this could be cool then see it's between 75 to 150 pages it's extremely disappointing. After all there are a ton of new writers to discover where there first novels are the same or cheaper than a short story. As I said this is feedback for the authors I apologize to the readers.

Well, lets see here... The reviewer states that he or she did not actually read the story. Yeah, that's not so good. And he "van" read an "exert", so there is that. But let's put those two points aside. Let's take a look at the guts of this review.

The reader is saying they want a plumper story. Amazon lists this story as 154 pages. I am not familiar with the author but she feels like a self published indie writer. She's asking $3.99 for a 154 page book and doesn't seem to have enough clout to be charging that much in this blogger's opinion. So maybe this reviewer is onto something here. A sparkle of validity in a sea of poor grammar.

The reviewer also states specifically that his/her review is meant for the writer specifically. They are trying to point out what they perceive to be a pricing disparity. The reviewer asks that potential readers disregard the criticism as the review presents concerns for the writer.

Furthermore, despite the negative comments mostly dealing with a pricing issue, the reviewer still rates the book THREE STARS! Damn, I'd take it! A free three star review for a book they never read, what's the problem?

Look, the writers who complained are correct. You should never post a review of something you have not read. But, I think that is where their concerns should end. The poor grammar in the review should be overlooked, not everyone is a writer and readers shouldn't be expected to execute at that level. The grammar should demonstrate to those reading the reviews, the quality of the feedback.

 Next, you can't cry foul at Amazon for allowing reviews like this. The system needs to be open. Indie writers especially should understand this. When they give out review copies of their work it is with the hope that the free review copies will lead to reviews being posted on outlets such as Amazon. If limit that ability to only people who have purchased the book you will defeat you publicity and marketing campaigns. Not only that, but it will not stop someone who actually does pay $3.99 for this book to still post valid complaints about the pricing.

Lastly, and I think it's a point everyone who got upset with this review missed, it was a three star review. That's pretty damn good even for a good review. So the reviewer had a problem with the price of the book in relation to its length, noted that the feedback was directed at the author not the reader and STILL gave it a three star review. Do you see what they did there? They did not upset the fair balance of the star average by blasting it for 1 star. It seems a completely fair exchange to me.

In the end, the big point is this: Don't ever shit on a reviewer. I watch writers beg and plead for reviews all day long, day in and day out. Then when I see writers get angry about some of the reviews they get, I get upset. I am a reader and a reviewer. What is the motivation to continue reviewing your work or any other writers if this is how I see my honest opinion being received?

Think about that.

1 comment:

  1. You are such a blast to read. Hoping to make your vaunted guest list some day soon, either on your cast or here on the blog.