Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Review Hoopla and what I think is the reason for it.....

Hey all! This post is going to be a little heavy, but I wanted to say something about it because well, I have an opinion and I feel very strongly about it.

The Horror Writers Association has petitioned Amazon to pull certain reviews. I'd seen the article on either Facebook or Twitter and nodded vehemently when I read it.  Rather than insert a lot of web addresses I'll let you go about it on your own time. I'll paraphrase what's going on. They would like Amazon to take down reviews. Now, before everyone gets upset here's the ones they would like removed:

Ones that are OBVIOUSLY from someone that hasn't read the book or if they have it's only those sample pages that Amazon lets you read for a teaser.--Ok, this seems PERFECTLY logical to me. The people that post reviews based on tiny snippets of a book aren't as informed as they should be. In order to be able to give people an opinion of a book, for Heaven's sake....read the thing! Whoever wrote it put a lot of effort into doing so. Trust me, writing isn't as easy as gumdrops and lollipops like some people think it is. There's blood, sweat, and tears in every word of every page.

Reviews that are focused on price rather than content.--Again, perfectly logical. Just because a book is either 99 cents or is $5.99 that shouldn't have a bearing on what a reviewer thinks about the CONTENT of the book. It's the writing and the story that we want to know about, not the price. We can see the price. It's in black and white in front of us. Sure, maybe cheaper books have worse content and more expensive books have better content. Well, if you've ever been shopping, you know that there are some generics out there that are just as good as the name brand. Unless you're a total brand snob, this shouldn't be the focus of a review of a book. A book review serves to tell people whether or not they enjoyed the author's work. Not whether or not they enjoyed the price they paid for it. Great thing about the society we live in, if you don't like the price of something you either shop around for a cheaper one or you simply don't buy it. We have those wonderful choices right there at our fingertips, even more so if you're buying off of Amazon in the first place.

Reviews that have negative PERSONAL remarks about the author.--This is one that seriously chaps my hide. We're all SUPPOSED to be grown ups here....usually (yeah, there are teen buyers. HECK I'm hoping that teens buy, I'm targeting their age bracket exclusively). When you're pretty much resorting to play ground antics to get your point across, it's the online equivalent of calling someone a "doodie head". Seriously, grow up and realize that just because you didn't like something doesn't mean that the person that created this something is the worst person on the planet. Another nice thing about the country that we live in? We have so much diversity. What's even better is that publishing in general is ridiculously subjective. But what isn't? Not everyone likes lychee fruit and personally I love the stuff. Can't get enough of that ONE tropical fruit that I'm not allergic to. Conversely, don't give me Brussels sprouts, I do NOT like them. I've tried them in every way you can imagine and no matter what, I still don't like them. Now, Husband thinks lychees are "Meh" but he swears up and down his grandmother's recipe for Brussels sprouts is amazing and will blow my socks off. A perfect example of how everything is not for everyone. Personally, I love that. That means more lychee for me. Hee hee.

And last....but not least....my personal rant. The ONE thing that I've always stood by and frustrates me to no end......*drum roll please*

Reviews that include spoilers. -- I know that there are a LOT of reviewers out there that think it's necessary to give us the play by play, blow by blow account of what happened in the book. Whenever I see it though, I hear a unicorn fart in the woods. Why would someone buy a book if all they have to do is read the reviews and know what happens? In my opinion (yes, MY opinion, I own it 100%) the author is the only one that can tell their story. They're the only one that can do it justice. Why am I going to attempt to do something that's already been done before I got there? Call me crazy or even lazy, but I don't want to rewrite this person's novel. They've already done a bang up job of that all by themselves. When I leave a review, I let people know what I thought about the book, but I won't ever....yes I said ever....tell everyone what happens in the book. Especially the ending. In my mind that's the equivalent of running up to some random stranger standing in line at a thriller or mystery movie and saying to them "It was the butler who did it! Aren't you glad you ran into me so I could tell you the ending?" You don't do that! (Ok, maybe there are some people that do it. But seriously? That's the rudest thing ever. Stop it.)

We live in a society where the comfort of our own laptops, iPads, tablets, phones, and desktops offer us that cushy buffer to feel safe enough to take an excursion into the big bad world. Albeit a cyber world, but a big bad world nonetheless. The safety of where ever we're sitting makes us feel like big brave lions that can take on anything and roar in the face of danger. The problem is, with this courage also comes a lack of manners and common courtesy. We forget to say "please" or "thank you". We forget that on the other end of that screen name/user name/handle is an actual living breathing human that has feelings and can be hurt. After all, interfacing with glass and plastic doesn't make it feel like it's personal. Not like we do when we're face to face with someone and can see their eyes, see the light go out when we've just stabbed them in the proverbial heart. To see them genuinely smile or actually LOL. With our lack of feedback to our actions we've become bolder, crasser, meaner, and downright bullying at times. No, I'm not saying that EVERYONE on the internet is in this category, but there sure do seem to be a lot, am I right? Every day I see someone that's been adversely impacted by someone else's rude, mean, and bullying behavior online. In fact, one of the things that brought about the article that I mentioned above was a controversy on Good Reads surrounding a new author that had her book panned long before it came out. The shelves they were putting her book on weren't something that anyone in regular society would say out loud. Maybe in private behind closed doors, but not for everyone to hear.

It's funny that because a lot of this behavior happens behind closed doors, we forget that we're actually in public. Facebook is a community. On Facebook you "friend people" you "like" posts or pictures. On Twitter you "follow" people and you can "favorite" or "retweet" someone's tweet. These are all social things. If we were in person in a conversation someone might say "Oh Moni! I like that!" The same as they can on Facebook. Someone from that conversation can say "Oh, my mom said the other day that your hair looks fabulous." Ok, that was just a retweet. Ultimately, we've forgotten that these technical and digital age things came out of actual things that people have done since the dawn of the spoken or written language. Maybe it's time that we rediscover face to face chats (and no, I'm not talking video chatting on your phone, although I guess in a pinch....that might work). Maybe take some of what you realized while talking to a warm, live, breathing human being and use it when you're posting that next kitty photo to Twitter or Facebook. Be HUMAN on the internet. Be the person that you are in real life with the people that you talk to on the internet. You'd be surprised at how much more caring and less rude you could be.

For those that are reading this and saying "But, Moni! I'm me all the time whether it's on the net or in person." I understand that. I'm just putting out this gentle reminder. It would be nice to have cyber bullying down to a minimum. Bullying in any setting to me is the equivalent of slaughtering that farting unicorn I mentioned before.

As always, be good to each other and write like the wind!!


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