Monday, December 17, 2012

Putting Yourself Out There

I recently experienced an incident with another author that has me questioning, once again, whether I should be reviewing books.  I reviewed this person’s book, generally praising it and also listing a few minor issues I had with the story. It was a mixed review, but a positive one, in my view, and I ended by recommending the book.

The author, however, was so incensed that I had the nerve to give him a three-star rating, that he sent me a scathing note, going point by point over my issues, explaining to me why I didn’t know shit from Shinola.  It turned into an ugly assault on me.

Evidently this author thinks he’s a cross between Hemingway, Capote and Greene, and expects all reviewers to bow before him with offerings of five-star accolades. I wish him success.

I did not take his attack too personally, knowing from my own experience how fragile a writer’s ego can be. And I stand by my comments and my rating of his story. Nevertheless, this has happened several times now, and it does have me wondering if I should throw in the towel.

The reason I review books is solely to shine a light on works by people who write about gay characters and/or gay themes. I began reviewing gay fiction several years ago when there were few sites that showcased lgbtq fiction. But if these very people I’m trying to help are rabidly against me, then why should I bother?  Why should I devote a week of reading someone’s work, and then a few hours of crafting a review, if the author fails to appreciate it?

I have learned that when you put yourself out there, no matter what your intentions, some folks will welcome it and some won’t. Some praise while others slander. I confess I’m growing tired of it.

I have a stack of books that I have committed to review, which will take me well into the Spring of 2013. After that, who knows? I suspect I will wrestle with this issue for weeks or months, whether to continue reviewing. I had already stopped accepting new review copies simply because my to-be-reviewed stack had grown too high. So it should be an easy thing not to start it up again. Time will tell.


Victor j. Banis said...

Alan, I for one would hate to see you stop reviewing because your reviews are insightful, and because, frankly, there aren't a lot of reviewers whose taste and judgment I trust. I come at the review process a bit differently - I don't do negative reviews. If I don't like a book, I just put it aside. Writers take enough lumps without me beating up on them as well. That said, however, I do know that even when I've given a book a positive review, there are always those who won't be happy that I didn't praise it more fully. I think you just have to accept that it goes with the territory and remind yourself not to revew that author again. And I don't see any point in getting into a fight with them. I won't, in fact. I just don't reply to those posts. I did post comments to a book by my frind Lori Lake, because someone had torn her and her book apart and I thought it was unfair. But the same person just wrote back again, an even more scathing post, at which point I told Lori I thought we were only fanning the flames by trying to reason with her.

And there are reviewers I don't read. Amos Lassen won't read my books, so I don't read his reviews, which seems fair enough to me (he doesn't review e-books, and I can't afford to buy print copies and send to him.)

Cryselle said...

The reviews aren't for the authors. It's nice that they can and often do get some marketing tidbits out of them, but the readers are your audience. They're the ones will miss your comments the most. Don't let a prima donna (primo don?) chase you out of reviewing. I've gotten a few notes from authors explaining how "I just didn't get it" and was wrong not to award two more stars, or that last half star. I won't review them again. There are plenty of others.

@Victor I always wondered what Amos does with those stacks of books.