Tuesday Talk: Rotten Reviewers and other bad eggs...

We've  all had them, those rude, abusive or downright nasty 'reviews' left on Amazon or Goodreads or similar sites. Amazon is usually the worst, though. What is it that attracts downright rudeness when it comes to the nasty power of trashing a good author and a good book for no apparent reason beyond outright spite?
An author's view of the rude reviews?
Amazon is particularly annoying as there is very little you can do about these thoroughly nasty tirades. Don't get me wrong, if a reader doesn't like a book (be it mine or someone else's) that's fine - it would be a boring world if we all liked the same things, and everyone is entitled to an opinion, BUT, there is a big difference between leaving a comment like 'Sorry, not my cup of tea,' or even 'I didn't think much of the writing style. In my opinion there were too many point of view changes and the narrative didn't quite flow.' OK a bit disappointing, but if that's this reader's thoughts, then fair enough. They didn't like the book and gave a personal reason why.

Those 1 star 'this book was a load of rubbish' with no reason for the opinion given, or '1 star because the cover was torn when the book arrived' are just plain irritating and stupid. Trashing a book for spiteful reasons are just straightforward trolling. Deliberate nastiness. Best way to handle them?Completely ignore. To answer back is what they want, they want to know they've got you riled.

One rule here:



And what about the plain silly? 'This book was too full of battles, I don't like battles' when even the title suggests that's what it is about. What part of 1066 The Battle of Hastings does this reader not grasp? 

What bit of 'The BATTLE of Hastings
do you not understand
?
Unfortunately, crass comments are something authors have to live with - we soon learn to develop a thick skin and learn about anger management.


However, what about the deliberately misleading? The deliberate setting out to falsely trash a book and author for means of personal gain by the  'reviewer'?

I came across a recent spate of unpleasant reviews on Amazon aimed specifically at indie authors.
Said 'reviewer' let's call him Typo Tutor, gets hold of the e-edition of a novel, or even an Advanced Review Copy (ARC) which is an uncorrected pre-publication edition. He runs it through his proof reading software and comes up with a few missed typos. He then sends an email to the author and publishing company (if one was used) along the lines of  'I noticed several errors and typos in your book. I would be delighted to offer you my services to correct these.'

Now doesn't that sound like touting for business to you? (It does to me too, but apparently not to Amazon.) Naturally anyone on-the-ball receiving this sort of email will hit the delete button. Its SPAM. So no reply is sent, the email is deleted, sender probably blocked or sent to junk mail (if it didn't end up there in the first place.)

Then a Facebook and Twitter friend request pops up. 'I'm Typo Tutor: let me help you with those typos in your book!'  Again, the delete and block buttons are used. 

A few days later up comes a comment on Amazon: 'This book is littered with typos. Poor quality, not recommended.'

In fact, said book is well written, very good quality and has only the occasional typo. But the damage is done - unless you know what to look for.

Hmm, this 'review' sounds fishy. Let's check Typo Tutor's profile - oh what a surprise, this is an editing service business! And looking further at the reviews posted by this 'reviewer'  we find that post after post reads exactly, or very nearly the same! Yes, Typo Tutor is blatantly touting for business, and, miffed with authors who block him leaves snide comments. 

But wait! There's more! Typo Tutor has left some five star reviews! 'Excellent book, perfectly presented' blah blah...  Three guesses who did the editing for these titles!

Moral: if you come across 1 star comments by someone with variations on a theme of Typo Tutor, Easy Editor, Proofing Passion, or whatever, do not respond, do not leave an indignant comment 



but DO  leave a positive review for the author and DO complain to Amazon via the 'report' button. Trashing someone's excellent book in order to promote a business venture is not  acceptable!

And as for the cowboy 'editors' who are reading this with blustering indignation because they think I am referring to them personally: well 'if the cap fits wear it'. Right?



31 comments:

  1. Totally agree, Helen! Those of us who write reviews usually try and offer some encouragement if the book/author has promise that is not quite fulfilled in a particular title. criricism may be necessary, but it should always be Constructive criticism. fgor any authors who may have suffered from this type of trolling would do well to take heart from the positive reviews that are posted: I have also seen such a review as you mention where this person gave a one star review, but four others gave 5 stars and two theres 4 stars!

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    1. thanks Richard - what a shame more people cannot follow your excellent skill of reviewing!

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  2. Superb Helen. Well said. And yes...never, EVER, feed a Troll. Sad little individuals.

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    1. I would like to know where the 'trolls' find the time to do their trolling!

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    2. They have nothing else in their life...if you can call it that. Laughable individuals.

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    3. "They have nothing else in their life...if you can call it that. Laughable individuals" = now *that* is the true language of the troll

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  3. I was tempted to comment, 'dreadful article littered with typos' and offer you my editing services, but I have an instinct that you wouldn't take me up on my kind offer...
    I've also noticed that the people who write terrible reviews on Goodreads usually also add you to a whole host of 'shelves' - did-not-finish couldn't-pay-me-to-read-it-again etc. This is just downright nasty, and as soon as I see those reviews, for either my books or anyone else's, I just disregard them completely. They might as well have 'troll' tattooed on their foreheads. But they can be very hurtful to first time authors particularly. Ignoring them is the only way to go - responding makes it appear that you can't take criticism, and draws attention to the review, which is the last thing you want.
    Oh, and by the way, this is an excellent article, and I didn't see any typos....

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    1. Just as well you can't throw things at people on the internet *laugh*! These sort of nasty reviews - that have no grounds for authenticity - are just as hurtful for established authors, especially those of us who are Indie. Having said that, there are typos and errors in my US (traditional published) novels, but there's nothing I can do about those. One review for my latest non-fiction also mentions several typos - but the entire review is one of praise and its only mentioned as constructive criticism, although I've discovered that the reviewer had been sent an uncorrected proof. Typos happen, inevitably, no matter how many times you check, but one or two obvious errors are acceptable, alluding to non-existent dozens, however is below the belt.
      Incidentally I do make errors, especially when writing this sort of reply because I have failing sight and it isn't always easy to pick up things.
      I had to laugh when looking at the website for one of these 'Proof Tutor' people who are targetting authors... now, shall I email them and suggest they hire me as a proof reader to point out the typos I spotted in their spiel? :-) *grin*

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    2. I know. I've got reviews from people who gave my books 2* then said it was very good but good Christians would never blaspheme as my characters do. I have the odd 'Jesus!' in there. They have clearly not been raised as Scottish Roman Catholics. The same with someone who trashed my first book and then admitted they hadn't read past Chapter 2. These reviews are really not worth getting upset about. They're just petty.
      Incidentally, that's why I loved the first sentence of your review of my first book - that told 'em!!

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    3. I had a lot of that for my Arthurian trilogy, so many (apologies but usually American) readers look on him as a Christian king, so how dare I make him do non-Christian things? (completely ignoring the fact that my trilogy is set 450AD) I even get the same about my pirate - I mean come on, he's a PIRATE! LOL. Sorry 'good Christians' but 'good' does not interpret into 'narrow minded.'

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    4. "the typos I spotted in their spiel" - oh that's shocking, how hypocritical!

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    5. Not hypocritical or sarcastic at all. Apart from the fact that I have made no secret of the fact that I am visually impaired so I do often miss errors on my blog, in emails etc., I am not an editor, be it technical, copy or proof editor, whereas to find typographical or messy layout errors on a website advertising editorial services (of any kind but particularly copy editing or proof reading) does not give a very good impression of the service offered does it?

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    6. Not hypocritical of you - but of these Terrible Typists people!

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    7. I read online at least 12 surf moons ago that the main guy thinks he is some 17th-century outlaw - pirate even - ruling the whole damn roost, who likes to quote Steve Jobs along the lines of 'Why join the Navy when you can be a pirate?' blah blah and goes around dressed in a huge black hat and avec chien (not on lead, ahem ahem) and a beard that is rumoured to contain secrets of several rodents' genealogy. Who want to mess with him? Ooh I would.

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    8. Let's see if the ******* *** ***** *** picks up that typo!

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    9. "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" (Evelyn Beatrice Hall)

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  4. I attempt to write fair reviews and would never trash a book that I failed to finish, especially if the blurb made it clear what I was choosing to read. In fact, I take time to check the opening pages and reviewers that I follow. Relieved that I gave 1066 a good review, but that was an easy decision.

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    1. Thank you Roland - I don't think asny author would object to constructive and fair criticism. It is annoying when you get downright silly comments though, but then serious readers can see that these are silly so they don't do any damage. Trashing a book because an author has turned down an unsolicited (spam) business proposition to edit a book however, is a different matter entirely.

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  5. Excellent blog post, Helen - thank you. I once had a poor review on Amazon because "Amazon asks for reviews too soon - I haven't even read this book"!

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    1. Oh my! (sorry fits of laughter here) seriously???? Good grief! Read my reply to Roland (above) about 'silly comments'!

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  6. What's truly depressing here is that it isn't even your "standard" troll. It is an individual who purportedly is there to HELP authors who is doing this, just to tote their services. A professional troll, if you will, making the person in question even more despicable.

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    1. precisely Anna: offers to 'help' than trashes when the offer is declined.

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  7. Sometimes it really doesn't feel safe out there in the big wide Amazon. I had a 1 star review that said my book was a Saxon Mills and Boone. Mind you it made me laugh out loud if nothing else. If the few romantic bits in my books are as raunchy as Mills and Boone then things have changed ! Lol. Good article Helen

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    1. well given how popular M&B are you're obviously onto a winner! LOL

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  8. "The eyes see only what the mind is prepared to comprehend." (Robertson Davies)

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    1. Very true, which is why EDITING by professionals with editorial qualifications for a full technical edit and then a copy edit is so very important, sadly most indie writers think that only a minor copy edit and a proof read to pick up the typos is sufficient. Neither of these pick up on the technical essentials for producing a readable novel i.e structure, continuity, POV, too much dialogue (or too little) too much fact - or too little etc. Sadly also, too many rely on software to catch the errors, which is not a good substitute for the human brain, though I grant it is for the eye.

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    2. The human brain and software is the best way ;-)

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    1. Especially when said reviewer thinks he/she can write better than an established writer :-)

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