Books Are Written By Humans

by limebirdwriters

When I’m looking for a new book to read, one of the first things I’ll do is have a nosey around online to see what other people are saying about it. I don’t necessarily use the reviews to decide whether to purchase or not, but I do like to see what people are saying. But sometimes, every now and then I’ll come across a review that makes me step back and think “Did I genuinely just read that?”

Ok, I understand that not every book is for everyone, and there are some books that I’ve read that I’ve thought “Yep, well that was a waste of time wasn’t it?”, but you know what I do? I’ll probably grumble about it for a little while, maybe message a friend, but then that’s it. The reason that I don’t tend to take it any further, is that I try to remember that books are written by humans. Some person just like you or me has put their heart and soul into that book. Especially if they’ve self published, they’ve painstakingly gone through that book line by line, picking out bits to change and making the cover and inserting line breaks and paragraphs. There’s a human there who’s excitedly looking through the reviews to see if people are enjoying their story, relating their characters, and there it is, right in front of them, a bad review. But not just a bad review, a horrible, personal, scathing review about their book, and it’s heartbreaking.

Now I know that in this industry we have to have a tough skin, it comes with the territory. Show me any book that has 5 stars across the board and I’ll eat my hat, but that doesn’t mean it hurts any less when it happens. But what really gets me, is those people who think that it’s ok from one human to another to write something so terrible about something they’ve produced. What makes it worse is that people seem to get more brave over the internet, behind the safety of their screen. I wonder if they would be so brave saying it to that author’s face?

The thought of leaving a review on someone’s Amazon or Goodreads etc that’s a scathing attack on an author and their book so foul it makes people reading it cringe just wouldn’t even cross my mind.  Especially on Goodreads recently, I’ve seen some disgraceful reviews on books, especially self published ones, which make me sad to even be part of the writing community.

One of the reasons why I created Limebird was to have a place to encourage people to write, to take a chance and release their story into the world. The thought of those people then getting ripped to shreds and possibly not writing again just makes me sad. If you didn’t like a book, there’s no need to be a scumbag about it. If you’re going to write a review and you didn’t like it, then fine, but hand out some constructive criticism, which clearly outlines things that maybe weren’t to your tastes, and maybe the author could take those pointers into consideration in their next book.

What are your opinions on these types of book reviews?

42 Comments to “Books Are Written By Humans”

  1. Thank you and YES to all. As an author, I’ll just leave it there. bravo

  2. I if really don’t like something then I don’t review it. If I do a review I always try to be constructive in my criticism because I think to myself, how would I feel reading this review if it was my work?

  3. If a book is really bad, I don’t finish reading it–but neither do I trash it or the author online. Who gains anything from an attack review?

    If I read a book that I find ultimately disappointing, and I want to review it, then I try to take a balanced approach to discussing its failings. After the book is already out, criticism of it doesn’t help the author to make it better–tho it might help them on the next one. So I’d think the main goal in reviewing is to aid other readers in considering whether to read the book, and readers who have read it might have some other ways to think about the book.

  4. Excellent post and well said! I agree with the commenters above, if I don’t like it and I can’t think of anything constructive to say, then I don’t say anything at all. We all enjoy different books and as authors we accept that we are not going to please everyone, but that doesn’t mean people have to be rude!

  5. Hear, hear, Beth! There’s no reason for personal attacks, even if one doesn’t care for a book. I won’t review most books at all because the concepts of “good” and “bad” are so subjective. Only in rare cases will I leave an Amazon review for a blog buddy. And I won’t review books by writers I know on my blog. In those that I do leave, I try to discuss the book objectively and let readers form their own opinions.

    But there’s no good reason or justification for trolling and trashing. And I have no use for people who engage in that behavior.

    • Thanks JM! 🙂 Thanks for your comment too, I agree wholeheartedly. I just don’t get it, what do you gain from a personal nasty attack on a book or an author? Like I’ve said above, whenever I put anything online, I try to picture how I would feel if I was the one receiving the response. I wish a lot people did the same!

  6. I agree. It is unfortunate that the lack of civility is becoming epidemic on social media. It occurs on the other side of the keyboard as well.

  7. I I enjoy rating and commenting on books on Twitter or in my blog but as an author myself I endeavor to be as constructive, respectful and positive as possible. It’s especially difficult to deal with badly written or poorly edited self-published books by friends or acquaintances. Turning a blind eye to work that could be better is not doing a favor to the writer or the reader. Occasionally I embrace the “if you can’t say anything nice” rule if a book is so putrid or its author so obnoxious that it’s beyond considerate comment. I wish more Tweeters and other “raters/haters” would think about the impact of their words, especially nasty off-the-cuff comments. Twitter has become the “slam book” of new generation.

    • Hi Cyndi,

      Thanks so much for your comment and welcome to Limebird! I definitely agree with you here, some people really don’t consider what impact their words could have and I just don’t understand it. Of course as a writer, we do want to know if there are things that we could improve on, but of course there is always a nice way to phrase it. Beth

  8. I agree, I can’t believe how horrible some people are at times! If I hated a book then I wouldn’t review it, unless the author or publisher had given me a copy to read for free with the expectation that I would leave a review! In which case I would leave a fairly neutral one, maybe describing the story a bit in a factual way, if I did choose to say anything negative, then I’d be constructive about it. And however bad something is, you can always find something good to say! …speaking of which, Beth, this blog post you’ve written, I can see you’ve tried really hard and that’s great! I can also see that there are no spelling mistakes which is super! 😉

    I generally avoid reading reviews before I read a book because of the risk of spoilers! I might scan the star ratings to see if it is rated highly overall.

  9. I always try to be constructive if I don’t have much else to say. If I thought it was awful, I wouldn’t leave a review as I wouldn’t finish the book. I read one review who read ONE page and decided the genre was not to their taste so left a 1-star review. WHY?

    No excuse for being scathing. Well said.

    • Reading one page isn’t giving the book or author a chance; I’ll agree with that. But, there is a distinct difference from being honest and being nasty. If I push myself through a story and still don’t like it, my opinion is no less valid from any other reader’s. Now, one would hope I would be constructive and fair in my assessment or review, but simply because I didn’t like a story shouldn’t invalidate my opinion about it.

      • True. Like you say being constructive is valuable feedback. We aren’t going to like everything we read. It’s the nasty reviews that are not needed.

      • No, you’re definitely right Mayumi. But I can’t imagine you would read one page and then go out of your way to give the author a horrible review and one star?

    • Yeah so true Pete! Oh my gosh, I really don’t get that either. I was going to mention that in my post, but I forgot! That really does annoy me, what’s the point?!

  10. There are just those people who find the negative in anything! I would never post some scathing remark about a book. I don’t go online and post scathing remarks about anything, really. If you notice many people who post these kinds of things either do so anonymously or use a moniker. The internet, like anything can be a wonderful tool, connecting people, but with most things, there’s the flip side of it as well. There will always be those who feel the need to belittle and berate. I’ve never understood it! I so agree with you on this — just don’t post a comment if you can’t at least say something positive. Great post!

  11. I wonder what is gained by a negative reader and a mean-spirited one at that. Reading is subjective. End of story.
    Another disturbing habit I’ve heard about over the years is a reader who doesn’t finish a book because a) she / he doesn’t like the subject, b) doesn’t like a character, c) hasn’t bothered to finish the book AND gives the book ONE STAR.

    • I have no idea if I’m honest with you! Yes, I think someone else mentioned that a bit further up and I was going to mention it in my post, but I forgot. That practice really does frustrate me too, I don’t understand the point! If you haven’t read the whole book, I don’t understand how you can give it a review!

  12. Your point about the anonymity of the Internet hits the nail on the head, Beth. There is nothing brave – or constructive – about being catty. Unfortunately, the Internet troll feeds on such negativity. We could hash this out from a psychological perspective, but what it really comes down to, I think, is that it’s just so much easier to be cruel than kind, and to be that much more cruel without giving your real name.

  13. Awesome post Bethie! I don’t do a lot of reviews if I can help it. If it’s a book that I won or that an author gave me in exchange for a review, then I will. Otherwise, I tend to stay away from reviews mainly because they are soooo subjective. Just because I liked it or didn’t like it doesn’t mean anyone else will feel the same.

    Of course it’s easy to write a review if you liked the book. Totally different story if I got a book for free or an author specifically asked me for a review, and I didn’t like it. What do I do then? I still find something good about the story. I do believe that every story has something wonderful in it, and even if the book overall is poor, I write a review focusing on the aspect that I really liked.

    Like Mayumi, I also agree with your point about hiding behind the screen to deliver negative reviews. I would be willing to bet money that those nasty critics wouldn’t be able to say those same terrible things to the author’s face.

    • Thanks my love! Yeah exactly, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with giving a review that’s not favourable towards the book because we’re all entitled to an opinion, but the way that some people go about it is just ridiculous. I think you’re right and I’m sure the author will always appreciate constructive feedback, but there’s always a way of writing things that takes into consideration everyone else’s feelings.

      Yeah definitely, cowards the lotta them! 😛

  14. I tend to not give reviews, I seldom read them and we all know that it is too easy for someone to have a friend post a review saying how fantastic that book was… or trolls that just want to blast anyone they can, bla bla bla. Who knows if the reviews are real or not anymore? The part I read is what the author wrote on the jacket or the excerpt they provide. You can tell a LOT by those excerpts.

    • Who knows Neeks, you’re right! I do sometimes do reviews, but it’s normally when an author has sent me a book in return for an honest review, which I will provide. We’ve all got our ways of finding books to read! 🙂

  15. This post is so relevant. There’s a certain type of showing off that seems to occur, where the intent of the review is subservient to some apparent need to draw attention to the reviewer rather than the work. And of course i always wonder whether such scathing reviews are written by people who want to write but haven’t so take out their frustration on those who do.

    • Thanks Laurel! 🙂 Yes I think you’re right, and there probably is an element of jealously there. Who knows what goes through the minds of some of these people! Thanks for commenting!

  16. I tend to recommend books, not review them because I’d hate to read a horrible review of my book. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and no one is going to universally love one book but attacking the author is just plain wrong!

  17. The question I want to ask those who feel a need to write a HORRIBLE review is, ‘What is the purpose of the review?”. It certainly is not to help the author. If that is the case, then the reviewer needs to find something else to do with their time. If the purpose is to warn readers off from the book, it can be done with much less damage to the author’s feelings. It seems to me that the purpose falls into the realm of a power trip, like they enjoy it somehow. That is truly sad. I am currently writing a less than stellar review on a recent read. However, my criticism comes in the form of questioning the story structure. It’s not that it was a poorly written book, I just didn’t understand the handling of some areas of the story. I agree with most of the others above, giving a scathing review is just not something that I feel is necessary.

    • Hi Dennis,

      Yes, my point exactly. I have no idea what makes someone want to write such a nasty personal review, it makes no sense to me whatsoever! You could be right about the power trip thing, very peculiar.

      You see, that makes sense to me, if it’s something that the author could work on in the future, then I’m sure most of us would welcome it. Thanks for your comment!

  18. Well, I pretty much agree with what I have read so far. I think “kindness” might be the word to remember when writing a review. A reviewer is very different from being a Alpha or Beta reader. I hope that when I review a book I am encouraging other reader to find the book and make her own judgement. When I read as an Alpha or Beta prior to publication, I tend to be quite truthful about errors, poor transitions, grammar errors, unlikely plots etc.

    • Yes I definitely agree Sadie! It’s a very different viewpoint coming from a beta reader, or a reviewer. I would always expect my beta (or if I was a beta), that things like that would be pointed out. Thanks for commenting, and welcome to Limebird! Beth

  19. I totally agree…I don’t think there’s a place for scathing reviews…VERY bad form and bad karma. I can’t say I respect someone who does that. Clearly no empathy…

  20. I have a policy of only writing positive reviews that are 3-5 stars. As an author, I feel like it’s a conflict of interest to leave negative reviews. Plus I understand how hard writers work to get their books out there.

    I want readers to write an honest review, but I don’t understand why honest has come to mean tactless, rude and sometimes downright mean.

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