I’m going to veer off topic this week. Only slightly off topic. And I feel I’m able to because I picked this week’s subject and everyone else seems to have said pretty much what I would have said about this subject.
So, instead of talking about constructive criticism, I want to talk about unconstructive criticism.
Or, as it’s more commonly called, Amazon reviews.
I remember reading my first Amazon review and being stung by the vitriol. The words waste of money and crap were bandied around in there. Obviously everyone’s entitled to their opinion (even twunts) but it’s disheartening when the only words written about your hard endeavours are the words ‘waste of money’ and ‘crap.’ It’s not exactly the sort of thing editors look to use as strap-lines for future titles.
More recently I’ve noticed my titles are what we in the UK call Marmite titles – people either love them or hate them. The five star reviews sit next to single star reviews (which invariably complain that there is no option for delivering a no-star review). These are two example reviews from the same title:
“A wonderful piece of erotic fiction set around the workings of a SM club. I was unable to put this book down - reading it from start to finish in one day. So good to read a book that explores Male Domination and female submission without a hint of abuse. The story also touches on Fem Dom/ fem sub - read it to find out more!”
“This is one of the most boring and predictable pieces of fiction from this genre that I have come across. The characters are wooden and stereotyped. I found it impossible to care what happened to any of them. Don't waste your money.”
I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before, but one of my favourite low reviews came with the words, “You can tell this book was written by a woman, because she takes 100 pages to get to the story.”
I dearly wanted to post a message underneath saying, “You can tell this review was written by a sexist sh*t because it was written by a sexist sh*t.”
I also had a book reviewed with the words, “If you like to read about old priests shagging young lasses, then this is the book for you.” Just to mess with my head that reviewer gave my book five stars.
I continue reading new Amazon reviews when they’re posted even though the criticism is seldom constructive. Good or bad, the story either works for a reader or it doesn’t. The point is, if someone’s taken the time to read my work, and then taken the extra effort to post an opinion on Amazon, I ought to read it and see whether or not I’m doing my job to the reader’s satisfaction.