Ok, I want to preface this post with this notice: just because I'm talking about reviews, doesn't mean I'm crabbing about getting a bad one. Actually, I haven't read any of my reviews lately because, well, I've been too busy to. Sad, but true.
That said, this post is about the old adage, if you can't say something nice, don't say it at all.
When you're writing a review, there's something to consider. Are you bashing the book, because there are books you just won't like, or are you bashing the author?
It sounds sort of...silly in some ways to ask that question. Sure there will be books you won't like. We all have them. Some books you get to the end and want to cream the character because she demonstrated some serious too stupid to live attributes. Some, you want to pummel the hero because he was almost too hard nosed. Then there are the ones that don't have HEAs or HFNs. Those drive me berserk. I don't expect everyone to get married and tie things in a neat little bow, but doggone it, I want them to at least be together at the end.
Now, that point made, something reviewers can fall into is trashing the author in a review. Let's say, you don't like a book because there's a sexual situation you don't like. The responsible reviewer would say something along the lines of 'the book contains elements which I had a hard time dealing with, but I realize some people do enjoy this act and for those who do, this book is for them' or something like that.
A reviewer who doesn't care for the author might put something like 'this book stunk because the author wrote about unsafe sex. I don't know about you, but just because people do it, doesn't mean the author should include it. I think she should know better than to have characters in this day and age having unprotected sex. Doesn't she know there are diseases out there?'
While the point is made, it's not so much that the reviewer doesn't like the book, but more the choice the author made. Just because the character didn't use a rubber one time, does that truly kill the book? Think about it. The person isn't saying something constructive about the story. They are expressing a personal view and in turn, bashing the author. And really, just because you don't like it, doesn't mean someone else won't eat it up. Some don't mind if the characters go bare, play with food, or use monstrous toys. Yanno?
So my line of reasoning goes... are you writing more about the author and her/his choices or the actual book? My advice? You're in a public domain. Your opinions are yours and protected by the First Amendment. But, look at it this way, just because you are in that public domain, doesn't really give you the right to rip another person apart. Would you want it done to you? Probably not.
As an author, we don't really want bad reviews. We're all of the opinion--yes, it's true--that our work is fantastic and we want you to think that, too. We'd love glowing reviews, but if that's not possible, we'd like intelligently written reviews that say this is what I liked, this is what didn't work for me in the book. Not bashing the author for a character going bare during sex, not because it was in the wrong format, not because you thought the book was overpriced. We realize there will be critics and expect them, but we don't want publicly run through the wringer because the reviewer has a bone to pick. Save that for email or better yet, if you can't say something nice, pass and go to a book you can say something nice about.
Does that make sense? I'm not trying to whine, complain or act pissy. But from having spent a lot of time reading, lots of time writing reviews and lots of time writing...I've been knocked down, kicked, and learned from my scars and souvenirs. If I can share a little of that with you. By all means, I will.
Next week I thought I'd mention pricing. Yup, pricing. Who really sets those prices? Tune in next well. Well, actually you should tune in everyday, but that's up to you.