February 21st, 2011
You know what I’m talking about. Sure, some of them are funny (Uranium Ore, AudioQuest K2 Cables, JL421 Badonkadonk Land Cruiser/Tank) but some of them are misleading. I’m not going to suggest it is intentional or even wanted, but it happens. When you get a following, those followers can can be a bit blinded. They seem to think you can do no wrong. Now, my followers aren’t like this. I get regular emails from people correcting me and thinking I’m an idiot. But others seem to have fans the border on the rabid. Case in point – Dean Koontz.
On a whim a year or so ago, I picked up Odd Thomas at my local bookstore. Between the cover and the back copy, I thought it sounded interesting. I can honestly say it is one of the only mass market books that I had to force myself to finish. I thought it was absolute rubbish. In fact, if you look at the one star reviews, particularly the one by R.H. Oakley, they pretty much sum up my thoughts. But the book has over 500 reviews at this writing and over 400 of them are 4 and 5 stars. So how can that be?
Well, obviously some people genuinely liked it. They would like it even if it wasn’t written by Koontz. But I think that the vast majority liked it simply because they are fans. And while it is fine to like and follow a person, those reviews are misleading. Not purposefully, of course, but they are. I can be a fan of someone without losing all perspective.
That’s a problem I’m finding with some of the indie authors. I’m all about supporting my fellow writers but not to the point that I’ll ignore problems just to help them sell books. I’m not going to point out specific examples but I’m sure you can find some easily enough. What you’ll see is a bunch of 5 star reviews that sound like marketing copy paired with a bunch of 1 or 2 star reviews from bitter, “tricked” buyers. This is not the way to operate people.
Unsolicited, I’m not going to post here or anywhere else less than 3 star reviews. I sort of just made that decision. Frankly, there is enough negativity in the world. Now, if you ask for a review, all bets are off. But if I download your free book, I’m going to try and hold my tongue unless your legion of fans start tricking people. Because that isn’t doing anyone any good.
I may have a small following from Audioholics and AV Rant but they tend to be a bit more critical and pragmatic. But to any that feel like they may be helping by writing an overly glowing review – don’t. I don’t mind bad reviews. Sure, I love good ones (and my reviews on Smashwords have been, well, smashing) but I’d rather a bad review than an untruthful one. Feel free to tell the truth – good, bad, or other. I’m going to put the best product I can out there for you and if you think you can make it better by making a suggestion, do so. I’m always willing to listen.
I may ignore your advice, but I’ll listen.
My last point is that feedback, especially on a creative project, often needs to be repetitive before it is actually heard. If I hear something from someone I really respect, I may listen the first time. If the advice rings true when I read it, and you’d be surprised how often that happens, I’ll listen. But if it is from a random person on the Internet, having a chorus helps. So don’t assume that someone has already said it. I probably need to hear it again. So bring it on.