Reviews, Reviews, Reviews

It’s a new year but the same old issue.

I’ve been writing about reviews ad nauseum, and I’m sure you’re all as tired about this topic as I am. Believe me, I don’t want to write about reviews – I would much rather spend my time reading a really good book or admiring the hot manflesh of the Friday Guys, but sometimes a gal’s gotta do what’s right.

Authors, I know that when we write negative reviews of your books you think we’re picking on you. But we’re really not. We love to read and when you throw a good book our way, WOW, we’re in heaven. Trust me, it’s orgasmic. So we wish you would write lots more of those really fine books. But lately it seems that the muse has deserted some of you, or maybe it’s just that nothing works. Consequently, we have had to write more negative reviews because we owe it to the readers to be honest. This upsets you, which is understandable, because you probably spent a lot of time producing what you sincerely believed was a brilliant literary piece of work, but it turned out to be somewhat less than wonderful, at least in our opinion. Would you rather we praised a book to the skies that we knew in our hearts was not your best work?

A number of authors (you know who you are)  have in the past requested that this site no longer review their books. Recently a few more have joined the band. So far I have been acceding to these requests, even though in some cases up to three different reviewers have independently come to similar conclusions about your writing i.e. that it’s not that great. However, in future I will no longer go along with these requests because, regardless of all the other fun posts, this is a review site and the readers who drop by are entitled  to our opinions on all M/M books we read (positive and negative) to help them in their purchase decisions. Of course you want to make money from your hard work, but readers deserve to spend their hard earned money on books they can enjoy. We will, however, try to use as many euphemisms as possible when we describe why a book didn’t work for us .  😀

A few authors probably feel that sometimes we are a tad too candid, or that we could have eliminated a few quotes to back up our opinions (because opinions are always subjective) but that would not be honest, and honesty is what reviewing is all about. What constitutes a good book review? In my view it’s an analysis of the characterizations, plots, pacing, even those pesky editorial errors are noted, and the most critical elements of any book review are honesty, and whether at the end of the day we liked the book. Some of our reviews are critical, but only when we feel  such criticisms are warranted. 

This site reviews books to provide the readers  with opinions of what worked, or didn’t. In addition to writing a review, we also rate the books which I think is sometimes the hardest part of the job. If we don’t rate your books when we provide a critical assessment of the story,  how would the reader know whether we think it’s good, bad or indifferent? Reviewers may not be fiction writers (well most of us are not) but we have a pretty good idea of what comprises a good romance book, and it has nothing to do with the obligatory HEA.  Most reviewers do this thankless job in our minimal spare time, in between looking after our families and/or working full time at our EDJ (evil day jobs) just like you, authors.  So when we use our very scarce available time to read your book and it turns out to be not your best work or even a good effort, we are disappointed, but our reviews are never personal or contain snark.

Please do not send your books to be reviewed here if you you’re just looking for a promotional blurb to post on your website because you won’t get it, unless we think your book is deserving. If that’s what you’re looking for there are other “review sites” that perform this service – they are not hard to find since they only write positive “reviews” and profess that the book is “the best ever”, or they just regurgitate and expand the blurbs with no critical assessment of what’s between the covers. Also, please do not write your publishers if you’re offended by a less than positive review. Contrary to what you might think, even though publishers supply many of the books we review, often we buy the books we read. You do not have to read our reviews of your books if they upset you, but you might learn something if you read them with an open mind rather than being angry that we would dare to criticize your creation.  No book is perfect but some are considerably less perfect than others. On the flip side, when we love a book we can’t shut up about it and pimp it to everyone who will listen.

If you’re interested in an honest assessment of your latest M/M literary endeavour we would be happy to provide our opinion if you submit it for review. We don’t believe in taking pot shots, so our reviews are politely worded and restrained. On many occasions the guest reviewers and I have had discussions on the site with authors on the pros and cons of particular book reviews, and while we might not always agree, both parties have an opportunity to make their points in a respectful manner. OTOH, recently when a negative review was posted here the author sent in her “attack dogs” to demean the reviewer by questioning her integrity, as a means of deflecting attention away from a poorly written book. That demonstrated a lack of integrity on the part of the author! This site is open to everyone who is polite in debating the issues, whatever they are, but please do not insult the guest reviewers or other commenters.

Thanks. I appreciate your cooperation.

I wish to say “thank you” to the authors who drop by the site and make our days a little lighter by poking fun at just about everything as well as blogging on occasion, and thanks also to the publishers and brave authors 😀 who send us their books to review.

Meredith Shayne
How timely this post is for me – just yesterday I recommended this site to a friend of mine as a place where she could find honest, well-balanced and well-reasoned reviews of m/m books. As a reader, that sort of review is invaluable when I’m trying to decide where to spend my money. As a writer…well. I have had a story of mine reviewed on this site, and I admit to reading the post at first with one eye closed, squinting at the screen in case it said bad things, but I would never have dreamed of criticising the reviewer… Read more »
Wave
Hi Meredith Thanks for recommending the site to your friends. * >>As a writer…well. I have had a story of mine reviewed on this site, and I admit to reading the post at first with one eye closed, squinting at the screen in case it said bad things, but I would never have dreamed of criticising the reviewer or blaming the site as a whole if it had. << * Before responding I checked the review of your book and Jenre gave it quite a nice one. You should be proud. 😀 * A few authors that act like a… Read more »
Meredith Shayne
Hi Wave, No problem re: the recommendation – you guys put so much work into this site, you deserve the recognition. Jenre did say nice things about my story, which made my day, I can tell you! But if it had been bad, then I would have taken it on the chin – I think everyone can understand having a bad reaction to a not-so-good review, but then the difference between a reasonable and unreasonable person is how you act once that initial reaction has passed. I agree with Junkfoodmonkey regarding the worst reactions being when you know deep down… Read more »
Tam
Well Wave, now that you’re rich and famous, wait, famous anyway, you’ll have to pay the price. 🙂 Sucks though but yeah, it’s the world-wide-web. I (and you and anyone of the other 6 billion on the planet) can say whatever I want and if I pay for something I can give my opinion on it and you can’t stop me. Imagine if car dealers tried to get car blogs/websites who gave a car a poor rating to stop. LOL Yeah right. * If you are brave enough to take that step to be published, you need to be brave… Read more »
Wave

Tam
Where’s the “rich and famous” money?
*
>>If you are brave enough to take that step to be published, you need to be brave enough to face the critics<<
Exactly. I have a WIP that will never see the light of day but I'll send it to you to read and critique. 😀

*
Your mother read Crossing Borders? What were you thinking, sending her one of your stash?

Tam
I had a pile of yaoi and other books sitting on my dining room table. I hadn’t really paid that much attention when she was visiting, next thing I look she’s sitting at the table leafing through it. I didn’t say anything but another day I saw her sitting there reading it again. LOL I should have offered to let her take it on the plane but it was my autographed copy so no one gets to borrow that one. She didn’t faint or start screaming so I’m not sure what she read, she was kind of flipping around so… Read more »
Kate

Great post, Wave, and good for you for sticking to your guns. Authors shouldn’t forget that bad reviews sell books, too! There have been several occasions when I read some really stinking reviews and it made me so curious I went and bought the books in question to see if they really were that bad. 99% of the time they were, and while I was entertained by the duff read, the author earned some royalties off of my curiosity. So yeah, bad reviews can be good – authors shouldn’t complain!

Wave

Hi Kate
Thank you. You’re right that sometimes a book is so horrendous everyone buys it to check it out and see whether the reviews were all wrong. 😀 It works both ways.

Jules Jones

There’s also this — if your style varies from book to book, then even someone who likes most of your stuff may bounce right off one particular book, while other people love it. I’ve written everything from slapstick comedy to dark space opera to fantasy to contemporary romance. I might swear at the computer if I get a bad review, but I *know* that not everyone who likes my books is going to like every single one of them.

Wave

Jules
I expect an author to write different types or sub genres of books. I hope that I don’t remain static and I would hope that authors grow and evolve. I hate reading the same old same old from an author. One of the reasons I like M/M other than the hot guys, is the range of stories from simple romances to sci fi to paranormal to murder mysteries etc.

Val Kovalin
Wave, I’m not exactly surprised, but I am dismayed that some authors would attempt to control your site by demanding that you no longer review their books. * First, it’s naïve of them to send you a nasty email. These days, many bloggers would post the email, which is probably the one thing that might have the strongest negative impact upon an author’s sales. Even if that didn’t happen, it’s hard for authors to hide any unprofessional behavior from the www. The readers remember and boycott forever. * Any time a book gets a PRICE TAG for public consumption, it… Read more »
Wave
Val You have said everything I would like to say and have done so eloquently. * As you know, we work hard here to do a good job on the reviews and those authors who are thin skinned enough to request that we no longer review their books in future will have to get a thicker skin because I’m going to post their names and still continue to review their books. Enough of anonymity. We are always professional when we write reviews so I don’t understand why they are so pissed. * >> “It was really, really hot and awesome,”… Read more »
Val Kovalin

” When you have your book written I would be very unhappy if you didn’t send it here for us to tear it to shreds (oops I mean review it)”

*

:: snort :: No, really, I’m looking forward to inflicting it upon you, ha, ha! I’m scheduling it in for the future. 🙂

Wave
Jules >>I’ve seen examples of one reviewer loving a book and another hating it — for exactly the same reasons.<>One of the more useful pieces of advice I got from more experienced folk on writers forums is to remember that 20% of the readers will hate your book no matter what<< * I would place that number higher than 20% of readers, and any author who expects everyone to love their books is being unrealistic. * Every writer gets bad reviews at some point in their career and they should just learn to accept them as the price for being… Read more »
Jordan Castillo Price
As an author, it wouldn’t occur to me to ask someone to stop reviewing my stuff–and there are some reviewers that I certainly feel that way about, but only in the context of yelling at my computer! I’d never email them and actually put that request out there. – Would I stop sending review copies to a reviewer who didn’t seem like a good fit for my work? Sure! But if she chooses to seek out & buy my stuff and review it, there’s nothing to stop her from doing that. – I do find critical reviews can be helpful,… Read more »
Wave
Jordan I love your books but there may be one that I hate in the future and I would be totally honest in the review about my reasons why. However that would probably not have anything to do with the book being poorly written. * What started out as a couple of authors has grown and I’m getting sick of it, so I hope that authors will get the message not to email me any more to ask to be taken off some list. * If you would write a crappy book I would be happy to tell you how… Read more »
Jules Jones
Wave, that’s part of the point of the one star challenge — to get authors to wrap their heads around the fact that people will give them one star reviews for all sorts of reasons, including “I don’t like first person”.   Of course, a thoughtful review is harder to shrug off. But there is still the thing about people having different tastes, and I’ve seen examples of one reviewer loving a book and another hating it — for exactly the same reasons. One of the more useful pieces of advice I got from more experienced folk on writers forums… Read more »
Jules Jones

Looks like we need another round of the One Star Challenge, aka Owning Your One Star Reviews.

Wave

Jules
I think that’s a riot although I am not sure that amazon should be used as the standard for reviews, even though I occasionally post there. 😀 I have seen those reviews and some of the reviewers just rewrite the blurbs with a one liner – either “I hate this book” or “I love this book.” One reviewer gave a book 1 star because it was written in the 1st person.

Erastes
Couldn’t agree with you more, Wave. Reviews aren’t for the writers (although you rightly say they could take things on board by reading them) but for the readers, and we don’t want to put readers off the books – we love books and want to share them, but we also create a bond with the readers, and they learn to trust us. Obviously my taste isn’t going to be universal, but after a while a reader will synchronise with my tastes and will know that generally, if I like something – they will, and if there are things in a… Read more »
Wave
Erastes When it was just 2 or 3 authors it was easy to manage. However, since we moved to a website I guess the authors are paying attention to the number of visitors as well as the number of hits, and they are increasingly concerned that our reviews could have an impact on their royalties because we have a loyal group of followers. * >>Also, as has been said above, it’s not an unfavourable review that will necessarily put an reader off a writer – but an author behaving like a baby, or worse, a dick, or a vitriolic eejit?… Read more »
Aliens
Like Larissa, I buy most of my books based on the reviews here and the ratings some of your readers and reviewers give on goodreads. What makes me come back to this site is that I know the reviewers did read the book and that I will get an honest opinion of the reviewers. Every reviews I read here so far, the reviewer made a point to explain what worked for them or not. And sometimes what doesn’t work for a reader will work for another. Like some reviewers said it’s just my opinion and others may not agree. “However,… Read more »
Wave

Aliens
Most authors know that not every book will please every reader and one of the reasons I think our reviews are valuable is that we give reasons, pro and con, about why we liked or couldn’t recommend a book.

*
As I mentioned before, this is just a small group that is trying to pre empt poor reviews and I had to put a stop to it before it got out of hand. Some days I didn’t want to open my email because I was afraid of what I would find.

*
Thanks for your support.

Kassa

I read some great advice somewhere that said when you stop reviewing for the reader, you’ve lost your objectivity.
Reviewing is for readers by readers. 🙂

Wave
Kassa As you know, we have always reviewed books for the readers. * The issue here is that I did not request or buy books by certain authors because they had specifically written me or their publishers demanding that this site not review their books. This obviously meant that there might be fewer critical reviews of their work. However, lately, due to an increasing number of pissed off authors, I decided I had had enough. * I’m sure they can go to other “desirable” sites to have their books reviewed in order to counteract all the bad press they will… Read more »
Larissa
Go Wave! It’s good to make a stand. Reviews are reviews. I doubt authors ask the NY times not to review a book 😉 * I know what you mean about there being less and less REALLY good books out there. It’s the same old song really. Too much gets published without desent editing and there are too many self publishing companies out there. Recently I’ve been relying heavily on reviews before I buy books, because the last few times I bought e-books they didn’t turn out like I thought they would. For someone who, at the moment, doesn’t have… Read more »
Wave

Hi Larissa
It’s the same old saw. If some authors don’t like what they see they get mad and request that we no longer review their books. A few authors have gone to extremes by publishing the email addresses of other reviewers on Twitter, or even their home phone numbers when they can find it, so their fans can insult the reviewers.
*

Initially when there only a few I couldn’t be bothered but now others have joined them and I have to put a stop to it. I’m getting accustomed to being hated. 😀

thelastaerie
I agree with your decision wholeheartedly. Bad review will only affect my buying decision if I trust that reviewer AND if he/she gives valid reasons for disliking it. So writers, please, give the readers some credit – we know what is a fair review, what is not. On top of that, I find it amusing that published writers would have the audacity to ask for review site to “please not review my book”. Huh? You put your work out there – you should expect feedback – good or negative – even trolls! It’s part of life. My advice? Thicken your… Read more »
Wave
Eve As you know we always try to be fair, and when we critique a book we usually provide as much information as we can for our rating so that the readers can judge whether this is a book they would want to read. Different strokes. As I said before, this is only a small group of authors who are mad at us because they don’t like our opinions of their books. I guess they have become accustomed to everyone fawning over them that they believe their own publicity. Trust me, it’s not only in fanfiction that we’re told not… Read more »
Justacat
Wave, I applaud this decision of yours and support it wholeheartedly. Acceding to authors’ demands not to review their books has always troubled me a little. Can you imagine the New York Times Review of Books acquiescing to a puffed-up author’s demand that it no longer review her books because she’s displeased with a negative review? I doubt any except perhaps the most arrogant author would have the chutzpah to make such a request, and the thought that the NYTRB would entertain it for a moment…well, no. And I believe it would cast a shadow on their neutrality, their legitimacy… Read more »
Wave
Justacat This was a difficult decision because I can understand why authors don’t want their work criticised on a site like this with a worldwide readership. However, at the end of the day I have to take the readers’ interest into account and that’s what tipped the scales. * Reviewing is subjective because it’s one person’s opinion but we always try to be fair; sometimes we send a book to another reviewer if we feel that we’re not being as impartial as we should. I did that recently with a book that I wanted a second opinion on and the… Read more »
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