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Five Ridiculous Criticisms Authors Hate To See In Book Reviews

I wish I could say that authors don’t read our reviews, but we do. Like, every single day. Multiple times a day even. And we take every last word to heart, whether we want to or not. We don’t, for a second, think that we’re the greatest writer to have ever lived, quite the opposite, in fact. And for every five reviews that tell us we’re amazing, it will be the one negative one that stands out in our minds. We get it. We’re not the best, and even when we do something that’s pretty good, it’s not going to be for everyone. But sometimes we get reviews that leave us scratching our heads, wondering what exactly the reviewer was thinking when they wrote what they wrote. Reviews range from the bitchy to the brutal to the bloody bizarre. Here’s what we’re up against…

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Character criticism

If there’s one thing we’ll read time and time again, it’s that our characters are not perfect people. Sometimes people will complain that characters are annoying. Sometimes people will say that our characters are flawed. Sometimes people will get annoyed that our characters don’t make the best choices. Guess what? We actually spent ages thinking, planning and writing our characters that way. People aren’t perfect, so why would our characters be? Do you know why they’re selfish at the beginning? So that we can grow that character into a better person. Do you know why they make bad decisions? Because we all make bad decisions, and also, because if all of our characters were perfect people who made perfect choices, guess what? We’d have no book – or a very short, unrealistic one at the least.

Didn't read

You won’t believe how often we get one-star reviews because people didn’t read our books. Whether it’s because they changed their minds, left it on the train or suddenly forgot how to read – for some reason people think they have to review our books, even if they didn’t read them. And obviously, because they don’t know anything about it, all they can do is give it one sad little star.

Reviewing an entirely different book

Sometimes we get negative reviews and, as we read them, we realise they’re talking about a completely different book. We’re just miserably taking the criticism on the chin, and then they mention the werewolf love arc and we’re like, hang on a sec, that’s not my book they’re talking about. People seem to get confused about which book they’re reading and slaughter someone else’s book… but we get the one-star rating.

The stars don't match the review

It’s a very confusing thing, to read someone speak so warmly about your book, gushing about how much they loved it, only for them to give it two stars. It’s fine for people to think it worthy of only two stars, but when they say how much they love it, it’s really confusing that their love only translates to two stars. If you give two stars to a book that you love, what’s an author got to do to get the other three stars out of you?

It's REALLY mean

It is a reviewers right not to like a book, one hundred per cent. You can say that you didn’t like it, you can give reasons why and you can seal the deal with one star – but there’s no need to be mean. There’s no need to make it personal either. Reviewers will mention the author by name, calling them out on what they wrote in relation to who they are as a person. Some reviewers will just be so unnecessarily harsh. We get it, you didn’t like our book, but you can say it in a way that doesn’t involve making a cruel pun on the title (like ‘The Shite-ning’ instead of ‘The Shining’ for example) or saying things like ‘this book sucked so much I wanted to set it on fire and hit myself in the face with a brick until I forgot how to read. I hope this author’s hands fall off so they can never write a book again’. If a friend is wearing an outfit that doesn’t compliment her figure, I tell her in a polite and tactful way – if at all – I don’t say ‘come on, you fat bitch, what the fuck were you thinking? Probably never leave the house again’. There really is no need to be mean.

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