A Call for Fairness in Critique…
We write a novel, we get it published. So far so good. And then… drum roll… part the curtains… bring out the fanfare… along come the inevitable book reviews.
We say we won’t take them personally (of course). Because heaven knows, we’ve learned through the mistakes of our author friends who positively exploded into rage or tears – sometimes both, when that first ‘mean’ review wended its way onto Amazon and Goodreads… for the entire world to now get sidestepped into the icy blast of negativity.
We’re ready, armed and prepared. We won’t even bother to read what such naysayers have to say about our years of creativity, blood, sweat – and more tears.
Until it happens to us… and we’ll ‘just read this first one… for curiosity’s sake’.
The can of worms has been opened.
Pandora’s box should have stayed shut.
It’s the most giant thwack in the solar plexus. Don’t they know we’ve been romancing this book for years? And how very dare they! Why don’t they try writing a freakin’ novel, hey? Yep… didn’t think so. All mouth, no trousers. All substance, no style.
Which is probably the most polite version of our actual flurries of words in the painful aftermath of said event.
For my part, the 1 and 2 star reviews DO get easier. I tend to shrug my shoulders now, focus on the positive 4 and 5 stars that represent what my book means to me. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, after all. And apparently, having a cluster of 1 and 2 star reviews makes us look more ‘real’ as writers… less like our novels have solely been bought by family and friends.
I’ll go along with that.
But there is one thing I will NOT go along with. And I am pretty sure I am not alone…
The 1 and 2 star reviews from ‘readers’ who didn’t flaming finish the book!
Why, that’s like going out for a three course meal and only eating starters.
That’s like getting dressed and only wearing a pair of socks.
That’s like claiming you ‘did’ Glastonbury Festival in ’94 and only watching Björk.
That’s like walking off centre court after Federer has lost his first set.
That’s like opening a pack of jelly babies and only eating the green ones.
That’s like going to Spain and only visiting Benidorm.
That’s like watching Strictly Come Dancing and switching off after Ann Widdecombe opens the show perched ‘eloquently’ on a swing.
(I couldn’t source any free images of Ann Widdecombe on a swing, so you’ll have to use your imagination at this point.)
That’s like listening to a dozen beats of the opening verse of a contestant’s song on The Voice. And we all know how many judges press that button, turn that chair at the goose bump inducing height of the crescendo. The same applies to our words and our characters… give them chance. Like a good wine, let them breathe!
That’s like judging a book by its cover…