Before You Say You Suck

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Before I started writing I read all the time. Not having a book to read filled me with dread. I’ve been known to read the backs of cereal containers, toilet paper blurbs – anything. My writing trip started very recently, but it really is all encompassing now. I live and breathe my book worlds. Just lately there have been all sorts of troubles with fake, nasty, and jealousy induced reviews popping up. This really pains me. If you look at my reviewer profile you’ll notice that I only ever give five star reviews. This doesn’t mean that I’m a sycophant. If I think a book is worth less than five stars I don’t leave a review at all. I just really, truly believe that as a writer – and a newbie writer at that – it’s really not my place to trash and burn any other scribblers efforts at all.

I take more notice of a book review written by someone who has never so much as scribbled an essay than an award riddled author. I’ve been a reader all my life, and I have hero writer guys who I would defend to the death, regardless of typos, weird characters, or outrageous plots. Hello Robert Rankin. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – if you are an indie author – and not Stephen King – be careful who you trash. Not purely for the possibility that the guy – or girl – who you rain turds on might have a staunch following and squish you like a bug on the old world wide web, but because it’s just not cool.

It’s really true. Everyone’s a critic now, but think before you leap into the fray as a writer. You know how hard it is to pen a book, and you know how painful it is to be told that you suck. Think before you head under the four star train smash. Sometimes it’s kinder to just shut up.

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33 thoughts on “Before You Say You Suck

    glenperk said:
    October 2, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    Jo, this is where we differ. I don’t give five star reviews at all. My feeling is I can’t bring myself to lie to any readers who may use my review as a leaning point. I don’t want to be the person someone blames for buying a subpar book. Be honest, it’s always the best way.

    Glen

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      jorobinson176 responded:
      October 2, 2013 at 5:25 pm

      Much as I’m weakened by your gorgeous and manly physique, dear Glen, I have to disagree. I honestly think that indie authors have no place as reviewers. We are all untested and published under our own auspices, so what right do we have to seriously comment? Unless you are a real biggie, I strongly feel that badly commenting on someone else’s book is not cool. We – as the new breed of writers – should be finding ways to improve – but I really don’t think we should weigh in on reviewing negatively.

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        glenperk said:
        October 2, 2013 at 5:36 pm

        We should not lie, Jo. If I read a five star review or rating and I find the book awful, I will not trust the book’s author again. Or the reviewers. I’m not disparaging the author but I’m focussing on the writing. Just because you can publish a book doesn’t mean you should. Especially, if the author forgoes the editing process. Putting out bad books doesn’t help anyone. Not the reader, not the author. How do we get better? By people telling us what we do wrong. But if everyone gives dishonest high reviews, no one gets better.

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          jorobinson176 responded:
          October 2, 2013 at 5:55 pm

          I totally agree that we shouldn’t lie Glen – that’s why I choose not to leave reviews of books I really don’t like. My point is that I think we should leave reviewing to readers – not writers. I personally had no recourse to editors because of sanctions in Zimbabwe – no Paypal for me for cover design or proofreaders for me. I just think that not weighing in is a good way forward for writers – no matter how crap the book is that they’ve just read. WRITERS are writers – not reviewers. Or at least I don’t think that they should be.

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            glenperk said:
            October 2, 2013 at 6:02 pm

            We will respectfully disagree, Jo. Selective reviews are deceptive to me. And leaving any kind of rating or reviews for any book directly influences readers. As a writer I would be ashamed of myself for having people pay me to read a book that’s not good. It will never help me become a better writer. If it’s free, no harm no foul. But if it has a price it needs to be at minimum readable.

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              jorobinson176 responded:
              October 2, 2013 at 6:13 pm

              OK – I really don’t understand any of those methods of payments, but I do totally respect your opinion, and also your right to voice your opinion. I don’t think that leaving a bad review can in any way improve anyone’s writing, and I’m sticking to my guns here. If writers just stuck to writing and not reviewing, we wouldn’t have half the trouble we’re having now with toxic reviews. And indie writers only have their own experience to call on. They can be as nasty as they like, and if they have three or ten published books – no matter how crap they all are – that apparently lends credence to their opinions. Again – let the READERS do the reviewing.

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                glenperk said:
                October 2, 2013 at 6:19 pm

                To be fair, my guest post would be along these lines. Since we differ on what’s appropriate, I don’t have to be a guest blogger. I hold no ill feelings if you decide that. Not that I won’t do it still. And toxic reviews don’t just come from other authors.

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                  jorobinson176 responded:
                  October 2, 2013 at 6:31 pm

                  This is all just lively debate as far as I’m concerned Glen. I’ve been wrong so many times in my life that I wouldn’t dream of EVER denying anyone their opinion. So – now – your guest post just sounds a whole lot more exciting, considering that it will be posted here. Bring on all your lovely views my friend – I might not agree with them yet – just not today – but still – I’m totally keen to share them. 🙂

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                    glenperk said:
                    October 2, 2013 at 6:45 pm

                    Okay, Jo. I’ll get it finished this weekend. I promise.

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                      jorobinson176 responded:
                      October 2, 2013 at 6:52 pm

                      Thank you my lovely friend – I’m sorry if I inserted myself into your nostril. Now – go run around the block – good for the metabolism. 😉

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                      glenperk said:
                      October 2, 2013 at 6:53 pm

                      Hahaha, you can insert any time.

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                      jorobinson176 responded:
                      October 2, 2013 at 6:59 pm

                      Well – I have seen your pics…. – 😀 🙂 😉

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                      glenperk said:
                      October 2, 2013 at 7:01 pm

                      🙂

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    francisguenette said:
    October 2, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    When it comes to going public with a book review, I agree with your perspective, Jo. We all have our own personal opinions but writing is hard work and making public a scathing review says as much about the reviewer as the book under review. I know I’m naïve – but I wish the internet could be a tad more transparent so we could know that everyone out there we interacted with was a real person – I think that would be a start down the road to internet civility.

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      jorobinson176 responded:
      October 2, 2013 at 6:21 pm

      It’s a jungle out there I think Francis. It’s hard enough trying to be a writer without bringing all the review wrath down on our heads. I’ll never stop believing that any writer who delivers a scathing review – deserved or not – is not opening themselves up to a world of pain. It’s just not worth it. I reckon – just do what you do and write on – leave the critical teardown fests to those who have nothing to lose.

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    kizzylee said:
    October 2, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    with you all the way on this one, you echo my thoughts completely, stay lovely my friend hugs xx

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      jorobinson176 responded:
      October 2, 2013 at 6:24 pm

      Your humility is the most amazing thing, considering how many awesomely terrifying books you have out there. You are one of those Godly scribblers who I really would defend to the death, because that’s what you do – you write the magic – and take us all away. Thank you Kizzy Lee! XXX

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    Kev said:
    October 2, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    Stay true to your heart Jo. I would rather people not leave a review of my own works than have them leave a bad one. I’m not saying I can’t take it…it’s just how I would do it.

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      jorobinson176 responded:
      October 3, 2013 at 1:25 am

      I don’t mind the low reviews from non-writers. I do think that it’s hard enough to make it as an independent publisher without squishing each other. You read so much about us being some sort of ridiculous joke in the publishing world in general. And now with the review shambles still going on, we’re going to justify those statements if we’re not careful. There’s naming and shaming going on all over the place and I’ve really been relieved that I’ve chosen not to comment negatively publicly on fellow scribblers work.

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    Constance said:
    October 2, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    That is a really good point, Jo about not leaving a review less than five stars. I am going to adapt a modified version of your rule. But I think sometimes, something is better than nothing. So i’m going to stick with 3 and above.

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      jorobinson176 responded:
      October 3, 2013 at 1:20 am

      That’s cool too Constance. I love all the reviews I have – the one star too :D. This is just my way at the moment. I reserve the right to change my mind later and splash low ratings all over the place. It wouldn’t be cool though for indies to end up in a horrible bubble where the majority of our readers are other indies because we’ve scared off the average readers with maybe too harsh reviews.

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    John W. Howell said:
    October 2, 2013 at 10:39 pm

    I have to agree with you Jo. All reviewers do not need to protect all readers. I can’t imagine being tipped over to spend my dollars on a book because a reviewer said so. Just don’t review the book. Who cares?

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      jorobinson176 responded:
      October 3, 2013 at 1:15 am

      True John. Only actual sales effect rankings anyway. (Non-writer) reviewers are absolutely essential, whether they leave one star or five. I just think that some of us scribblers overanalyse sometimes, and indies especially should be supporting each other, rather than giving way to the urge to pontificate. Some indie writers leave really honest reviews, but there are enough really bad ones I reckon, for us to be looking at ourselves and wondering if attacking our own is the way to go.

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    jastaunque said:
    October 3, 2013 at 11:52 am

    While I could see a fair point in Glen’s view, I totally support Jo. Not just because I love the way she feels, thinks and expresses but also for the reason that in most cases, especially in the virtual world, even negative reviews can be far from honest. Jo, in addition to your writing, I respect and admire your sense of fairness.

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      jorobinson176 responded:
      October 7, 2013 at 8:36 am

      Thank you Jas! We think along the same lines you and I, I believe. Glen’s post is due up here today, and I bet we both agree with him too. Maybe it’s easier being a book reviewer if you don’t write at all. You have no fear of retaliation – and that’s a real possibility these days – so you can be brutally honest. Also, maybe writers read from a different perspective. I definitely notice things these days that I never would have when I was just a reader, and I could easily have left loads of bad reviews by now – but – I’ve made more than enough mistakes to appreciate a quiet word in my ear rather than a public berating from a fellow scribbler. I love reading reviews from guys who only read on Amazon and around and about – ones to fives – all’s fair there if they’re sharing their honest opinion. 😀

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    mari wells said:
    October 9, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    I agree Jo. If I don’t like the book I won’t review it, and I don’t review we’ll known authors. The time I spend reviewing is for Indie authors.
    I hope people understand my good review of a book is only my opinion and it should be taken as such, if we have similar tastes (if you read my blog, we should) you should like the novel I liked, but you might not. I might not review anymore, that seems easier. lol

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      jorobinson176 responded:
      October 10, 2013 at 3:25 am

      I LOVE your blog, so I definitely will like what you do. I’m still going to be wary about what I personally say publicly about books. I’ve got around fifteen that I’ve zoomed through and liked, so I’ll read them each properly & leave reviews for them, but after that I think you’re right – stay right out of reviewing. LOL! 😀

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    Daniel Nest said:
    October 22, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    Not sure I fully agree. You don’t have to get caught up between the two extremes – 5-star review and “trashing” of someone’s book.

    There must be ways to leave average reviews while offering actionable, constructive criticism beyond “This book sucks *fart noise*”.
    Sure, it would require some more finesse and careful wording, but it can be done.

    Personally, I’d rather people pointed out weak points I could work on than blindly praised my flawless work. Nobody has every learned anything from getting thumbs up all the time.

    Then again, what do I know? I haven’t even written a single quality toilet paper blurb!

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      jorobinson176 responded:
      October 23, 2013 at 1:49 pm

      Oooh – it’s really cool to see you here Daniel! I’ve been stalking following your Nest Expressed blog, and loving it – especially your “true” stories. Hilarious and your writing is awesome – I’ll buy your books for sure. I agree with you actually – I’ve had my scribbles reviewed by writers and I’ve totally taken on board what they’ve said. I personally won’t ever leave a public bad review though – mainly because I read as a writer these days, with the critic turned on more than before I started writing. Also, I’m a craven coward and scared of vengeful scribblers throwing bricks through my windows. 😀

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        Daniel Nest said:
        October 23, 2013 at 1:54 pm

        Ha. Yup, I saw you liked a few posts so I decided to come over here and vomit in your comments to have my revenge. Who is laughing NOW?!

        Glad you’re enjoying the true stories, although your use of quotation marks implies that you think I’m lying. And I tried so hard, even going as far as putting “true” right there in the title! Oh well.

        Yeah I see your point: it’s a small world, who knows when your harsh words will come back to haunt you?!

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