Reviews can be the bane of any author’s life. Some people would advise never reading them because too many bad ones will make you miserable – and perhaps too many enthusiastic ones will make you bigheaded. Certainly one author recently got a touch overexcited after a run of positive reviews – one slightly less glowing was all it took to send this author into an embarrassing tailspin. And no, I won’t name the silly sod as they’ve had enough of a kicking after making the awful mistake of complaining on Twitter than someone only rated their work as worth four and a half stars.
It’s very rarely a good idea to whine about negative reviews. There are some spectacular examples of what not to do floating about on the internet, with this one the likely winner.
However, there are times when a negative review is not the opinion of someone who didn’t care for a book. There are drawbacks, and have been for some time, to the contemporary situation where anyone and their pet monkey can review anything. There’s the persistent tiresomeness of those who leave low ratings with comments like ‘Took a long time to arrive’ or ‘wasn’t very well packed’ of something they bought secondhand, as though this was the author’s fault. Some people will always weaponise anything they can to advance their own prejudices. Goodreads did step in when an author came under attack for reasons that had little to do with her new book, for instance, perhaps because the malicious reviews were so clearly not from people who had actually read it. However, they don’t seem to have been so bothered by a reviewer with the handle of Charles, who appears to be on a personal mission to slate every LGBTQ author in town. Authors complaining about this individual are, I would say, thoroughly justified and it really shouldn’t be that difficult to boot someone for what amounts to unethical and unhelpful behaviour on a reviewing platform, when the bigotry and nuisance factor is this blatant.
You’re welcome to review books in the bookshop, of course…