Tag Archives: fear

Why Readers Don’t Leave Reviews

 Original article.

Review Header

Authors spend months (years) crafting a tale, editing and polishing, finding an agent and/or publisher, learning self-publishing options and formatting, dealing with cover art, blurbs, marketing, book tours, interviews … all that before their book is even published. Once their work is out there, authors are vulnerable to critique, rejection, or worse – indifference. After such dedicated bravery, it’s no surprise the biggest complaint I hear from authors is that readers don’t leave a review even when they like the book.

Readers value reviews as a means of gaining insight into the story before spending hard-earned money on a book. Some authors look to their reviews for validation that their hard work has paid off. Others for feedback to help them hone their writing skills. So, what’s the deal? Why don’t readers leave a review?

 

The Fear Factor

Lack of time or skill to write a review top the list of excuses. But, there is something much more visceral keeping people from leaving reviews: Fear.

What if you didn’t like the story? Or, you liked it, but not enough to give a 4 or 5 star rating? Besides not wanting to hurt or discourage the author, leaving an honest review (even a positive one) can have damaging repercussions.

People can be rude to reviewers who leave a positive review, but
they’re downright abusive if you dare leave a “critical” review (3 star or lower),
no matter how thoughtful and even-handed it is.

When you leave positive reviews, there’s speculation you’re fluffing the ratings either to make your pals look good or to have the favour returned. When you give negative reviews, you’re obviously a no-talent hack taking out your frustrations on others.

“... she was lashing out because of her own inability to sell books or perhaps write.”

Leaving a less-than-stellar review can damage or end relationships with other authors. Sometimes, it’s a simple unfriending on Facebook. Other times, it’s an ugly public “breakup” … and I mean U-G-L-Y.

 

Public Humiliation and Attack

We’re all adults, right? Professionals who understand not everyone will agree … right? Then, why do so many people mutate into schoolyard bullies when they read a critical review?

In 2014, I made an acquaintance on Facebook via our mutual interest in ancient North American civilizations. He’d written a YA Sci-Fi and the description sounded interesting enough that I bought the ebook. It started out okay, but the more I read, the more upset I got. As a reader and author, I was deeply offended by the sub-standard quality of the writing and complete lack of editing.

It looked like a first draft of a hastily dictated story.

I took 3 days to calm down and another 3 days to write my review. Even though I was giving it a 1-star rating, I was determined to be even-handed and include what the author did well.

The day after I posted my review, I discovered several hostile public posts by the author splashed across multiple social media platforms.

“... she could have at least sent me a message ... warn me of the horrid little review ... I certainly do not wish to be a friend or follower of someone who hates my writing so bad that she would give a $1.99 novel a 1-star ...”a 1-star ...”

(Note: Yes, he actually believed being an indie author and offering his book for a “cheap” price was a valid excuse for lack of quality.)

Things quickly degenerated as he and his friends swung into a full-on public bashing session: name calling, speculation about my writing skills, and insults about my physical appearance.

" ...mook-jabroni ... a-hole ... low rent jobber ... bristles instead of back hair ..."

 

Retaliation

Besides public attacks, I’ve faced other forms of retaliation over the years:

  • rude comments on my blog and Facebook Fan Page;
  • hack attacks on my websites;
  • creepy emails and private messages; and
  • vicious comments left on reviews I’ve written, like this one on a “classic” written by a long-dead author:

"You only read trash, no wonder you wouldn't understand good literature if it hit on the face! Oh,my God: I just realized you actually WRITE books!!! God have mercy on us ..."

 

  • I get called “wishy-washy” when I outline the positives in a book I don’t like.
  • I’m “apologetic” when I point out aspects others may appreciate about a book I’ve rated poorly.
  • I’m “confusing” and shouldn’t post reviews, because I give a positive rating to a book I don’t like, but feel was well done and would be enjoyed by others.

 

Who needs that abuse and stress? It’s not like writing reviews is benefiting me in any way.

 

Time and Money

Here’s a secret authors may not know:

Writing book reviews to post on sites like Amazon, Smashwords, and GoodReads
is a losing prospect for the reviewer.

It takes hours to write a thoughtful review. And, that’s after you’ve spent several days reading the book in the first place. You need to:

  • organize what worked and didn’t work;
  • touch on points that may interest other readers;
  • and write it in a way that is fair and intelligent.

Then, you need to edit and polish your review so it doesn’t read like a 4th grader wrote it. Any errors will immediately invalidate everything you’ve written and subject you to more public ridicule.

As a freelance writer, I charge between $25 and $75 for content that requires the same amount of time and effort put into the reviews I write. But, I’m not being paid to write reviews and that time could be better served working on my own novels (as my husband frequently points out).

Reviewing books is a “hobby” that costs me time and money. Unlike a hobby, though I can’t recoup losses by selling my products on Esty.

 

Loss

Speaking of loss, it’s hard to be honest about not liking an author’s work when you share the same social circles with them. If they take the review personally, there’s the serious possibility you’ll not only lose the author as a contact, but also their associates.

Mutual friends may shy away from you, either out of loyalty to the author or concern that you’ll give them a bad review also. Even if you don’t know the author, posting an unpopular review can make you an outcast and cost valuable contacts you rely on for networking; people who could help you advance by buying, reading, reviewing, and even promoting your books.

 

Just another “Stinky Butthole”

In the end, a review is just someone’s opinion. And as the adage goes, “Opinions are like buttholes. We all have one and we all think everyone else’s stink.”

As much as I want my reviews to make a meaningful impact, the harsh truth is they’re often another number that either bolsters someone’s rating or drags it down. The number of times my reviews are voted “unhelpful” (even 4 and 5 star reviews) is higher than the times they’re voted “helpful”.

Based on my personal experience, is it any wonder why readers don’t want to leave reviews? While I try not to take it personally, it’s frustrating. In fact, I nearly gave up writing reviews several times … but then, I get a “thank you” note from an author, a public mention, and even requests from someone who read one of my critical reviews and wants an honest opinion of their work. My reviews may not matter to everyone, but every now and then, they have meaning to the right someone.

"Your review is so awesome! I'm humbled and honored!"

 


 

This article has been featured writing sites, like The Phoenix Quill and The intangible world of the literary mind!!

“Rules for Dating My Daughter” Memes …

Someone recently told me that this is the Year of the Offense. Everyone seems to be offended by every little thing going on around them, which is of course amplified by the media highlighting the most ridiculous and inane things to stir the pot. This includes some bloggers. So, guess what the big offender is now?  Well, the title should give you a clue, but you can humour me by making a few wrong guesses …

Okay, okay.  It’s those “dating my daughter” memes like this one:

dating-my-daughter-funny

For some idiotic reason, folks are missing the point that these memes are jokes; exaggerated caricatures of fathers wanting to protect inexperienced teenage girls who are (generally speaking) wrapped up in romantic ideals and fairy-tale notions.

In fact, one daddy blogger stated that these demeaning memes show that men don’t trust their daughters, have no confidence in them, and think their daughters are “weak and feeble creatures” (that’s a direct quote).  From his comments about over-bearing fathers bullying, intimidating future friends and dates, and his obnoxious choice to post this topic under the category of “bad parenting”, it’s obvious that he’s confused the satirical portrayal of fathers in movies and television with real life. As the rest of us know; very few people actually behave the way these memes portray. That my father greeted a young man at the door with a shot gun in hand was just poor timing and reinforcement that you should always call ahead before showing up at someone’s house (… that’s also an attempt at humour.)

For that daddy blogger and any others who struggle with this topic, here are some points to consider:

jmok1

 

1) When Dad screened potential dates, met them at the door, spoke to them on the phone, and/or “put the fear of God” in them, I never felt like he didn’t trust me. Know why? Because, *MY* behaviour wasn’t what he was worried about.

Dad trusted me to do the right thing, and then he empowered me to be able to make good choices by teaching me what to say, what options I had in certain situations, and if all else failed, where to strike if I needed to. He did that so I would never feel or be defenseless just because I was on my own.

Nor did I feel “owned” or like property by the fact that his primal instincts were to protect his offspring. I find the above mentioned daddy blogger’s suggestion of that ridiculous and, dare I say – offensive.

 

delicate

 

2) At no time did Dad’s (over)protective behaviour give the impression or make me feel like I was a helpless little thing that would collapse in a fit of vapours in a crunch. Instead, I feel important, precious, and worth protecting.  I also felt confident that Dad had my back if things ever went sideways. He taught me that family takes care of each other; I could count on him to step up if I got into a situation I couldn’t handle on my own as an inexperienced teenager.

 

Cartoon by Mark Parisi
Cartoon by Mark Parisi

 

3) My old-world Italian father was pretty blunt about men and dating, but he didn’t teach me to “fear” men by being (over)protective. You know who did?  Men (and boys) who didn’t respect me; mentally, emotionally, or physically. Those assholes really drove home everything Dad was trying to tell me about why he was so worried  and why he felt the need to teach me how to slam a fist into a man’s throat.

 

You know why fathers do and say these things? It’s not that they don’t trust their daughters or think they’re “weak and feeble creatures”.

 

 

Fathers act in a way to protect their daughters in dating situations, because they’re men and they’ve “been there”

 

To paraphrase Dad:

Not all parents raise their kids to know and do what’s right. Even those kids who are raised properly make mistakes. It’s a parent’s job to make sure everyone is on the same page – that there’s a mutual understanding and respect.  And, if there’s a lapse in respect, there is a knowledge that there will be consequences – obviously not Liam Neeson style, but real solid consequences to their actions.

Despite the “caveman instinct” to protect our young, these memes, and the “tough-guy” mentality that some people are sneering at, isn’t about feminism, sexism, lack of trust in our children, or “bad parenting”. It’s about teaching our daughters (and their potential suitors) that “Even when you’re by yourself, you’re never on your own.”

 


 

Throwback Thursday: Healing

We all have pain in our past that sometimes resurfaces to knock the wind out of our sails. Even if we think we’ve healed and moved on, the boogieman from the past can still catch us off-guard. This week marked the start of the 11th anniversary of a 5 week traumatic event that altered my life. Most years, I can get through it with just a passing nod to that event. This year, it’s gripped me in its claws and torn me open again.

Healing is Like the Tide | I Am Rosa

I didn’t know why until I took a few minutes to really look at the memories and emotion that were gnawing on me. I realized that something new had surfaced and it needed dealing with. A new hurt that had been shuffled to the back of priority list, mostly because it was so much deeper than the mental and physical torture I endured. It was an emotional hurt – a betrayal by a loved one. And, it took 11 years for me to be ready – mentally, emotionally, and spiritually – to face the eviscerating agony of knowing someone I loved and trusted put me in the situation that led to the horrifying events that nearly broke me.

Being able to acknowledge that fact, forgive them, and let go of them and the harm they caused … well, that wasn’t something I could do until recently. So, I hid it away until it landed in my lap like jetsam strewn across a beach.

Today’s Throwback Thursday is for everyone who still “bleeds” once in a while from the horrors that haunt you:

Healing is like the tide.
Issues get washed ashore in small waves,
so we don’t drown in a tidal wave
of pain and sorrow.

Know that you’re not alone and you will not drown in the depths of your past. You survived, walked away, and flourished. Face those memories and emotions when they wash over you and heal what the tide brought forth. Don’t be afraid of them. They’re indicators that you’re ready to take another step away from your past and into your glorious future. Each application of love you apply to those wounds makes you stronger and helps you shine brighter for the people around you who are still suffering ~*~

I Thought about Quitting …

I’ve seen a few status updates today talking about Suicide Prevention and I know a few people on my social media lists are struggling with depression. I want to share something, because I’ve lost too many loved ones … and I was almost lost myself.

(Warning: Strong language)

quitting - title | I Am Rosa

About 15 years ago, I was living in Toronto on the 5th floor of an apartment building. I’d been broke, homeless, and hungry so often during the previous 8 years that it seemed like those things were the fabric of the marriage I was in at the time. I didn’t know how long I was going to have a roof over my head this time and, I was recovering from a near-death illness that made it impossible for me to even think about getting a job. I was scared all the time. I was angry and frustrated … and …

I didn’t know it at the time, but I was depressed. I didn’t know it when I gave away the things I loved and valued. Precious things from my childhood. Beloved things I had carefully saved up for – not expensive or grand items; books, a pretty blouse … things that made me feel happy.

It didn’t dawn on me that I could possibly be depressed, because I was always the up-beat, positive, forward-moving one that people looked to when they needed to be lifted up. There was always hope! Tomorrow was a better day waiting to pounce on us!

I had no idea I was depressed until I opened the bedroom window one afternoon, pulled the screen off, and hoisted myself over the sill. Hanging half-in and half-out of the window, I looked down at the pavement below trying to decide if 5 stories was high enough to kill me. I figured if I went feet first, I might just end up breaking a lot of bones, but if I went out the window headfirst …

That thought didn’t scare me. Not a bit. I didn’t think about how anyone would miss me or what would happen to them afterward.  Except, I did wonder one thing: What would *I* do after I was dead? Believing that I am an eternal being meant that death wouldn’t end the pain I was in. I would take that shit with me into the next realm and probably into the next life. I couldn’t stomach the idea of dragging my pain any further – infecting my eternal life with a temporary torment.

I climbed back into the bedroom, sat on the bed, and cried. Then, I went hunting. I tracked down the things that were making me unhappy. I dug to the roots of the pain, took names and notes, and when I could, I began eliminating those things.

See, I had something call “Situational Depression“. Change the situation that’s causing the depression and it goes away.  I dug deep and turned to face the enemy that put me so low in order to attack those hateful things instead of myself … I knew I had to share with those who are struggling right now. I desperately need to tell you this:

“Thought about quitting, then I noticed who was watching.”

“Thought about quitting, then I noticed who was watching”

GET THE FUCK UP!! FIND YOUR ENEMY AND FIGHT, DAMN IT! I love you and you have no clue who needs you! Find your enemy; situation, environment, chemical imbalance, whatever it is – hunt it down and FUCKING “KILL” IT! Remove it from your life with extreme prejudice like you’re a fucking sniper with no mercy.

sniper

You are the Light the others (including me) rely on when seeking an escape from their own Darkness .

Fight the Darkness Without Mercy. Lay your head down to rest. Then, get the fuck up, and fight some more.

You and me: We’re going to win this fight together!

glitter heart | I Am Rosa


 

It’s Just a Kiss … Really?

There’s been a lot of controversy about the situation in Pikesville, Maryland where a tween boy grabbed and kissed a girl on a dare.  Why is everyone making such a big deal about a 13 year old boy kissing another 8th grader?  Is filing sexual assault charges too harsh of a response??  In a word:  No.

 

 

I’ve been that kid  kissed by a boy who was dared to do it.  It was terrifying to be held down and have someone force a kiss on me. I was told by adults that I was making a big deal out of nothing. This was in first grade. It was the first of many similar incidents that was permitted to happen to me and they never stopped being terrifying.

When I was grabbed and French-kissed against my will a few years later, I was told, “He doesn’t understand what he’s doing”.

When I was cat-called, followed, groped, and grabbed, I was told, “He’s just showing you that he likes you.”

When I was stalked and a dude snuck into the house to watch me, “He’s just being friendly. He comes over all the time.”

He just wants to show how much he likes you …. It’s not a big dealIt’s just a jokeYou’re over-reacting

These dismissals and the reactions I got from others told me I should welcome this behaviour and, moreover, I should be FLATTERED. How ungrateful of me to complain or report this “normal boy behaviour”.  And, when I snapped and retaliated against one of these boys, *I* was the problem. There was something wrong with *ME* for being upset.

Sex gets equated to care and love. “If you really love him, you’d put out” “If you don’t give him what he wants, he’ll find someone who does and you’ll be all alone.” These are things that were actually said to me by adults.

Where does it end for a girl taught that this is “normal”? Or, the boy who is given permission by society to take liberties?  Let me share an incident from my past with you …

 

vintage-children-drawing | I Am Rosa

Games can get out of control, especially when it comes to “dares”. When I was in cadets, we took a trip to England. During our travels, we were left without adult supervision. You’d think a bunch of teens could behave themselves for an hour or so, right?  Apparently not.  See, someone suggested a game. “Truth or Dare” to be exact. I wasn’t into it, so I curled up in a corner and had a nap.  When I woke up, I could tell something was wrong.  There was a strain.  A darkness that hung over everyone’s heads.  No one could look each other in the eye.  The camaraderie was gone. “Why?” I asked. “What happened?”  A game happened.  A stupid dare.

See, there had been some flirting between one of the guys and a female cadet.  One of his friends dared him to have sex with her. Right there. In front of everyone to prove it happened. They were pressured by the group – their “friends” – and the stakes of the game. He felt like he had to in order to save face and the others pressured this young girl … Remember we were all about 15 at the time.

To this day, I wish I hadn’t fallen asleep. I was always the voice of morals and conscious (which usually meant I got ditched). I would have said something.  I would have ratted them out before it happened.  I could have stopped them somehow – some way … But, I was napping and no one else spoke up. So, right there on a boat these 2 terrified teens were pressured into having sex, surrounded by strangers and supposed friends. It destroyed them.kiss | I Am RosaDebate all you want about whether or not this young man should face criminal charges, but understand this: It’s not about a kiss. It’s about a social mindset that’s dangerous and wrong.