10 January 2012

A new Sport? Author Bashing

Forget the old cruel sports of throwing Christians to lions, cock fighting and bear baiting. The advent of the Internet, social media forums and sites such as Goodreads and Amazon etc have opened up a whole new field sport.
Author Bashing.
Mwah ha ha :-{
I came across this the other day: ‘It is disappointing that some authors can't handle constructive criticism and only want adoration.’
Actually, most mainstream published authors (at least, the Historical Fiction ones I know)  do not object to constructive criticism. We welcome constructive feedback from our readers because we like to know where we are getting things right – or wrong. Constructive criticism is helpful.
Note that particular word: constructive.

Yes, of course we want nice things said about our books. Wouldn’t you be hurt if you spent hours getting yourself ready for a special party, you walk in and the first person you meet sneers “You look a right tart. Couldn’t you find a hairbrush – and as for that repulsive dress….” I would wager you would turn right round and flee, tears streaming. Yet it is fine to say something similar to an author!
Not everyone has the same taste in reading – thank goodness, what a boring world it would be if we all liked the same stuff – and it is fair enough to say “I didn’t enjoy this book” – but give a constructive reason; why didn’t you like it? Don’t just trash the author. If the book is so bad it needs to be publically shredded and fed to the dustbin, then why did you read the wretched thing in the first place? I don’t have time to read dross (and yes, some books are dross!) If the narrative hasn’t grabbed me by chapter five, then I give up on it and move to the next book in my size of Everest To Be Read Pile. Nor do I waste time or energy in slagging off the author because I didn’t like the book – what is the point? I get more pleasure in praising something I enjoyed reading…. Ah but here we come back to what I stated above. It seems there are some people out there who like throwing dung at those of us who have managed to get into print. I wonder why? Jealousy, frustration at not being in print themselves? General ignorance and nastiness?

Review forums, snarky groups and pages on Facebook and the Twittersphere seem to attract these destructive comments like gulls to a rubbish tip. I think virtually every author has discovered that once a book is in print it becomes open season for vicious remarks.
And again I emphasise here – there is a big difference between saying you did not enjoy a book, and giving the reason why you did not enjoy it, and blatant, vindictive trashing.
In too many cases recently things seem to have evolved into a general marketplace where anything can be said at any time and in any tone – and authors are expected to take outright abuse because we have been published.
What, I ask, have we done to deserve this public placing in the stocks and being pelted by verbal rotten tomatoes?

Is the opinion “If an author can’t take criticism he/she shouldn’t write” really a general view – or the bleating of a mere few who enjoy being spiteful? And believe me, some of these “critics” can be extremely spiteful!
Do these people have any idea how much work goes into research, or what marketing expectations force authors to make certain decisions? Decisions that are often out of our hands because the publisher insists such and such is what they want in order to sell the book?
I have received a 1 star review for my book because the reviewer was angry that the title had been changed. I assure you I am as annoyed – but blame the publisher, not me; and did the book deserve a one star? After all Amazon accepts returns – send it back for heaven sake.

I have been “miffed” at receiving poor reviews when it comes to typos, incorrect punctuation etc – again because these have, on the whole, not been my fault but the publisher – and I can’t blame the small Indies here either, there are some awful typos in mainstream published books.
Fair enough to say “This book would have been a lot better if there had not been so many commas in the wrong place” – but is it really fair to completely trash the whole book because of a couple of obvious printing errors?
I received a scathing comment of one of my novels from a US reader who trashed my writing because I had dared (in his/her opinion) to make an ignorant error. “This author has no idea of her facts. Corn,” said this reviewer sarcastically, “grows in the US – so how could King Arthur have fed CORN to his horses circa 500 AD? Don’t touch this book, it is badly researched. I got as far as this nonsense and canned the book.“
I was furious because in this case the ignorance was entirely this arrogant reviewer’s.
Corn in the UK does not mean maize. It is an equine term for horses fed on oats and barley – race horses are “corn fed”, it is a legitimate, correct, term.  I responded to the reviewer and politely requested that the review be removed.
But according to one book reviewer, anyone who took exception to her review comments must be an author plant. What? Is this reviewer saying that no one can publically disagree with her opinion? Did I, in her pomposity have to swallow the incorrect example I have just given above then?

I found this at random:
“Complete Uninspiring twaddle........slow..........dull and full of lame clichés.
Anyone wanting a decent read should avoid like the plague.”
Why be so nasty? OK, in your opinion a book is not very good –  do you have to be so horrible about it?
To my mind, the above example is not a review it is blatant, vindictive, nastiness.

I have been in tears through some of the nasty things said about my books  - because the tone has been vicious, not because the reader didn’t like the book. And is it just me? Why be scathing with words like “this was too violent, the battle scenes were awful” when the novel is about the most famous battle in English history – 1066 the Battle of Hastings. Isn’t it obvious that there will be descriptive battle scenes? So if you don’t like battles don’t read a book about a battle!

 And what about the condescending dissing of historical fiction that is inaccurate?
First and foremost the key word here is FICTION. Historical Fiction is not non-fiction – any story of HF is just that – a made up STORY.
Yes, it is lovely to read a well written, well researched historical novel (I cite Sharon Penman and Elizabeth Chadwick)  But is it fair to rubbish a novel that is obviously meant as pure fiction, where in the author’s note clearly states “this is a work of fiction. None of it is true.”
I do agree, however, if the author is foolish enough to harp on about his or her various qualifications, how important historical accuracy is lah lah lah – and then makes obvious bloopers then he or she is fair game for attack.
Is it fair to trash an author because he or she decides to use easy to pronounce names instead of unfamiliar ones?
Not all readers are up to speed with say, Welsh or Latin or Old English personal names. For Forever Queen (titled A Hollow Crown in the UK)  I had several comments asking “Why use all those unpronounceable names? Were they necessary?”
Well yes, because they were the recorded names of real characters. Strictly speaking I should have used Ælfgifu for the main female character – but fortunately she was also known as Emma. But where I had to make up names I made up easy, familiar names. In my Arthurian Trilogy I had to use Gwenhwyfar because that is the Welsh version of Guinevere – and Llachue, Amr and Gwdre for her sons, again because they are the recorded names – but when I made up characters I settled for Madoc, Mabon, Elen…..
Take that wonderful novel The Clan of the Cave Bear. Shouldn’t we be trashing Jean Auel because she used names? Shouldn’t she have been accurate and used grunts?

So please, may I make a heartfelt plea for all authors? We write novels because we love writing. We write books to entertain you the reader – very, very, few of us write books to make money.

It takes us months – sometimes years – to get a novel written. Please, then, grant us the courtesy of reviewing our hard work properly, even if it is, in your opinion, a load of twaddle,  review it in a courteous, constructive manner.
After all, the only person you are showing up by being discourteous, ignorant, and rude is yourself – not the author.

A final thought - if you can't say anything nice, 
then maybe it is best to say nothing at all.

I wonder how many non-constructive comments I will receive for speaking my thoughts? Any rudeness will not be deleted.... but I can guarantee a scathing response....

A similar article on Trolls & how to handle rude comments is on:
Kristen Lamb's Blog


  1. Lovely, heartfelt, and true post. It is nice to read that you categorize "author" as the lead universe, and not "traditionally published" and self-published" as unrelated entities. Thank you.

    I've tweeted your link and will continue to do so, as I believe your points are well worth reading by a broad spectrum of readers and writers.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Well written from the heart, and no doubt all creative types can relate to it. I have never understood the need for some individuals to give nasty, hurtful feedback. I go by 'give feedback honestly but kindly, even (and most especially) with constructive criticism, of anyone's creation. And never speak to another human being in a manner/tone in which I would not want to be spoken to myself.'

    I think the entire 'internet' has emboldened these insecure meanies as they can type out hurtful comments somewhat anonymously online. They are not face to face with the writer, therefore find it easy to be rude. Pity.

    I wouldn't bother with a bad review either. But I do believe in giving praise when I have been moved by a book or design. And when asked for feedback, I do my best to be tactful, honest and constructive about the not so good parts along with always pointing out what is brilliant.

  4. Good article Helen. Mind you it is not ONLY reviewers who can sometime be scathing without being constructive.

    Sometimes other authors can be very negative. Certainly a published author once had ago at me because I am Indie published and was commenting on an article somewhere. Told me to return to the day job and leave the comments to authors who have agents.

    Another issue is reviewers who don't check facts FIRST before posting. Thus your CORN one and in my case someone saying one of mine was basically the same as an existing published book without first checking publication dates.

  5. I agree with the other comments, it was a thought provoking and honest piece. Well said, Helen.

    I was given a piece of advice once on reviewing other authors work:

    If you enjoy the book, write that review, tell everyone! If you hate the book, let the author know in a private, respectful and constructive manner.

    D Michelle Gent

  6. I totally agree Helen. Publicly trashing authors is totally not on in my opinion. Sometimes people dont realise how 'open' some forums are and that it is quite easy for others to tell them whats being said. Facebook and other social networking sites can be such good things but they are also very bad especially when people are not able to have that meaning ful facetoface discussion that makes sense of things when it is needed.In the days before the internet, authors were these mystical, legendary, respected creatures who were simply the creators of other worlds. Now with the advent of the internet,sadly human fragility comes into play and people can get the wrong end of the stick about what is being discussed. I think people need to be more sensitive about what they write however, people should still be allowed to comment about books as long as they do it and keep the dignity of the author in mind at all times.

    Many thanks for this post

    regards Paula

  7. Some good points - and yes Richard I meant "reviewers" in all senses of the word i.e. someone who leaves a comment about a book on a public site.
    Constructive criticism is : "loved the book but maybe another proof read would be in order as there were rather a few typos"
    destructve is: "this is obviously a vanity published book as it is a load of rubbish."
    And I am aware authors can be capable of being catty as well - but the rule "what you send out comes back three fold" should maybe always be remembered?

  8. Nicely said, Helen. I think most authors try to use criticism positively. Not much you can do with outright nastiness. :)

  9. Well said, Helen, and an excellent article - I'm now following your blog, and look forward to visiting again and reading more about you!

    As an aspiring author nearing the end of the first draft of my very first novel, this is very important for me to read - and your words are encouraging in a world that can, sometimes, be very discouraging. Bravo for speaking out for writers everywhere!

  10. Sheryl & Julie - thank you. (Good luck with the book Julie, stick at it!)

    a similar article by Kristen Lamb may also be of interest:


    I've added the URL to the article above as a direct link to save you cutting & pasting

  11. I am so glad you pointed this out. It made me feel so much better when before I was feeling lonely because of rejection from some of my peers saying that I'd never make it in the industry because I can't accept all criticisms as wonderful when I do that very thing the majority of the time.

    I am not published, but I did get my query critiqued on a site before. I write about female necromancers and this man came who was obviously extremely ignorant and told me that I made up the word necromancers and that females obviously couldn't be necromancers and that I should give up on writing entirely because I was a huge idiot who should never write another word again because I didn't know how to do my research.

    Of course, I got angry. There were pages and pages of critiques of what I did wrong and I accepted those gladly, but this comment made me mad. I didn't call the guy names, but I showed him that the dictionary had the word necromancer in it and while I was complimented by the fact that he thought I was so profound to have invented the concept and the idea that women could be necromancers, that wasn't the case and listed examples of people who had done the same thing before me. I wound up deleting my query because of it.

    And you know what? I was told countless times by people on the site that I overreacted and the owner implied that if I did so again, I wouldn't be allowed to post on there anymore.

    It hurt me greatly that someone insulted me so ignorantly without even reading a word of my novel and because I didn't thank them for it, I was a little brat to everyone. Not the case at all.

    I do expect in the future to just plain ignore people who comment to me like this at least publically because no other course of action is accepting, but I'm not a bad or horrible person if I cry about it or get angry over it in private. I'm just a human, not a robot and I worked hard to write the things I've had. Even if they do suck, I'm still learning and trying and working very hard.

  12. E.B. Black - short answer is: it was your story, it was obviously a fantasy story so you could make up whatever you wanted! That's the point of fantasy! So even if there aren't female necromancers .... so what?

    e-mail me so we can chat in private. author(AT)helenhollick(DOT)net

  13. Great post!

    I think a lot of reviewers DO forget that authors actually read their reviews -- after all, many if not most reviewers are writing for the benefit of other readers, rather than offering real "critique" to the authors. I know whenever an author responds to one of my reviews, I'm startled, because I always figured they just went into a slush pile for the publicist's use rather than actually being read over by the author.

    However, this may be an unpopular position to take, but a lot of authors are (somewhat understandably) overly-sensitive to ANY criticism. Don't get me wrong, there's NO EXCUSE for a reviewer or commenter to personally attack the AUTHOR. None.

    However, when a reviewer says that a BOOK was absolute rubbish, even if they're snarky or sarcastic about it, I don't personally agree that this is an "attack" on the author at all -- it's really just the emotional response of a reader who was disappointed and dissatisfied with their experience with the book. When readers spend hard-earned money on a book, they do so with the expectation that they will be entertained -- after all, why else read fiction? So when a book turns out to be lower quality than expected going into it, disappointment and sometimes even anger is going to be the result. Certainly, it would be nice if everyone was polite when discussing things that they didn't enjoy about a story, but books are something that people feel passionately about -- whether positively or negatively -- and this passion is going to come out in the reviews.

    For example, saying the characters were boring and had no chemistry, that the love scenes made me yawn and read like a high-school anatomy lesson, and/or that the plot twist in Chapter 14 was so glaringly obvious as early as Chapter 2 that anyone looking for a real mystery should certainly look elsewhere, are not attacks on the author. Yet, I've seen authors respond very negatively and emotionally to similar comments in reviews.

    Also, as far as the punctuation or grammar goes, it's true that many of those errors are the result of faulty conversions (especially in the case of ebooks) or not having a competent copy-editor. However, as a reader, they're still incredibly distracting, and often take away a large amount of the entertainment value of the story, which results in a lower overall rating. After all, if a reader has to stop and try to decipher what a sentence actually said, it pulls them out of the action, just as a shoddy editing job or cheap special effects would do while watching a movie. So yes, the rating would be lower on a book that has a lot of formatting, grammatical, and/or spelling errors, regardless of whose "fault" those errors really were.

    I, too, tend to DNF books that don't capture my attention by Chapter 5. However, I do review those books AS DNF's because those who trust my reviews deserve to know why I couldn't even bring myself to finish it -- after all, if they have similar tastes to mine, chances are, they won't like it either and I can save them some money. This means that yes, a DNF book would receive what most would consider to be a "negative review", and in forums where it is impossible to not include a star rating when reviewing (such as Amazon), the result would be a 1 Star.

    I definitely do see the author's perspective, and as an artist myself (though certainly not a writer), I know the sting of harsh criticism, whether "constructive" or not. However, as a reviewer, it is my responsibility to my readership to be completely honest about my experience with any given book, and unfortunately this means that I am going to step on toes and bruise tender feelings along the way.

    TL;DR I definitely see your perspective, but am strongly Team Reviewer ;)


  14. The Romanceaholic: I am mainly talking about the "amateur" reviewer Jess, on Amazon in particular, not the experienced Blog Reviewer who has been sent a book to review either by the author or publisher - the sort of person who only "reviews" a book to be spiteful to the author is hurtful - and sadly there are quite a few of them. (i.e. the one I mentioned above was not a genuine review but very much a Bash the Author comment.)

    And as it has been discovered recently the opposite can happen – the “planted” ‘wow this book is great’ by obvious friends and one or two by the author under alias names.
    Both the above can usually be spotted if you look how many reviews these people have made & where – more than likely just one or two, usually with the same author.

    On the whole I agree with you, the point of reviewing a book is to either recommend or not recommend it, however, taking your example of

    ".... ‘the characters were boring and had no chemistry, the love scenes made me yawn and read like a high-school anatomy lesson, and the plot twist in Chapter 14 was so glaringly obvious as early as Chapter 2 that anyone looking for a real mystery should certainly look elsewhere,’ are not attacks on the author. Yet, I've seen authors respond very negatively and emotionally to similar comments in reviews"

    in my opinion this IS an attack on the author. You've basically said the author hasn't a clue how to write. Even if he/she hasn’t a clue I would rather be nice about it rather than nasty.
    I would have worded such a review as follows:

    The descriptive scenes of the countryside and the tension towards the end of the book were very good, (i.e something positive about the book) however, I found the characters had nothing special about them, I even thought them a little boring as they had no chemistry between them, and the love scenes were without emotion and too clinical so they read like a high-school anatomy lesson. The plot twist in Chapter 14 was somewhat glaringly obvious as I picked it up as early as Chapter 2, so anyone looking for a real mystery should certainly look elsewhere.

    That is commenting on the book not the author as it is worded a little less harsh.

    Having said all that – no authors shouldn’t get shirty about reviews. As I said in the article above, it would be a sad world if we all like the same things to read – a second reviewer might comment how much the reader enjoyed the chemistry between the characters and found the love scenes highly emotional.

    I wrote a similar article to this a short while ago, the second part of which is about commas.

    My final conclusion is – if the story is exciting enough and well written enough, the reader doesn’t notice the smaller errors – but if the book, for whatever reason, hasn’t grabbed the reader.... the opposite is the result.

    So in summery – yes authors DO read reviews. Yes authors do get upset, but no authors should not rant & rave about a bad review.... if it is a well written review with constructive criticism, take the comments on board. Maybe the characters are a bit boring, the love scenes unexciting and the book is full of incorrectly placed commas and clichés. In which case – either ignore the comment or get the thing re-edited or do better with your next novel.

    The key here then is to be constructive, not destructive.

    Oh and for a bit of lighter advice:

  15. (Sorry in advance for when there are all caps -- it wouldn't let me use italics. Also, this is going to be a two part comment, because apparently I'm too wordy for Blogger lol!)

    Yea I love a healthy (and respectful) debate :D

    I disagree that my example would be an attack on the AUTHOR and not the book itself.

    You say that the harsher wording makes it an attack on the author because it insinuates that they don't know how to write. However, the way you've reworded it is similar enough that even your own softer wording is still saying that the author hasn't a clue how to write -- after all, an author who "knew how to write" would presumably be able to create characters that the reader would care about, create chemistry between protagonists (at least in a romance), write sexy love-scenes (if the intention is to be a sensual or erotic read), and craft a plot twist that was not cliche and predictable. Would they not?

    For example, what if you didn't find the characters to be "a little" boring, or the plot twist to be "somewhat" glaringly obvious? What if the characters were so incredibly boring that you skimmed over half of the dialogue and only finished the book at all because it was required for your book club? (It happens.) Or that the twist was SO obvious you only finished the book because you were hoping and praying that the twist would really be something spectacular in the end and that your assumptions about where it was going were completely wrong? (I've had that happen before - that it seemed cliche then blew me away with a DIFFERENT twist in the end, so that's a realistic scenario for many readers.)

    In those cases, it wouldn't IMHO be correct to "soften" the review up a bit with the more gentle qualifiers like "somewhat" or "a little", because that would make it seem like the book was better than it really was, and that's not fair to the other readers who come across the review.

    I did want to point out, though, that I actually DO include positive points in my own reviews (I use the "What worked for me/What didn't work for me" format), so I don't want you to think I was disagreeing on that point at all. Even if it's just praise for the cover or maybe mentioning an amusing secondary character, there's SOMETHING about the book that was at least decent or else it WOULD be a DNF. I also think it's important for reviews, both positive and negative, to include WHY a book was awful or wonderful. "I hated it and it was a total waste of money -- I want a refund" tells a reader NOTHING, and is a completely pointless review IMHO.

    I also slightly disagree about not noticing errors if the story is exciting enough - I actually just rated a book 5 stars (Magic Gifts by Ilona Andrews) and yet mentioned in my review the formatting and grammatical (and spelling!) errors that were in it, because I most definitely NOTICED them. You're right in that it didn't MATTER to me as much, because the story was wonderful and I love the characters (this was actually a novella set in one of my all-time favorite series, so it was a given that I'd love the characters haha), but that didn't mean they never even registered when I was reading it -- and it was important to warn other readers about it so that they weren't as annoyed when they came across wonky sentence structure.


  16. {continued}
    I think my point, though, is more that the majority of reviews were never intended to be "criticism", constructive or otherwise, for the AUTHOR. I know speaking exclusively for myself, if not a single solitary author EVER read a review I'd written, positive or negative, it wouldn't bother me in the slightest. My reviews are for READERS and as such are advice to those considering buying the book based on my own experience with it (good or bad), rather than praise, complaints, or even suggestions, directed to the author themselves. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy discussing books with their authors, and have had many wonderful conversations with authors even when their book didn't receive a glowing recommendation from me, but in the end, they're not who the reviews are for at all.

    I definitely agree, though, that "amateur" reviewers tend to be a little more vicious in their negative reviews :-/ While a lot of them really ARE just being jerks, I do think the majority are perhaps just a bit overly-zealous in expressing their opinions, but don't actually intend to come across as hateful as authors and even other readers may perceive them to be.

    I get it, really I do. An author's book is their baby. They've put their heart, soul, sweat, and tears into creating this work of literature, and seeing anyone publicly tear it apart is absolutely devastating. And I also get that the VAST majority of what you were saying was directed more at those reviewers who seem to never have anything nice to say about anything, and that some of the lower scores are for the most RIDICULOUS reasons. I do, however, think that many instances of reviewer "attacks" on authors is not really an attack at all, but that the author's natural emotional attachment to their work made it feel like one.

    On the bright side, I also think that most readers are smart enough to discount the vicious reviews when it comes to making decisions on what books to spend their money on. Sure, we may read them for entertainment value (I admit, I'm especially fond of the Goodreads ones with the animated gifs), but I've never NOT purchased a book based on a vicious review. A review that points out a trope I can't stand? Certainly. But simply an overly snarky or vicious review? No.

    To be honest, I (and many other readers I know) have actually purchased quite a few books BECAUSE of what was a hatefully negative review. Sometimes it's just to see if it was really "that bad" (they usually aren't), and sometimes it's because the reviewer points out something they hated that is actually something I greatly enjoy (such as an "unexpected virgin"). So, while those reviews are understandably hurtful emotionally, I hope authors take heart in that they're probably not nearly as damaging to sales as one might imagine.

    (And btw, that story about prepositions is hysterical :P I totally tweeted that page :D)


  17. The Romanceaholic - you've a couple of very good points there which, must admit, I hadn't fully considered. Review blogs are for READERS (ditto your comment not able to use italics :-) as a guide to what the blogger thinks is a good/not so good read - these reviews are not critiques for the author's benefit. I assume regular readers of blogs get to no individual bloggers' tastes follow their reviews (i.e.I would soon relise that Blogger A didn't like detailed battle scenes but preferred lighter romance whereas Blogger B preferred the more realistic historical novel, so in my case I would follow Blogger B, not A.
    So point 100% taken on board!
    However, I do say again that my article here was primarily aimed at the deliberate trashing of an author - aimed at the author, not the reader, that occurs a little too often on Amazon etc. As you say though, I think most readers are quite capable of descerning which these are. It's still very hurtful to receive this sort of nastiness, even though we tell ourselves it's only one person being deliberately nasty & to take no notice. One of those easier said than done things - which is why, of course, these dreadful people do it!

  18. lol You're absolutely right :) I just like playing Devil's Advocate sometimes ;)

    And definitely, loyal followers of a reviewer quickly figure out what that reviewer does and does not like.. I actually have on my sidebar of my blog, that if you have certain things in your book, you're going to receive a lower rating -- these are my "pet peeves", and those readers who frequent my blog are well aware by now that I despise those things in romance (all I review is romance -- hence the name lol). I've actually had a few followers who have told me they follow my blog because they LIKE some of those things that I can't stand, and they know I'm going to specifically mention their appearance in a book :P

    As I've said, I (and many others) have bought books BECAUSE of low-star reviews, when the thing that lost the points is something we like. In your examples, someone complained the battle scenes were too plentiful and/or gory. If I just LOVE lots of gory battles, I'm going to snatch up that book because I know that's something I'm looking for.

    There's been a lot of discussion on Twitter about reviews and how they TRULY affect sales, and the general consensus by many of the authors I follow is that even the bad reviews aren't as detrimental as they might at first seem.

    TL;DR I know, I just like to debate sometimes :P <3

  19. Interesting, all. I have no beef with anyone in particular-but have seen reviews that made me cringe. Constructive--not necessarily what I look for. Constructive would be be nice--always. And it is priceless when given along the way--during the process of writing and editing a novel. After a book is published, maybe not so much, if the reader is reviewing a finished product, i.e. not aiming at the author toward a stage of "constructing" a story. Having said all that, the reviews I have read made me want to ask the reviewer just what the heck were they thinking? Vitriol never substitutes for a well-though-out and composed review. Too many reviewers get personal, or just show their own lack of lack of vocabulary. For them, I would recommend Jay Squire's blog posts (a series)on "How This Critter Crits". There is a way to do it that defames the reviewer far more than it will ever defame the author and book, and there is a way to do it that is a positive contribution to the writing and reading community. As a reader and a writer, I hope that we all choose the latter...

  20. Lots of great points made here. I really enjoyed reading this post!

    I have been on receiving end of several nasty reviews over the years. Most of them were obvious plants that attacked me on a personal level.

    The last one (which was removed due to content) even went so far as to call me a drunk.

    Seriously. THAT is an attack. By the way, I don't even drink!

    If I hate a book, I might tell my friends, but I won't write a scathing review. I realize that lots of other people might enjoy the work. Besides, I don't want to make myself look bad by being a jerk about it. So, I say nothing at all.

    I've read plenty of books that were so bad I wanted to set them on fire. But I would never say that in a review or a comment about the book!

    Everyone is entitled to an opinion and if someone feels like they MUST express their point of view, often times it can be worded without being an attack.

    Just my 2 cents. I'll stop now. LOL

  21. good points Tracey & Teresa (seriously? Someone putting a review said you were a drunk? #Laugh I reckon that's about half the authors, agents & publishers I know then! ROFLOL )
    There's no comment to be attacked like that is there? Even if you were - what business is it of a reviewer?

  22. I agree Helen! Don't worry about the negatives. Most people can weed out the reviewers who are there to be loud and annoying. I tend to look at 3/4 star reviews (out of 5) myself because I like to see what the small criticism is. The small criticisms are good because what others think are negatives, I usually like. For instance, I like a lot of details, but I've read where a reader will take a star off because the author described every little thing in the room down to the dust. To me, that's good. If someone already gave it a 1 or 2 then I don't even bother to read it since the star rating tells the story.
    Thanks for being a great author!-Alison

  23. I can't believe they thought your battle scenes were too violent. Battles do tend to be a little violent - did they imagine they were tidy affairs, needing band aids rather than burials? I struggle with too much unnecessary bloodshed, but it is not out of place in your books, and is certainly not gratuitous. As you know, I am a big fan of your historical fiction. (Have to post this as anonymous, but it's Loretta Livingstone here. :) )

  24. Well said Helen. I had to laugh about your corn comment. The great Rosemary Sutcliff used the word. When I beta read for an author friend I advised her to cut the word corn in order to avoid the problem you encountered. Demeter is/was known as the Corn Goddess, for crying out loud. And why WOULD a person who hates battles buy a book all about a battle? It reminds me of people who leave 1 star angry reviews on romance novels because they had *gasp* sex. REALLY? :-)

  25. Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment Rebecca - I re-posted this 'old' post because I've had a few emails from upset new authors these past few weeks - author bashing is obviously back in season again! What is it with these people? I actually came across a 1 star rating for what was a darn good book because 'the Amazon packaging it came in was torn' Sheesh....

  26. I completely agree with your article however I stopped writing proper reviews as I started to worry it was been taken the wrong way. I did write a review for one of your books which I didn't expect to like but in fact really enjoyed, there where a couple of bits I wasn't so keen on but they didn't ruin the book for me. I did stress in the review it was a personal thing and I expect other people liked that. I still worry to this day I upset you with my comments and I'm very sorry if I did. I'm used to getting back quiet blunt criticism for my WiP and give blunt criticism when I edit, but try not to be too blunt in reviews. Every so often I think about going back to read the review but then stop myself in case it is awful. To repeat myself I loved the book and am planning to get around to reading the second one.

    1. This is why I hate blog spot I'm trying to post a reply with my name as I don't know why it has me as Unkwown

    2. There is absolutely nothing wrong with an honest, constructive review/comment - not everyone likes the same thing (thank goodness, there wouldn't be much fiction around if they did!) and if a novel, or a scene or whatever is not to a reader's taste that's perfectly OK - as long as the comment left is a fair one. "I wasn't too keen on the xxx (whatever) but that is my personal feeling, I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the book!" is a genuine, honest review. Whereas just saying 'Hated this book' and not giving a reason is so irritating. So rest assured - you haven't upset me at all! Justified criticism is fair enough, just being nasty for the sake of it isn't!

      (Would you be interested in joining my review team for Discovering Diamonds a review blog I run? We always need/welcome honest reviewers. Email me if you're interested author AT helenhollick DOT net )


Thank you for leaving a comment - it should appear immediately, but Blogger sometimes chucks its teddies out of the cot and has a tantrum (especially if you are a Wordpress person) If you are having problems, contact me on author AT helenhollick DOT net and I will post it for you. Sometimes a post will appear as 'anonymous' instead of your name or avatar - I draw attention to this being a Blogger Blooper and not of MY doing... However ...SPAMMERS or distasteful rudeness will be stamped on, squashed, composted and very possibly cursed - if you spam my blog, next time something nasty happens to you just remember that I DID warn you...