Warning: I am about to rant.
A year or so ago, I became an Amazon Vine reviewer. (Which is very cool but not the point here.) My review ranking there is fairly high, which means a lot of people ‘like’ my reviews. The combination, apparently, carries a lot of weight with some readers. This draws the attention of authors, particularly indie authors looking to build reviews. The result is me getting swamped with review requests. I sometimes get as many as five in one week. I read two to three books per week, so you see the problem I have in keeping up.
I love to read, and I like to help my fellow authors. Accepting their requests was something I thought would benefit both myself and the authors. Now I’m not so sure. I’ve met some incredibly talented, humble, appreciative authors this way. I’ve also met a handful of spiteful… I’ll just say those few have made me rethink accepting review requests.
Recently, I received a request from an author I’d never heard of, whose book is set in early A.D. Rome. Anyone who has followed my reviews of historical fiction knows this genre is an especially tricky one for me. I’m fussy about details. I’m clear about that from the outset. This is an issue I do not sway on.
The plot concept for this book intrigued me, and that period in history is one of my favorites. Before becoming immersed in the indie community, I read a lot of ‘ancient’ history texts. My older son, whose IQ is in the stratosphere, has been a history buff since about the age of 8. Both of my sons and I have spent afternoons discussing the historical aspects of the Bible, which, as you know, occurs at about that same period in history. My older son and I have spent countless hours discussing historical figures, wars, and entire civilizations. History has always been a hot topic in my house.
Fast forward: I read the book in question. While the writing is good, the details didn’t work for me. I didn’t feel I was in early A.D. Rome, at least not all the time. Some of the details were spot on. Others were completely out of place. I gave the book 3-stars and, as I always do in my reviews, I stated exactly what I liked and didn’t like. I didn’t rip apart the book. In fact, I was careful to start out with the positives. When I listed the negatives, I was specific and made sure to state they were issues for me personally.
Soon afterward, I received an email from the author with this message: “Thought you might enjoy my new blog post”, along with his blog link. That’s it. He didn’t acknowledge that I’d taken the time to read and review his book; didn’t even bother to address me by name. By the Subject title in the email, I knew his blog post would be a rant about me. His comment about me enjoying his blog post was a thinly veiled bash. And this irritated me to no end. If someone has a problem with a review I write, address me directly. Have the courtesy to acknowledge me. Most of all, have respect.
Of the 500 or so print books I have on my shelves, approximately half remain unread. I have at least that many books waiting on my Kindle, and several hundred more on my wish list. The reason so many of the books I want to read remain unread is because I spend my time reading books authors send me (ebooks, I might add, which cost them nothing to send). I do this because I know how important reviews are for an author. I do not do this because I want free books. Just the opposite. I would like a little time to read the books I own. And I really love to shop for books.
As you know, I am also an author. I know firsthand that receiving a 3-star review isn’t the best feeling. I also have enough common sense to know not everyone will love, or even like, my books. If someone gives me 3-stars (or the dreaded 1- or 2-stars), but takes the time to explain why, I have to respect that person’s opinion. After all, that’s all a review is: One person’s opinion. I am entitled to my opinions, just as that author, and all of you, are entitled to yours. I do not appreciate being made to feel as if my opinion is somehow wrong or unworthy, simply because it doesn’t meet a person’s expectations. I don’t appreciate the lack of respect for my time or for me personally.
Do not ask me to read/review your book with the presumption I will love it – or pretend to. If your ego can’t handle a 3-star review, you are in the wrong business.
This morning, I had to reply to someone who attacked my review on Amazon. This person is not an active reviewer and, interestingly enough, attacked the same specific issue in my review that the author attacked in his blog post. Coincidence?
I simply do not need this kind of irritation in my life. I have enough stress of my own, without dealing with the tantrums of spoiled authors.
You know the saying, One bad apple spoils the whole bunch… ? Yeah, that’s what has happened here for me.
I’ve decided I will no longer accept review requests. I’ll finish up the list of books I’ve already agreed to read and review. From then on, I’ll read what I want to read, when I want to read it. If I review something of yours, and you don’t like what I have to say, feel free to rant about me on your own blog. But I have better things to do than worry about outsized egos.
** I’ve resisted the temptation to send the author in question an email with the words, “Thought you might enjoy my new blog post”, along with this post’s link. **
Tags: Amazon Reviews, Amazon Vine Reviewers, book reviewers, book reviews, Books About Ancient Rome, historical fiction, Historical Fiction Reviews, Opinion Articles, Opinion Pieces, Profanity in Ancient Rome, Profanity in Books, Roman History, Writing Historical Fiction