How (this) Reader would wish for her review to be received by the author

It seems that on a practically daily basis, some author out there in cyberauthorland feels the need to instruct reviewers in the mechanics or ethics of reviewing. From well-known, best-selling authors to the most obscure self-published author who has published one 68 page novella on amazon, many authors seem to feel completely entitled to authorsplain the obligations of reviewing to the people who are doing the reviewing.

Stop it.

No, really, stop it. Just like the guy who recently tried to mansplain to me how grand juries work (I’m a prosecutor, I know how they work), you need to stop your bloody authorsplaining. Here is an only slightly irrational and/or exaggerated response to the most common demands:

1. If your review isn’t going to be 4 or 5 stars, contact me privately with your complaints:

I’m not your beta reader, your crit partner, or your mommy (unless you’re my child, in which case, we would have already had this conversation face-to-face). Hence, you can assume that I have two audiences in mind for my reviews: myself (to put my thoughts in order) and my readers (who are usually my friends). For that reason, I feel utterly uncompelled to directly address you, your typos, your homonym confusion, and/or your plot holes the size of a friggin’ wormhole. My review isn’t for you.

I will embroider this on a decorative pillow for you, if you like.

Review Pillow

Available in multiple colors. Not really, I actually just made it on picmonkey. But, you get the point.

2. Don’t review a book if you haven’t read it to the end. Preferably twice, so I know that you didn’t miss how I explained that plot hole that my beta readers warned me about in one sentence at the bottom of page 232.

Listen. I don’t need to consume an entire plate of feces to determine that it tastes like shit. In the same way, I don’t need to read your entire book to decide I don’t like it. And if I don’t like it, I can talk about the fact that I didn’t like it enough to finish it in public on the internet. The end.

3. Before you criticize my grammar and/or writing skills, make sure your review is perfectly written and formatted.

I’m writing for free, on the internet. You’re not. You don’t have to pay me if my grammar isn’t perfect. Isn’t that awesome? Of course, you don’t have to pay me even if my grammar is perfect, but in any case, only one of us thinks we should profit from the quality of our words. It’s not me. If my grammar is less than perfect, no one will expect a refund.

4. Don’t be mean – this book is my baby.

Think of me like your baby’s employer. She’s all grown up now, you see, and she’s graduated from high school (maybe even college) and you’ve sent her out into the world on her own, to make her fortune. Basically, I’m the person who signs her paycheck. It’s not my job to be nice to your baby. It’s my job to convey to her that she has skills worth paying for – otherwise, she should move back home for redrafting.

Thank you very much for leaving me alone. To read.

28 Comments

  1. No one could have said this any better. Thank you for explaining. Again.

    • Christine

      January 14, 2015 at 8:56 am

      It feels like we are going to have to have this conversation once a week, ad infinitum (and ad nauseum).

  2. Yeah, you beat me to this. But I’m not gonna be nearly as nice as you when I get to it, tho.

  3. Your response to the “my babies1” argument is absolutely fantastic–thank you for articulating this so well.

  4. Agree! Your response to the babies argument is one that I’ll be using now moving forward. And the plate of feces! Priceless!

  5. Obsidian Blue (@obsidian_blue)

    January 15, 2015 at 4:06 am

    Ha! I saw this on BL already but DA picked it up too. I just still can’t get over the authorsplaining going on. It is still January and I hope this month is the only month we see these shennigans play out.

    • Christine

      January 15, 2015 at 8:49 am

      Yes, I saw that – it has shown from my blog traffic, which is insane. I usually get somewhere around 20 readers a day. 😉

  6. Your take on this subject was fantastic. Can I just add one more point?

    If your book has been announced with a release date and it has been postponed over and over again…no matter the reasoning, it is going to affect how I feel about your book. It had better be terrific with an extra helping of awesome sauce or it is going to be reflected in my enjoyment of the work and how I describe my experience to others.

    I’m not such a b*tch that I don’t understand how deadlines can slip or technical details can cause delays but come on, I know several writers that haven’t met a deadline they can’t blow past; repeatedly, and by the time I have their book in hand I am already at level 8 irritation.

  7. Fabulous. You summed it up perfectly. Thanks so much for the brilliant explanation!

  8. This thing needs a ‘like’ button. With a ‘+1000 LIKE’ option.

  9. Seriously, I really want that pillow. No joke. Someone make it, please! I will buy one, or two, or three!!!

  10. Hi Christine,

    Yes, I’m an author, but I agree 100% with everything here. (And my tweet with this link received many RTs, so hopefully your message is being heard–by authors. 😉 ) Thank you for stating this so well!

  11. I like the last part the best. Some books are just not good and I do not review for the author so I’m going to be my free, honest, opinions on the internet.

  12. I have sent this to the authors for whom I edit. Sound advice.

  13. This post is full of awesome. Awesome, all over it.

  14. I do agree with everything you say here. It sums up the way I see blogging in such a clear way that I’d like to translate it and put it in my blog as ‘My philosophy of blogging’.

  15. “You can assume that I have two audiences in mind for my reviews: myself (to put my thoughts in order) and my readers (who are usually my friends). For that reason, I feel utterly uncompelled to directly address you, your typos, your homonym confusion, and/or your plot holes the size of a friggin’ wormhole. My review isn’t for you.”

    THIS!

  16. Sounds fair to me.

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