Saturday, 8 July 2017

The dangers of the honest reviewer

The eminent Lovecraftian scholar S. T. Joshi on his blog dated June 14th, 2017, mentions  complaints raged against a recent review he wrote on his blog and for Dead ReckoningsLink.

"It would appear that certain individuals were a tad put out by my review of The Children of Gla’aki, edited by Brian M. Sammons and Glynn Owen Barrass."

Please take a look at this entry to get full details of what occurred. 

This highlights a growing problem, probably exacerbated by social media, for anyone with the temerity to write an honest review.  It strikes me that too many writers today get on their high horse about any review that is anything other than unqualified praise. Not only do they make their displeasure known, but all too often their "fans" and sycophants will mercilessly turn against the unfortunate reviewer.

This is a ridiculous and self-destructive response. Not only, for any fair-minded observer, does this make these people look thin-skinned, self-delusional and pathetic, but it endangers the practice of writing any reviews at all other than unqualified praise, whether deserved or not.

Ask any writer and they will instantly admit that they want reviews. They clamour for them. They want them more than almost anything else. They'll give away free copies in the hope of getting them. Or the hope, let's be honest, of complete praise!

I have heard of reviewers being castigated for, not only giving negative reviews, but for merely failing to give the kind of praise the writer and his or her supporters expected from them.

It's a nasty tendency, one which stifles free speech and in the long run could destroy the ability of most reviewers to be honest.

So far I have never responded to a negative or less than flattering review. I hope I never do. I hope my reaction will continue to be to think, instead, upon what the reviewer has said and take a serious, objective and analytic look at what has been criticised, because, let's face it, the reviewer could be right - and by taking these criticisms under consideration, I could become a better writer. I have done this several times in the past and it's resulted, I hope, in me improving my writing. That's partly how we learn.

To those who can't take criticism, I would say grow up. If not that, then at least have the sense to leave reviewers alone or face the very real possibility you might put people off writing honest (and thereby worthwhile) reviews at all. Stop being online bullies and leave reviewers to get on with their task to write what, in their view, is an honest evaluation of what they have read.

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