authors and reviewers

If you missed yesterday's blogosphere brouhaha between an author and a book review site, consider yourself lucky. I won't be posting links here, because truth be told, both sides have gotten a bit shrill and it's turned into a cat-fight.

I do have a couple of thoughts on the matter, and I feel qualified to speak, both as a reviewer and as an author with a debut novel. I read both the review and the author's rebuttal. The review was not professional, but the site never claimed to be a professional book review site. It appeared to me that these individuals were reviewing and discussing books they liked or disliked. Period.

The author really should have let the whole thing go. It was obvious from the review that the reviewer was basing her opinion on personal issues she had with the characters. Now, instead of one bad review sitting out there in cyber-land where it would have eventually shuffled to the bottom of the heap, the author has turned everyone's attention to that one bad review. Unfortunately, it will be the review that everyone remembers when this author's name is brought up.

I've been reviewing books for our library's book blog since 2007 (and no, I had no idea I had been doing it that long until yesterday). Most of my reviews are for books I like or love, and I do that for two reasons: 1) I don't see the point in promoting bad books; and 2) there are too many good books out there for me to waste my time writing about bad ones.

I also read other book review blogs and subscribe to quite a few. When I read other people's book reviews, I look for the objectivity of the reviewer. If the review is snarky and sounds more like a rant than a review, I blow it off and don't pay any attention to it. I think most people are like that. The author who went off on her own rant would do well to remember that.

As an author, I would be kidding myself to say there will be no bad reviews for Miserere. Not everyone is going to like my novel and that's okay. I will be reading reviews, because I want to know what flaws the readers see in the story. I'm smart enough to know the difference between someone's personal opinion and a serious technical flaw in my work.

Most authors are.

I think we all need to take a deep breath here and realize that while not all book review sites are going to provide a balanced review, they are entitled to their opinions. Likewise, authors have complete control over how they respond to those opinions.

Usually, it's best just to stay silent.