Just for a change, and to surprise you lot, I haven’t a Featured Author today, but a guest post. As the headline is telling you, it is written by Reggie and he’s on about reviews over at Amazon.
So without further ado from me, I’ll give the stage over to Reggie. Tell it like it is Reg!
Oh, right. For those who do not know Reggie, it’s the one on the camouflage gear.
Amazon reviews. Why?
You know, as safe as we think we are with family and friends, it’s still hard to evade man’s disdain for his fellow man. What is it with Homo Sapiens Sapiens? Why do we have to be so damnably superior to each other?
Let me give you an example.
We see someone we know, a friend or family, doing their best to build something for themselves. Our first reaction, after asking what they’re doing, is to cast doubt on the poor fellow by telling them they’re doing it wrong.
“Ooh, you don’t want to do it like that…”
Or, “I hope you remembered to do the… (Insert integral part of process here)?”
Few and far between are the people who are able to give encouragement without throwing in a bit of advice for good measure; especially when it’s someone close.
If it’s an expert, or some one perceived to be an expert, then we belay any critique until we’re out of earshot. However, if it’s a layperson building a wall, setting bricks for a drive or fixing their roof, we find it hard not to tell them the best way to go about it; regardless of the fact that our knowledge of the job consists of what we picked up watching 10 seconds of Tim Taylor’s Tool Time.
So why is that?
Why are we such a species of know-all, busy-bodies?
Are we really that despicable?
I’m afraid the answer is yes.
Case in hand: Amazon feedback.
I was awarded my, (up to now) worst review not so long ago. Two stars from a lovely chap called Cretin, (name changed to protect the innocent) who couldn’t even finish it. My lovingly crafted tome was such a waste of space that he didn’t have the energy to read it to the end.
Fair one, each to their own I guess. Personally, I felt a little hard done by the two stars because his points were, in my extremely unbiased opinion, laughable. Laughable and also indicative that he possesses the attention span of a grapefruit.
However, that is by the by as one has to accept that that’s the deal with Amazon; you put your book out there for all to see and comment on. Then every Tom, Dick or Harriet can have a go at playing Torquemada if they’ve had a bad day the office/call centre/public toilets.
The question here though is why did Cretin feel the need to put that up there? What was he thinking when he wrote that crippling assessment? You have to consider the mindset of an individual who’d want to spend their valuable time warning the reading world of the folly of spending 99 cents on a book.
I mean, would you do that?
And if you would, why?
What possible kudos is to be achieved by slighting a writer who you’ll never, ever meet? Does he show his friends the review?
“Ha ha ha,” Cretin laughed triumphantly. “He won’t cross swords with the Great Cretino again in a hurry!”
It just seems so… sad really.
…And Cretin is harmless in comparison to some of the reviews I’ve read for other people. I’ve seen one star reviews that read like personal vendettas of Sicilian proportions. Cretin’s points transform into fairy dust in comparison to some of the hateful vitriol that’s been written about perfectly blameless books. Good writers, authors that have sold more books than Chairman Mao, who attract five star reviews like fleas to my cat, who take their craft as seriously as a religious vow, have been destroyed by someone’s, “bad day at the office” vent.
“Well they should grow a thicker skin!” I hear you cry.
Really, is that right? Is it fair comment to say, “Grow a pair” when you see the book you’ve slaved over for two years being publicly maligned into sewerage by someone who can’t even operate the spellchecker?
Personally, I don’t think it is.
Nobody doubts the value of good analysis. The last thing we want is a “no winners no losers” rule on Amazon where everyone is awarded five stars. However, I cannot find it in myself to agree that the plebs of the world, the insecure and deranged, should be given free range to exact their revenge on society through the medium of, “Trolling”; which is exactly what is happening on Amazon, (and Goodreads apparently).
Have a read of this one star mauling by a person who probably teaches English at Cambridge University by the looks of it:
This review is from: First Bitten (The Alexandra Jones series) (Kindle Edition)
“I hate book that end like this
Books that have no ending make me not want to read the author ever again. A cliff hanger fine but dangling in the air? It is up to you if you like waiting for months for a clue. To many unanswered questions to want to try another one.”
The author, Samantha Towle, has 67 five star reviews for this book. Sixty seven people gave it five stars, twenty gave it four and fifteen awarded it three.
However, it’s the one stars that count here, nobody sees the drunk when he’s sober and the same goes for the five star reviews. By the way, just so you know, there are also six, two star and eight one star reviews there, but I picked this one to best illustrate my point.
Or this one for Jessica Delgarmo’s, ” How To Meet A Guy At The Supermarket “.
This review is from: How To Meet A Guy At The Supermarket (Kindle Edition)
Funny in a sort of way, but felt so sad for her. I’ve been single, lived alone, bot really didn’y enjoy all that supermaket stuff. Sorry!:”
These examples aren’t psycho-critic stuff, I know, but a one star review should at least have the graciousness to be correctly spelt and grammatically decent… it’s only fair!
I know people who have really suffered under the Amazon review mafia, to the point where they’ve thought about giving up on writing totally. Which is a shame as true critique should nurture, not demolish.
However, why am I surprised? We come back to my original question, why do we have to be so damnably superior to each other?
I suppose I’ll simply have to accept that since they’ve outlawed bear baiting, badger wrestling, hedgehog football and visiting asylums to laugh at the inmates, the human race has moved on to more subtle forms of cruel entertainment.
Nowadays we sneer at B-list celebs in exotic jungles as they gobble up tarantula faeces on Reality TV. We laugh gleefully while throwing verbal tomatoes at unstable talent show singers who have obvious mental issues or undesirable physical traits. So there shouldn’t really be any surprises when some barren-witted individuals take pleasure in ruining a writer’s run of five star reviews with a one star spite assault. A lot less blood and yet just as pitiless.
However, everyone in this free society has a right to their own opinion and if you think it is acceptable to do this, please tell me why.
Seriously, I’d love to know.
Because hateful expression towards anyone trying to get on in life shouldn’t be allowed full stop…right?
Thanks very much for reading my drivel to the end, (which is more than can be said for the Great Cretino!).
All the best.
Richard Rhys Jones, (Reggie to his mates).
PS. Many thanks to my good friends Samantha Towle and Jessica Delgarmo for the use of their best and most constructive reviews.