You know...as a writer, I understand the importance of reviews. I need them, not only as a marketing tool, but as a tool for growth as a writer. Constructive criticism has been invaluable in helping me improve my craft.
But here's the thing. It seems to me that book reviewing has become a bloodsport, where the objective is not to review a book in good faith. Rather, it has become an exercise in grandstanding - of unloading with the snarkiest take downs, of maligning the writer with the slickest burns possible.
It's been apparent on #Goodreads for a while - (Like, what is it with these *reviewers* and gifs??) It's also an emerging trend on Netgalley - (minus the gifs).
Here's the thing. I generally turn around a title in 18 months to 2 years. I pour countless hours into it - honing character, setting, story into a cohesive whole. I work with an editor, a publisher, a marketer to refine the project & polish it into the best product it can be. I sweat over it. Experience sleepless nights. I run the gamut of all the highs and lows that a creative endeavor offers.
Then I, along with my publisher put it out there to garner advance appraisal, months before release. We hope for reviews because, as I said, they are important. They help to build an awareness for the product and, hopefully a positive buzz that will translate into readers. Generally, I take a lot of notice of 3* reviews (even more than 5* or 4*) because these offer the most in terms of constructive criticism. I have yet to encounter a 1* or 2* review that offer anything of value.
Often, these reviews hide an underlying agenda and I've come to view them as the reviewer trying to build a brand of their own, which has very little to with the noble art of reviewing a book. Appraising an entire project, simply because a character "pissed you off" is not worth the keyboard strokes. Seriously! It just makes you look like an arsehole. Did you consider maybe that was the intention? And a 1* review that damns a project, simply because it's "Slow"?
Not every reading experience has to move like a freight train! Tell me why you thought it was slow. What was it about the structural elements of the story that failed to gel with you? Tell me why the character pissed you off. Don't just drop these in my lap & walk away without fleshing out your reasoning. It does nothing!
There should be a commitment to learning the art of a review - & there is an art. If you're going to invest the time in crafting a review, at least work on making that review one that can help an author, rather than discourage them. If you can find nothing of value in a work, don't write a review at all. Keep your slick burns and your smart arsed gifs to yourself.
I am a writer. I believe I'm good at it - but I also believe I have more to learn.