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.

76 comments

  • Wave,
    the better you get the more enemies you acquire. Look at it this way: obviously authors relize that your opinions, your reviews matter. I don’t want to talk down the annoying fact that there are people who take honesty personally. When I create something, no matter whether ist is a book, or a piece of art, or a knit pair of socks, and I show it off, I must be ready to hear other people’s opinions. And I must be prepared that other people don’t like my art. And there is such a thing as helpful critic. If I get the heel of my sock wrong, and there is someone who can show me another better way to do it, I’m well – advised to listen to that person. Or I can decide to not listen, but it’s my decision.
    *
    With this slightly awkward methaphor I want to say, please, Wave, keep it up! Almost everything I read was recommended and reviewed here on your site. Sometimes my opinion and the reviewer’s differ, sometimes I agree. But you never just shred a book to pieces, you give advice. And you never give just praise, you state your reasons. You and your guest reviewers are doing a great job here.
    Greetings, Feliz

    • Feliz
      >>Sometimes my opinion and the reviewer’s differ, sometimes I agree. But you never just shred a book to pieces, you give advice. And you never give just praise, you state your reasons. You and your guest reviewers are doing a great job here.<< Thank you for this although the purpose of the post was merely to state that I will no longer exclude an author’s books from the review list because s/he had specifically requested this. * When these authors realize that readers can think for themselves and will quickly warn their friends about substandard books, without any help from review sites, maybe they will improve their writing skills instead of trying to muzzle review sites.

  • As an author, you need to take the good with the bad and that means both positive and negative reviews.

    And what would happen if you continue to review books from authors who don’t want you to? For them to speak publicly against it here would really make things worse.

    I can’t believe an author would say to you not to review their work. It’s your blog not there’s

    • Hi KB
      It’s good to see you.
      *
      This is not the only site where authors have requested their books not be reviewed. Speak Its Name is another site that has fallen afoul of a few authors.
      *
      >>And what would happen if you continue to review books from authors who don’t want you to? For them to speak publicly against it here would really make things worse.<< In the past they had anonymity because I didn’t reveal who the authors were. However, in future if I get any more requests I will post their names but continue to review their books. That will put a stop to it pretty quickly. 😀

      • So these authors would rather have their books not reviewed at all? I would think I would want my book mentioned, bad review or not, than not being mentioned at all.

        A bad review can also help sell a book because of a reader being curious.

        • Hi KB

          >>A bad review can also help sell a book because of a reader being curious<< Exactly. I bought a book that was absolutely trashed at another review site because I thought it couldn’t be that bad. It was. 😀

  • Wave, there really are readers who want more of the same, only different, and complain if they don’t get it. I’ve never encountered this about my own books, but I have seen it happening. Terry Pratchett used to talk about this with the Discworld series — that there were people who wanted more stories about Rincewind and complained if he wrote something different, and people who wanted more stories about the Night Watch, or more stories about the witches…
     
    A sensible reader recognises that a favourite author may wander off into territory that doesn’t match their tastes, and a sensible author recognises that even readers who have them on auto-buy won’t necessarily like everything they write. I read a wide range of genres, but there are some that just don’t work for me, and my favourite authors may have a slightly different mix of genre interests to me. As witness, one of my own review posts this weekend, about an anthology that was a DNF for me because it’s aimed at a slightly different set of genre conventions and taste in story style to mine. I bought it because one of my favourite authors had a story in it, but hers was one of the ones that left me cold. I could dissect in detail why, and I know that people who like that particular style of crime story would love it for exactly the same reasons.
     
    Do I wish she’d spent the time on that story writing something more to my tastes? Of course. But then, the people who complained about the mushy romance stuff creeping into one of her crime novels probably feel the same way about that one, and *I* liked that one an awful lot. :->

  • Wave

    I just wanted to add my support for your decision to continue to review books regardless of requests from authors and publishers.

    The bottom line is that we review for readers not for promo. If there are those out there that think otherwise they seriously need to get real.

    These people also need to give readers credit for actually having a brain of their own to be able to come to a buying decision themselves.

    As others more eloquent than I have said, what may be a problem for some when it comes to a story may not be for others.

    • Kris
      IE just ate my reply, maybe it’s trying to tell me something. 😀

      *
      Thanks for your support – you know that means a great deal!

      *

      What I tried to say is that writers should give readers credit for having brains and using them, rather than trying to muzzle the reviewers on this site. I don’t understand why a few negative reviews should piss off the authors to the extent that they want to censor us.
      *
      I guess I won’t be receiving any more requests in the future from authors not to review their books. 😀

  • Hi Wave!
    I’ve gotten into so many kerfluffles over just this issue in the fanfic world. I even left a author posting community because a rec post turned into an anti-rec post and I thought that went against the point of the comm…or at least why I was there, which was to read the fic that was posted. Knowing that authors posted at the comm and could be “blindsided” by a negative review didn’t sit well with me. I didn’t view the comm as a review site and plus…it was fanfic. So now all those bashers in the fanfic world that I’ve thrown down with would probably keel over in shock that I’m agreeing with you.
    *
    Because to me there is a big difference between fanfic, which no one pays for and a professionally published book that I’m going to be laying down my cold hard cash for. Big difference.
    *
    Plus, this is a review site. It’s purpose is to provide thoughtful reviews so that the consumer can have a better understanding of what they intend to buy. Now that I’ve found this site, it’s the first place I go when I want to buy something. Your reviews are always well thought out and never personal. It’s clear they are not meant as a dig or a bash. And I’ve seen bashing…if this was that kind of site….I wouldn’t be here. Even though there is money involved I still wouldn’t be comfortable being part of a site that enjoyed bashing. It’s just not the type of person that I am.
    *
    Making a clear statement about the purpose of the blog/community and then not bending when you know it’ll only be detrimental to that purpose is absolutely the right way to go, imo. Keep up the great work, Wave. The site is awesome!!

    • Sharvie
      I was sure that I responded to your comment but I guess IE ate it.

      *
      >>Now that I’ve found this site, it’s the first place I go when I want to buy something. Your reviews are always well thought out and never personal. It’s clear they are not meant as a dig or a bash< < * We do try to be helpful and give opinions that are clearly meant to illustrate what we liked or did not care for in any of the books we review. We listen to the readers and answer their questions, which helps to sell the books. * >>Making a clear statement about the purpose of the blog/community and then not bending when you know it’ll only be detrimental to that purpose is absolutely the right way to go, imo. Keep up the great work, Wave. The site is awesome!!<< * Can I hire you when they come after me with pitchforks. 😀

  • The thing that I find most interesting about this issue is that authors who attempt to stifle bad reviews fail to recognize that their readers are part of a large community that talks to one another through a variety of venues, both online and elsewhere. It is impossible to stop readers from talking to one another about books they love, even if the author were able to successfully target major review sites such as this one or SIN.

    Newer readers to any field or genre may stumble around in the dark, but eventually, the savvy ones will not only make a habit of reading reviews prior to purchasing, they will have discovered on their own (and to the detriment of their pocketbooks) which authors aren’t worth their time. My own experience has taught me the hard way to be suspicious of books that have only glowing reviews, but also those that have no reviews whatsoever. This doesn’t mean that I never purchase books prior to their being reviewed, but I do try to be cautious in how I spend my money. And believe me, I have been vocal both online and in person about which authors I absolutely avoid and why.

    Readers are usually smart and articulate, and we are perfectly capable of deciding for ourselves how much weight to lend a review. However, reviews offer both a way to save time and money by warning of books an individual reader may not like, as well as offering a space for readers to share a genuine response and dialogue about a particular book or body of work. Half the fun of reading reviews is deciding for myself whether and how I agree or disagree with the reviewer and the people who comment on the review.

    I look forward to the moment when you do publish the name of an author asking you not to review their books. I have a sneaking suspicion it will be a name I’m already familiar with and who I have already put on my DNR list!

    • Hi Alaina
      >>The thing that I find most interesting about this issue is that authors who attempt to stifle bad reviews fail to recognize that their readers are part of a large community that talks to one another through a variety of venues, both online and elsewhere< < * You are so right. I don't know if they believe we are all a pack of drones rather than intelligent human beings who are capable of thinking for ourselves. * >>I look forward to the moment when you do publish the name of an author asking you not to review their books<< * The fact that I have said publicly that I will out any author who requests that we no longer review their books I think will put a stop to their requests. At least I hope so because I really don’t want to embarrass anyone, but I will print their names if I get any new requests. * Thanks for commenting. 😀

  • as one of my friends once said: may you be known by your enemies…
    i think that author pseudo-rebellion is a sign of the power and fairness of the reviews. and unlike paper books that i can pass on to the unsuspecting i never tend to dump even the crappiest of e-books. so i really appreciate the fair and balanced service you provide. you’ve really expanded what i buy and read.
    so. thanks!
    :0)
    -kkm

    • KKM
      Thank you for the nice words and may you enjoy even more reviews which will give you an opportunity to buy more books, a fact these authors overlooked in their attempt at censorship.

  • Wave, you know I love your site.
    *
    Your reviews, and those of the others, are always presented very fairly, whether a book was great, good or not so good. For authors to think they can tell you what books your site can review is totally unbelievable.
    *
    Keep up the outstanding work you guys have been doing. It’s very much appreciated!

    • Hi Lily
      Are you saying you come by the site for the reviews? I thought it was for the Friday Guys. 😀
      *
      Seriously, of all the bloggers who visit this site I value you and MaryM the most. Why? Because you were the first to visit my old blog, and for a long time you were the only commenters, and you would wait faithfully until I posted another review a few days later, to comment again. You have no idea what that meant to me because for a while I felt that there was nobody out there.
      *
      Thanks for being there and for supporting both sites, and also for agreeing with my stand against this form of censorship.

  • Wow… the complaining authors are really showing poor business sense. I have reviewed study after study that shows consumers are more likely to buy a brand they have heard bad things about rather than a brand they have never heard of at all. Ironically, you are doing these authors a favor by continuing to review their work. Oh well.

    • Diane
      In the world of advertising and marketing any press, good or bad, is a way of getting your name out there and these authors haven’t figured this out. We’ll help to drag them kicking and screaming into the era of on line living. :)

  • Hiya, Wave (et al.)… :)

    * *

    I honestly can’t comprehend anyone having the utter gall to try to tell you what you can and can’t review on your own site (or anyone else’s, for that matter). It seems like a move that’s not only foolish but childish. Like “if you won’t play the way *I* want to, then I’m taking my ball and going home. Nyah.”

    * *

    I’ve had reviews, both good and bad, on all sorts of sites and blogs and I value each and every one of them. Does it bother me when a reviewer doesn’t like one of my books? Sure it does, to a certain degree. But would I ever tell them not to review my books again? HELL no. Their site, their choice.

    * *

    I’m also a reader and I appreciate the reviews you and the others post here. They’re detailed and you guys actually give me information about themes and content that comes in very handy.

    * *

    I guess what I’m saying is keep doing what you’re doing… and any time you feel the urge to “blindside” me? Go for it! 😛

    ~Tis

  • Hi TC
    Initially when I started my blog less than 2 years ago I was naive and experienced about the online experience. I have had to become a fast learner. Since I had no knowledge of the correct protocol I assumed that these requests were the norm.

    *
    In the past I shrugged when authors requested that their books not be reviewed, but since I moved to the new site it seems that more authors are concerned about its reach and feel that bad publicity (negative book reviews) could impact their sales. Consequently I have received more requests to take them off our review list, most notably after what they consider to be a bad review. However, I don’t think I will be receiving any more requests in the future since publishing their names would remove the anonymity they currently enjoy.

    *
    >>I’m also a reader and I appreciate the reviews you and the others post here. They’re detailed and you guys actually give me information about themes and content that comes in very handy. < < Thanks for this - we all appreciate it. At least we read the books! * >>and any time you feel the urge to “blindside” me? Go for it! << I’ll remember this comment next time one of your books is reviewed here. 😀

  • Wow. Unbelievable, that this problem has not only continued, but actually gotten worse for you. I’m glad you decided to take this stand, Wave. Definitely the right thing to do.
    *
    Me, I’m always happy to see one of mine reviewed here. You know that, and you know you have my support, for what it’s worth :)

    • Ally
      You are one of the best and a credit to the profession. I also respect your opinions, which is why I seek your advice from time to time. The authors who are pissed at us and request that we no longer review their books should learn something from people like you. Unfortunately they view any review that’s less than positive as a personal attack regardless of the way it’s written.

      *
      Thank you for writing and supporting my decision.

  • You go girl!! I support you 100%. :) That authors would ask you to do that, nevermind sending their attack dogs after you, is nothing short of apalling. Reactions of that kind make me put such authors on a permanent “AVOID” list. I love this site because I know it is made in the interest of readers and that all the reviewers are competent, professional, honest and fair; they are as objective as one can possibly be when reviewing books, providing enough information for us to make up our own mind about the story and decide whether the points that didn’t work for them are things that also matter to us. And none of you ever stoops to personal, derogatory coments about an author in reviews, it’s always about the story. Therefore, I know that any book that gets a bad rating probably deserved it. No author can score a perfect note with every book and a well-written, constructive review can be a source of learning. What the authors harassing you are hoping to achieve I can’t fathom…. if a story is truly bad it’s going to come out one day or another anyway.
    *hugs*

    • Hey Mary
      Thank you for supporting the site for a long time. As I mentioned to Lily, you and she were the two first people (sometimes the only people :-D) to come by the old blog almost two years ago to check out the reviews, and I’m sure you figured out that my objective was to give honest opinions on books to readers.

      *
      I don’t think I’ll receive any future requests to take any writer off our list of reviews because now they know that I’ll post their names. We don’t insult any authors or their books – we are fair, I think, and we don’t believe in snark.

      *
      BTW I’m still waiting for your review. 😀

    • You think we’re nice? I wish you would tell some of my best author friends so that they wouldn’t be mad at us all the time.

      *
      I have been suggesting to a few authors that they check out another well known review site that loves snark. Next time they complain I’ll send them to you. :) Anyway they won’t be coming back here with requests to cease and desist, I don’t think.

  • Bad reviews work, too! There’s a book review blog on amazon where I always buy the books the reviewer dislikes. I tried to buy and read her recommendations first, but they never worked for me. So, I thought, why not turn it around and try one she gave only one or two stars? Voilà! That book I liked and so now I’m buying the ones she judges negatively. 😉

    • Hi Kete
      Some of the time reviews reflect the personal taste of a reviewer. For example I can do with a lot less angst in the books I read so they are not my favourites, but I always indicate this in the reviews. For a reader who loves angst, that book would be like manna from heaven. Also, I love adventure, fantasy and sports so those books tend to get a slightly higher score from me if they are really good than if they were simply straight love stories. However, I indicate my bias in my reviews.
      *
      In the case of books with terrible reviews sometimes I buy the books to see if they could be as bad as the reviewer rated them, and most of the time they are. Some books are just a train wreck waiting to happen. :)
      *
      I’m happy you found a system that works for you. 😀

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