Having been the recipient of multiple author tantrums as a result of reviews they didn't like, you'd think I wouldn't be surprised anymore by this kind of behavior. Amazingly, sometimes the meltdowns are so extraordinary that even I'm surprised. Not long after the whole Dilloway Incident was "resolved," a friend emailed me to point me at another author, another indie author, having an even more explosive tantrum about a negative review.
It seems that a reviewer had called his book "pretentious," and he didn't take very kindly to that. Well, he didn't take kindly to the whole thing, especially the 1-star rating, but that particular word, pretentious, seemed to draw particular ire. He called her an idiot who just didn't understand his book. In fact, he called her a lot of things. And, then, he called a lot of people a lot of things as people came to her defense and her right to have not liked his book. He called so many people so many things that goodreads eventually pulled his profile and his books from the site. [They are back, now, which makes me curious as to whether they put them back or if he just made a new profile.]
As the comment thread got longer, he lashed out at pretty much everyone, even people who tried to defend his right to be upset about receiving the negative review. In all of the flailing and raging, two things stood out to me:
1. He said (and I wish I could just go pull the quote but it appears his comments have been removed from the comment thread) that anyone who would give his book a 1-star rating was not anyone whom he would want reading his book to begin with.
2. Giving his book a 1-star rating was an "attack against the consciousness of humanity." [That quote I saved at the time, because it was so outrageous that I didn't want to forget it.] You know, because his book is all deep and meaningful and shhhtuff.
He went on from there to talk about how people who give his books bad ratings, or any indie book, are killing the soul of the world. Personally, I'd say that is a little more than pretentious. All of his comments were like that, lofty and pretentious, so, if his novel was anything similar to his comments, she was probably accurate in calling the book pretentious. [Incidentally, the "misunderstood artist" is one off the asshole archetypes that Aaron James identifies in his book Assholes. This guy who was just "defending" his book fit the definition like a glove. "You just don't understand me!"]
The thing that gets me in all of this is the whole "target audience" idea. The "you didn't like my book, so you're not my target audience and shouldn't have been reading it in the first place" idea.
Unless you, as an author (or any kind of artist), are personally going to hand out copies of your work only to people of your own choosing, people you somehow just know will like it, you don't get to pull that whole "you're not my target audience" crap.
You put your work out for the public, and you live with the results. Period.
Or you don't put it out there.
You want to know what I think is an attack against the consciousness of humanity (and is killing the soul of the world)? All the crap being shoveled out into the marketplace, mostly by, yes, indie authors. Crap that we are then expected to admire and praise.
"Oh, look at the little poopy!"
"It's such a cute little poopy!"
"Just look at the texture and that smell! So exquisite!"
I'm sorry (no, I'm not), but that stuff just hurts my brain. Just, please, call it what it is:
"Dude, that's a pile of shit."
Okay, so, maybe, don't be so crude, but the weight of pretense surrounding indie authors and how good their books are is... well, it's overwhelming.
And, you know, unlike most of you (almost all, in fact), I've tried. Because I'm an indie author and I want people to take a chance with my books, I've tried to do what I think is the right thing and support other indie authors by buying and reading their books. But I think I've hit my limit.
So far, with only a few exceptions, I have powered through even the worst books because I haven't felt like I should review a book I couldn't finish; however, I've come to believe there is some validity (more than just "some") in saying, "This book was so bad that I couldn't finish it." And, so, this latest indie book that I'm reading is so bad that I can't finish it. But that's not what did it. No, it was not just that it was a "bad book" that was the proverbial straw that killed the camel.
What was it then? Well, when I got to the part where my eyes fell out because I couldn't believe what I was reading (and having your eyes fall out just hurts, okay), I went over to Amazon (after laboriously cleaning the carpet fuzz off of my orbs and working them back into my head) to check the reviews of the book. There were a lot of reviews, close to 100, and more than 90% of them are 4- and 5-star ratings, with only one of them being under a 3. My first thought was, "Maybe, it's just me." But, then, I started reading the reviews and all of the reviews (all the ones I read, and I read seven or eight of the 5-star rated reviews) were... The reviews were not "good" reviews. They were not 5-star rating reviews. They were reviews that said things like:
"The beginning of this book was really hard to get through but it got better."
"I had a hard time accepting the insta-love."
"The characters seemed flat."
And, see, the reviews were all from names I recognize as author bloggers. Clearly, it was a case of not wanting to give someone they knew a bad rating.
That's just wrong. There's no other way around it: It's wrong. It's lying to readers who come in and see something like 70 4- and 5-star ratings and think they are buying something that's quality work when it's obviously not. Just because it is the author's "best effort" doesn't mean it's good or quality material or worth having on the market.
So, yeah, I'm pretty much done with indie authors except for those (very) few that I have found I already like. I'll be putting up a tab (hey, it might be there already as you read this, but it's not there while I'm writing it) pointing out the indie books that I think are worth your time; beyond that, I won't be sifting through other indie books trying to support other indie authors who
1. aren't doing anything themselves to support other indie authors (and)
2. aren't putting out anything worth reading, anyway.
However, if you want to run the risk of having me review your book, I will take requests. (I'll put up a tab for that, too (which may also already be there.)
Look, what I'm saying here is this:
It is not an "attack against the consciousness of humanity" to give a book a bad review (unless you're just doing it to be mean or spiteful). What is an attack against the consciousness of humanity is to lie in a review just to make someone feel good or to keep from hurting someone's feelings. Reviews are not for authors; they're for readers. You are doing an injustice to those readers when you don't tell the truth because you're worried about how the author is going to take it. You're also doing an injustice to the author, but that's a whole other topic (and one I've already talked about (not that I haven't talked about all of this before, anyway)).
This has been brought to you in part by the IWSG.