Dear Internet Reviewers of a Certain Type

In light of yet another friend having received a link (this time via twitter) can I ask what it is that certain reviewers hope to achieve in linking an author to an execrable review of their work? What is it you are hoping will be the outcome of e-mailing an author (as I have been) or @ing them in a tweet (as several colleagues have been) or pinging their blog with links to your bad review?

Is it that you hope to influence us into changing the contents of the book? If so, too late, the book is written. Quite often it has been accepted by a publishing house; it has been edited by professionals; it is – as you poke and prod at its creator – being distributed by bookshops and placed on library shelves. Nothing you can do or say will influence its contents. It is there, forever, in the form you read it, regardless of what you do or say to the writer.

Is it that you hope to enlighten us as to your very special understanding of how next we may approach our craft, in the hopes that our next work might suit you better? If so, take a look around you – yours is a voice among many. Which voice should we listen to? Our five star reviewers? Our four star reviewers? Three? Two? One? Yours? Why? Because yours is the very very bestest very most correct one? Get over yourself. Any writer worth their salt does not create in order to please a committee. They create to express something important to them – something relevant to them. And they can only hope that out there in the sea of many potential readers someone somewhere will feel a resonance.

As a reviewer you get to examine your opinion on the book: to dissect the book, to disassemble it, to fill notebooks of pages on its social impact. You get to speak as loudly and as clearly from as many venues as you like, to as many other readers as possible, so that your opinion on the book might be heard by them – so that you might enlighten them, or be enlightened by their responses to you. You get to sit in your own corner of the internet grumbling quietly about having wasted your time on such trash.  Or, hell, you get to have fun filling a blog post with puking cat gifs to express how much you hated it. It’s up to you. That’s the joy and freedom and social power of reviewing other folks’ work. You get to shape opinions, you get to express opinions, you get to discuss opinions, you get to play with puking cat gifs.

But there can be no purpose whatsoever in linking those puking cats or pages of dissertation to the writer. The writer is gone. They’ve moved on. They are probably already two books down the line. Your attempt to draw them into commenting on your opinion piece can only be seen as an attempt to troll for internet author meltdown.

Cut it out.

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3 Responses to Dear Internet Reviewers of a Certain Type

  1. Kate Curtis says:

    On the upside, you got to see a puking cat gif. Great post.

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