Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing. Aristotle 384 BC-322 BC
I did a lot of reading this summer. We’re talking tons, morning til night, for days on end. The result of this is I’ve become a bit of a book review connoisseur. One thing I’ve discovered is that finding or writing a useful book review is no easy task. Reviews such as “this book is awesome” or “this piece of trash was not worth the paper it’s printed on” or “the author is a spawn of Satan” are opinions that make me want to rip my hair out. They are not helpful to the writer or the reader. Why was it awesome? Why was it trash?
In a way, I’m more tempted to read the trash books because whatever was in the book ticked the reviewer off so much that I want to see it for myself. The word awesome is so over used that it almost meaningless. To me is says that the reader is probably in their 20s and has read maybe 15 books in their life, the majority of them required reading. I could be wrong and maybe I’ll start asking the reviewers what their definition of awesome is. If it includes snowboarding and punking their friends on YouTube then there you go. Not my cup of tea.
One thing that I’ve gleaned from reading reviews is with eBooks and self-publishing, just about anybody can shoot a book out there. A person with enough tenacity to put together a book deserves at least an E for effort. Some of stories are absolute drivel that would never make through a major publishing house for whatever reason – thin to nonexistent plots, flimsy characters, the ravings of a lunatic, so smarmy it borders on nauseating. Unfortunately some potentially fantastic pieces of fiction get out there without the benefit of a good editor or proof reader.
This is where it gets sticky. Some beginning authors publish their book as if they were a lizard laying an egg. Just plop and move on, never come back to check on it. It’s a shame to see a book on amazon with 8 reviews and all of them suggest the author run their book through spell and grammar check, and then go on to complain about the formatting. Not one word about the contents of the book and never a peep from the author. Other authors that are engaged check on their reviews, respond, and put out a revised edition or whatever it takes. It’s easy enough to do with an Ebook. These are the authors that I will keep an eye on.
As a result, when I do finally spit out a book length fiction story I’m going to make double damn sure that I spell check it 187 times. I’m also going to try to talk everyone I can think of in to proof reading it with me. Hopefully there will be content buried somewhere in the collection of properly spelled and formatted text. I would not want it to die the death of faint praise. “Well it was OK I guess, but I sure wish she had run it through the goll dang speller thingy a time or 2.”