It’s probably no secret to constant readers that my reviewing has dropped off a lot in the last year or so. My ennui with writing m/m has coincided with reading in the genre (though I can still be genuinely excited when a classy work of real talent turns up).
Nonetheless some foolhardy authors still send requests for review. Most of them I ignore because the summary (often using ‘ incest, rape, and torture’ as a selling point!) seems unappealing (and when I pass them to my co-reviewer, she’s often uninterested in them for the same reasons). Some I look at and then decide not to bother with. So my ‘did not reviews’ fall into two categories:
(a) Didn’t even open
(b) Open, decided life was too short
Of the ones I didn’t even look at which didn’t have a summary that turned me off, I decided against:
- A book by a well regarded m/m author who has a history of going attack dog on readers. I don’t care how good you are, or how popular your books, if you attack readers for simply having opinions you don’t approve of (and worse still, delete the evidence to try and preserve your ‘nice’ reputation), then you’re dead to me.
- A review request which is generic, and doesn’t even open with a salutation. Instead it opened with a strapline for the book, and then followed two pages of overdetailed summary. Oh, and in advance of release, without a copy of the book. Rude and too much effort.
The “Did not finish/did not reviews” were not bad for the usual reasons self-pubbed books are, in that spelling and grammar were up to adequate standards. They were bad because they were:
- very, very dull and pretentious (if I’m up to page 20 and nothing has happened except a load of waffle, then I just can’t be arsed to keep going – of course this one has heap of 5-starred positive reviews on Amazon. Of course.)
- just nasty and brutal (yeah, okay, I’ve written some brutal shit too so I’m not judging but there was nothing there to engage any emotion except disgust, and I’m just not into that now.)
- a medically based story that was simply medically ridiculous (as well as told in a style I found naive, to say the very least)
Normally I don’t bother writing back to tell people I’m not going to review – I’ve been burned before – but in the case of the last one, I thought I would, because I thought the author might have potential if they had a good editor or critique partner.
Of course this was a mistake. Because of course authors are still mostly insane wankers who think they are utter geniuses, and can’t be told they need help. This little flower said he had based his story on a friend’s medical adventures (yeah, but sorry, you still need to do your damn research yourself!) and thanked me by saying “You’re popped my ‘bad review’ cherry”.
First up, I didn’t review your book so your ‘cherry’ remains unpopped (eeuuw). Second, if you haven’t had a ‘bad’ review (by which I presume he means ‘negative’ and not something like this), then you’re either not written much at all, or people aren’t interested enough in your work to read it. Negative reviews are a sign that people are interested, even if they don’t like the result. So it’s not something to boast about, even backhandedly.
And thirdly, my ‘review’ (ie my polite and kindly meant email) offered constructive advice and was in no way a proper critique. Your medically stupid novel remains unreviewed by me, and will probably remain unreviewed by anyone with a brain, because you don’t understand that research and credibility are cornerstones of the craft (yes, even in a fantasy).
“Your book needs serious editing” is advice from a thoughtful author that any thoughtful author should take to heart. I don’t have time to waste reading books by anyone who isn’t thoughtful.
So, my dears, if you write to me and ask for a review, be polite, don’t wear out your welcome, at least attach a sample or give me a link, but preferably attach the book, and if I don’t review your book and you don’t know why, the above may be the reason.
However, I think I might be mentally better prepared to review more less than excellent books in the future. Scarlett Parish and Jenny Trout have given me encouragement on that score. And to my fellow, much more successful than moi authors I say, try writing critical reviews even of your friends. They’ll benefit from increased attention, and so will readers from the thoughtful comments.