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  • Writer's pictureT.R. Slauf

An Open Letter to Authors & Reviewers

You may or may not have heard about the unpleasant recent events staining the author community. If you haven't, allow me to summarize. An author recorded and posted a video of themselves bashing book reviewers who rate a book 3-stars or less, another author was directly emailing and messaging reviewers who gave their book a low rating and harassing them. And lastly another author was emailing female reviewers asking them to take naked pictures with his novel 'covering their naughty bits' .

Holy cow, that's a lot!

And it's not good. It's awful. It's despicable. It's shameful.

Before diving into the nitty-gritty, allow me to clarify something: Most book reviewers or book influencers do not get paid for their services. They spend hours reading authors books, then put in the work to write the review. Not to mention the exorbitant amount of effort it takes to keep up their social media following, which in many cases is why the author reached out to them in the first place. The majority of these reviewers do it because they simply love to read. Their time and efforts greatly benefit the author and bookish community.

Readers also look to book reviewers and influencers for trusted feedback on novels they may or may not want to purchase. And authors look to reviewers to help spread the word about their new releases.

They are a vital part of the community.

Even if we set the above facts aside, there is no reason for this behavior. Reviewers (any book reader for that matter) is allowed to have their own opinions on a book. As an author, I understand the knife to the gut feeling you get when you see a low rating. I spent years on this book and large sums of money to get it edited and promoted properly. I get it.

I once had a reader send me a pages long email detailed why they didn't like one of my books. You know what I did? Pulled myself together and replied saying 'I am sorry you feel that way and didn't enjoy the novel.' As authors we need to set aside our personal feelings of our books and understand, recognize and except that not everyone will like our books because all art is subjective. And that's OK! In fact, it should be celebrated.

"The great thing about literature is that it's subjective. No two readers read the same book, because we all see the world through different eyes, filter the story through different life experiances." quote from Lisa Wingate

Everyone has different perspectives, opinions and taste and that's what makes art amazing. If everyone liked the same exact thing, we'd have no variety, no incentive for creative freedoms. Thus, the thought of harassing a reviewer who didn't like your book? The audacity to declare reviewers shouldn't have the right to rate below 3-stars? Preposterous!

Harassing reviewers for giving an honest opinion, is rude, unnecessary and harms the overall community. When you do this, it makes the author community look terrible and it makes the reviewer community less likely to take review requests. Neither of these is a good thing!

Authors rely on reviewers; they are a vital part of the book marketing schema. For smaller authors struggling to build a platform, getting a reviewer to accept their work is already hard enough, why make it more difficult?

The issue of books being subjective goes both ways. In addition to the terrible actions of a few authors recently, there was also a reviewer groups that decided they were going to get an entire genre they didn't like canceled. Not just cancel the genre, but the authors who write it too. Why expend the energy to do this?

If there is a genre or sub-genre you don't like, that's fine, you're well within your right not to like something. Feel free to voice your opinion and say why you dislike it, but please, do not try to force your opinions onto other readers. Many people read things as a form of escapism, they know the novels are unrealistic and/or a fantasy, that's why they like them.

As for the 'naughty bit' email requests ... I heard the news a few days ago and I am still struggling to wrap my brain around how best to respond. How about this: Sexual harassment is not acceptable. It is also the LAST thing that will get you book reviews/sales. Just don't do it.

To the authors who may be reading this, please keep in mind book reviews are subjective. As such, you should not take them personally. If that's something you struggle with, I recommend not reading them. Ask a friend or fellow author to read them for you and pull out the ones that can be used for marketing. Or ask them to help identify common complaints that could mean your current marketing is directed at the wrong reader or there is something you need to work on in future writing.

To any book reviewers, bloggers, vloggers who may be reading this, I am sorry if you were the recipient of such behavior. Please know, the majority of authors greatly appreciate you and what you do for the book community. I kindly ask you to please not judge us all based on these rotten apples.


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