I shouldn't do this.
No really. I'm probably asking for a shit storm to land here but, what the hell.
Yeah, if you're bored already or feel it's been done to death then you can move on - no hard feelings.
I'm coming at this in my normal nonsensical way. I'm not really sure where these quotes will take me but, in for a penny, in for a pound.
This might get gritty and if you don't like cussin' then get thee gone!
Ohhh, we have a few brave ones do we?
You've been warned!
If you have not been out and about then you might not know that there are exactly two sides to the debate of reviewing books. The side that says 'play nice' and the side that says 'honesty is the best policy'.
Okay, there are the fence sitters who say, some honesty with a play nice attitude can go far. It's not that I don't agree with this but, if you have read a truly horrible book then I don't think you should have to say you liked that it was printed on recycled paper. Although, that probably says it all. Now that I think on it, I may use that in future reviews.
Hey, you'll know I really didn't like something if I say it *wasn't* printed on recycled paper! Ah, we've got a secret code now.
Let's start with this quote:
Prolonged, indiscriminate reviewing of books is a quite exceptionally thankless, irritating and exhausting job. It not only involves praising trash but constantly inventing reactions towards books about which one has no spontaneous feeling whatever.
George Orwell (1903-1950) British novelist, essayist, and critic
God Bless him! Apparently he had to live in the world of 'play nice' and he makes it plainly evident just how much of a pain in the ass it is. I wish they could put a date to this little piece of wonder. Why? To look at the reviews before and after. Did he ever just give up and say, 'this is trash!'. How do you begin to trust a reviewer who openly says they can't say anything bad about someone else's work.
I learned this the hard way, not from reviewers themselves but, from one Jayne Ann Krentz. At one point I loved this author's work and if I saw her name on a cover endorsing just how wonderful a new book was I would buy it. It didn't take me long to wonder just what the heck the woman had been smoking when she read the book. (This was before the internet) I started to notice that almost every book printed had a quote from her on the front. It actually began to backfire for authors (although they probably didn't know it) because I wouldn't buy a book that had her recommendation on it. I wondered if she was getting paid for every quote she put out there because this woman was busy and she had to be getting some sort of benefit from putting her name on less than stellar books.
My feeling is that JAK may be one of those people who believes you have to play nice. What I don't think these kind of people realize is that it is going to bite them in the ass sooner or later. By putting her name on just about anything she has made it so her name is no longer valuable or for that matter credible.
Let's get away from authors for now because truly, they are going to circle the wagons and who can blame them. I don't care what they say about reviewers as a rule because they are the ones getting the review. If they want to say that so and so has monkeys flying out of their butt because they couldn't see the wonder of their work, have at it. Doesn't have you coming off well in public but, do what you want. Maybe people will find you eccentric.
What about reader's who feel they have to be nice?
I personally think they are writing in their spare time. A reader is only looking for one thing and that is a great story. If a reader comes across a story that is a complete waste of time then they are usually upset and want to warn others away. I know as a reader, not only do I want to know what books a person loves, I want to know what books they hate.
There are books that I love that I know other people hate. Not only that, there are books that I have hated that others have said, they loved. The good news is that there is a sharing of what made a book a keeper or a tosser. Usually from that description a person is able to decide if the book would be right for them.
I have said it before and I'll say it just one more time. The year that Into the Fire by Anne Stuart won for worst romance at AAR, I did a little jig because I knew it meant it was going to be a keeper for me. Hey, it wasn't her best book but, I did love it!
The public is the only critic whose opinion is worth anything at all.
Mark Twain (1835-1910) U.S. humorist, writer, and lecturer.
Braver words have not been spoken by a writer. Now, maybe he was trying to say that critics blow and not knowing that readers would one day have a way to communicate their love or hate of a book, he put his faith in the public who bought and loved his books. Hey, everyone loves a good pat on the back but, don't we all, deep down inside, know if we are truly deserving of such?
To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.
Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915) American editor, publisher, and author of the mora
I like this one. I have lived this one at times and I don't think it is any way to live. We need input to get better. We were born to make mistakes and to fail (I have done so miserably) and no, it is not fun to be down on the ground but, having been in university I could tell you exactly which essay I wrote would get a better mark than another.
I read an author's response to nasty reviews saying that while writing the book her family was going through a horrible trauma but that the book had to be written. She didn't tell people this but, since reader's couldn't possibly know what was going on in her life, they shouldn't be judging.
Okay, fair enough.
My interpretation of this? The author knows it is not their best work.
So why is it surprising that reviews will pop up saying, this book was a mess or good Lord, this person needs to stop writing! If an author is going to write, then write. I'm not saying criticism is easy or palatable but if a couple people saying you shouldn't be a writer is enough to get you to put your pen down? Then, you don't want to be a writer.
I am one of those people who believe the best is far behind Julie Garwood. Doesn't matter though. The writer in her gets up everyday and writes. She is a New York Times Bestselling author and must have lots of readers who love what she is doing today. I mean, if she didn't then she wouldn't still be publishing in hardcover and making the bestseller lists. Her career path took her away from what I loved best about her books so even though I won't buy them, there are many people out there who discovered her new work and liked what they saw. It's just that I believe she has done better.
I would rather be attacked than unnoticed. For the worst thing you can do to an author is to be silent as to his works. An assault upon a town is a bad thing; but starving it is still worse.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) British author.
Ah, my favourite kind of person. I'll take the bad because it means someone out there cares enough to not only have read my work but to talk about it. Hey, I wonder if this is the guy who came up with the 'there is no such thing as bad press'.
To be fair, there are just as many quotes from people about the horrors of being criticized.
If you must speak ill of another, do not speak it, write it in the sand near the water's edge''
Napoleon Hill (1883-1970) American speaker and motivational writer.
In all honesty, I have no idea what this guy is trying to say. My interpretation is that if you are going to say something bad, do it in a roundabout manner. Maybe behind the person's back? Although the more I think on it I guess he is saying don't speak it. Course, he is a motivational writer so he is more of a cheerleader than someone who will be honest in their assessment. I'm thinking Paula Abdul.
If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me won't amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, then ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference.
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) Politician. President of the United States
I really want to read a book about this man's life. What I have read is fascinating and knowing that it is believed he suffered from social anxiety makes him even more of a hero to me. Obviously a man who understands false praise is worth nothing in the grand scheme of things. You can have a bevy of people telling you you are the best writer ever but, if in the end, you discover that there are many more in the world who believe you are not even close, then this will be what bears fruit.
I for one am grateful to have found so many people who love romance books and want to discuss the good, the great and the OMG what was she thinking! Before this we were treated to reviews that were just a run down of the plot with a couple of stars to show it was a gem. I assume it came from a generation scorned for their choice in reading.
Sure, some of that scorn is still there today, but, you know, bite me.
At this point it is time to take off those lacy gloves and let the genre finally get the respect it deserves. By allowing for open discussion and critiquing we show that we are not afraid of the literary world.
We know good from bad and we aren't afraid to prove it.
Now, if you'll excuse me I'm sure this post has shown my seething rage over - shit, what was it again Kristie? - and I will now check myself in for some counseling.