You’re so unclassy, Theodore!
I’ve gotten a few (always anonymous) comments about my reviewing other IR authors’ novels. My first response to my very first comment is here.
But I wanted to answer this comment, because 1) I was super-impressed that someone leaving one of these comments admitted to being another IR Romance Author. Finally! Maybe someone will actually use their name one of these days–fingers crossed for 2014. And, 2) It brought me some amusement, because initially I was accused of getting sales by reviewing way more successful authors’ books. However, this writer is accusing me of being an established writer that gets off on belittling new writers. This is a step up, and it made The Jeffersons theme song go off in my head.
Some pre-negotiations if the commenter or anyone else chooses to reply. I’ll leave the original comment up. That’s fine. But if you want to leave further comments and/or have a discussion about this topic, here are the rules:
You have to read my original post on why I both review and write.
You have to read my reaction to your comment in its entirety.
You can disagree with me, but if you attack me as a person–“oh you’re terrible, you’re the devil, you’re a hack, blah blah blah,” I’m just going to delete any follow-up comments you leave and go about my day. You’ll see that I don’t personally attack anyone in my response below and I expect the same respect.
Here’s the comment, copied and pasted verbatim, which I’ll address point-by-point below it:
As a fellow interracial romance author I think writing bad reviews of other books in the genre is in bad taste and doesn’t speak well for our genre. It’s not any different than running around Amazon leaving bad reviews on your competitor’s books. Theodore, your books do well enough that you don’t need to belittle the new writers who are, I’m sure, trying their best. I’ve read Naomi Lecroy’s first book and thought it was pretty good for a first book. Most of her Amazon reviews were 4 and 5 stars. How do you think she would feel if she read your review of the second one? While we don’t need to give away our trade secrets, I do think as a group of authors we should strive to have some class and be above doing things like this. Sure, there’s some pretty bad books in the IR romance these days, but I would never give someone a bad review in our same genre because its bad karma. What if we all started review blogs and ran down each other’s books? We all use the same keywords, etc. so this is just BAD business. Let’s all show some class ladies! We don’t want to end up like some of the urban fiction writers who are threatening to fight each other on a daily basis. Seriously, this doesn’t set well.
1. Bad taste is totally relative. Award-winning novelists review other novelists’ work all the time. Fine, this commenter think it’s in bad taste. I think complaining about bad reviews is in bad taste–I mean, really bad taste. Stalemate shrug.
2.How do you think [Naomi Lecroy] would feel if she read your review? The same way every author feels when she reads a bad review. This is why I don’t read reviews, why I don’t seek them out–because “I’m an artist, and I sensitive about my shit.” My basic life philosophy is that everyone is allowed an opinion–especially if they spend money on the thing they are opining about; and no one else is obligated to pay any attention to that opinion whatsoever.
3. Are there trade secrets? What are they? I’d love to know them.
4. What if we all started review blogs and ran down each other’s books? I mean, okay, let’s consider that. First of all, I’m sure you realize that I don’t exclusively give C reviews to other books. I’m one to put a truly bad book down without finishing, and I never review a book I haven’t finished, so the vast majority of my reviews are B’s, with A’s coming in second, C’s third, and the rare D trailing in last place.
So what you’re really asking is what would happen if all IR writers started review blogs, in which they gave serious consideration to a genre that’s often ignored by mainstream review blogs. Judging from all the email and comments I got while I was on maternity leave, wondering when I would update this blog, I’m thinking readers would be very grateful to hear what their favorite IR authors thought of other books. Quite frankly, if it’s an author I really like, like Delaney Diamond (who I’ve given both good and middling reviews), I’ll read anything she recommends on Goodreads.
So if all authors reviewed books, I think it would be pretty good business. I make enough to pay a babysitter for date night in monthly Amazon Associate fees, so that’s awesome business. And you’d be shocked how many people go’on ahead and buy the books I’ve given C and D reviews. Keep in mind that even if a ton of people buy the book I just reviewed, I will never make as much money in piddly Amazon fees as the author does on copies sold. So don’t worry, if Naomi Lecroy does herself the disservice of reading this or any other bad review, she’ll have the money she’ll make because I gave TO HOLD AND TO HEAL a B+ review to comfort her.
I said it in the beginning and I’ll say it again now, other authors benefit way more from these reviews than I do. Also, if it ever came to pass that more authors complained to me directly about this blog than authors write me asking me to review their books, then sure I’d consider putting a pin in it. But so far that hasn’t happened. I think a lot of people are just happy to have someone reviewing the IR genre, and I feel continuously guilty about my backlog of review requests.
5. I’m not sure what this karma would entail, but I’m fairly sure that I would still get bad reviews if I weren’t also writing reviews. I’m also assuming the commenting author doesn’t write reviews and has still gotten bad reviews despite her good karma.
The main thing is that I simply don’t think what I’m doing is a terrible thing. I strive to give thoughtful reviews that really breaks down for the potential reader why a book may or may not work for them.
On a personal note, my husband reads my Amazon reviews and will occasionally pass on some info from a thoughtful one-star review–for example, this reader was offended by X or this reader found Y impossible to believe. Okay, now I know. Sometimes I file it away for future books, but most of the time I just shake it off. I’m very lucky to have a lot of readers that really love what I love to write. Really, it would be greedy and ridiculous to expect every single person who reads my books to love every single thing I write. That’s just not how the world works.
Also, I don’t believe in karma, so there’s that.
6. Class is, again, relative. I had no idea urban fiction writers were fighting. Seriously? They should do what I do and try to never, ever pay attention to what others are saying about them. Maybe other authors have complained about me or my books or my reviews on their own blogs. I totally wouldn’t know, and I’m not beefing with any of them (as far as I know), because I’m not paying attention to them. I’m just writing and reviewing and reading and mothering and wifeing and dayjobbing, and I hope it doesn’t upset this commenter too much when I say, I’m totally happy doing what I do. And so many good things have happened since I started both writing and reviewing IR that I’m pretty well convinced that I must be doing something right.
Whew! Now back to writing…