When I read public reviews and ratings of written works, I’m not overly impressed. While constructive criticism is an enormous aid, anonymous potshots are devoid of help in the continued growth of a writer. The most valued critiques are those sent personally. It shows that the sender took the time to thoughtfully address issues they have with an author’s work.
I stopped reading my own reviews a long time ago. I write because I love to write. Money is nice but it’s not the entire reason I put words on paper. I need to write thrillers and conspiracies. It’s how I see the world.
Not everyone sees the world as I do and the first time someone negatively criticized my work, I went on an ice cream binge that lasted for days. An ice cream hangover is not as fun as it sounds.
I want to send a shout-out to the people who have taken a moment out of their lives to constructively evaluate my work. Your words help me improve as a writer, and, oftentimes, as a person. Thank you.
Then, there’s the other side of the coin. Sniper attacks.
I was looking at books online the other day and a few reviews caught my eye. The one that stood out and still has me laughing was, “Don’t waste your Money!” This was a review for a book offered as a free download. I really wanted to write “moron” in reply to the review, but since I could not effectively critique the reviewer, I’ll write it here as a general catchall for useless reviews.
Mr. Anonymous is the sniper every writer meets. He takes cover in the shadows, shoots and disappears. This person masquerades as a reviewer providing guidance for potential readers, but unless there is merit in the review, both the potential reader and the author lose.
I have a hard time understanding why a regular person becomes a demigod when they hide behind the cloak of anonymity. A person’s identity is their credibility.
Here’s a review of an author’s book that completely missed the mark by an anonymous reviewer and brought the book’s rating down for no reason (copied in all its misspelled glory):
“I wasted money on these book. I like romance not police storys. I do not read police storys. I did not like it.”
The book was under a thriller/detective and crime category. Crime, romance; yeah, it’s easy to see how the reviewer was confused.
When an anonymous review attacks the author personally, it adds a new level to writer angst. A while back, I read the following about a book I ended up purchasing despite the shameful potshot (reviewer’s grammatical errors included):
“A novel should not reek of halitosis. Shame on you. Buy some mouthwash and rinse your mouth out because your write stink. Or better yet, don’t every write again.”
What a horrid way to bring a writer down. A personal attack is the lowest form of reviewing and holds no authority. Shame on YOU, Mr. Anonymous.
An anonymous reviewer revealed the obvious:
“This writer wrote this book to make money. Do not waste money buying this book to line the writer’s pocket with coin.”
Writers write. We also like to eat more than ramen noodles.
The majority of the world produces with the expectation of a return. Very few people work without payment in some form or other. We survive in an economically-driven world. I wonder what this anonymous poster does for a living.
No writer is immune to anonymous criticism. An inflated sense of self-importance is behind every sniper attack:
“Overrated drivel and non-linear plot. Historically inaccurate. Too much mysticism. Spend your money on therapy instead.”
Duck and run, Mr. Anonymous. God is going to be mad at you for ripping The Bible.
Hit and run reviews are a form of cowardice. Would the reviewer who panned a writer’s work say the same thing to the writer’s face? I think they would not or at least, they would be more polite and less snippy. The ability to namelessly post anything has led to an internet playground rife with faceless snipers.
Some of the snipers may have less altruistic reasons for their public denouncements. The community of writers is filled with diversity and there is a harmonious unity to this merry band of authors. The exception is made for a few underhanded individuals who anonymously criticize their fellow writers’ works in order to advance their own. They are the scabs of the writing world.
Writers in the public arena deal with pointless reviews and sniper attacks. Stand behind your words with a real name, Mr. Anonymous. Even if something deserves a place in the garbage can, trashing it anonymously is detrimental to all.
Current enthusiasm is sharpening intangible knives and co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch