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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Have We Become Too Nice?

Here's my ranting video on the state of reviewing indie authors and the need for more honesty.

Have reviewers become too nice? Are we suffering from Paula Abdul syndrome? You saw her on American Idol. How often did she turn to someone and say "That hurt my ears."

Let me back and say this: I'm a teacher. It's my job to look at people who suck at something and help them get better. When my students make a mistake I force them to say "Yeah!" instead of "Shoot!".  I encourage to look at their mistakes and missteps as a learning experience, a "what-not-to-do".

And then I look at the indie writing community.  I've seen several books that are very poorly written receive several 5 star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.  I've seen lots of high fives for ridiculous cover art.

So I have to ask myself: Have we become too nice? Should we be more like Simon and less like Paula?

I have also read many good indie authors. David James, Helen Boswell, Chris Strange, Travis Luedke, etc. I could go on. I always post reviews for the books I liked but I haven't been posting reviews for the ones I hated. Hence this post.


Amazon: M Joseph Murphy on Amazon: Paperback and ebook
Smashwords: M Joseph Murphy Author Page on Smashwords
Kobo: M Joseph Murphy Books on Kobo


  1. I agree with you that there are authors enabled by "yes people" in search of similar validation. I have seen a few of them meet with very hard realities, but honestly, I think that's a worthwhile experience. We all eventually meet with real, honest-to-goodness strangers who evaluate our work with a critical eye. Sometimes we get the praise we deserve, sometimes get the criticism. Serious writers will regroup, rewrite, hire a different editor...*something*. They just will.

    I do believe that the better a book is marketed, the better it is received by "pure readers", and the more "in" it is to be reading that book. In that case, there's an entirely different sort of pressure to review "nicely." I've seen Goodreads reviewers state openly that they're afraid to 1-star a book all their friends are loving.

    I don't review anything indie unless I can give it a 4 & up. It is not my role to be that writer's editor. Anything I say as a fellow author will be taken differently because of what I do professionally. If I give beta feedback that's a different story. I think all writers need to read their work aloud--and often--and use betas. They need to be very clear with their betas what they need. Those needs are going to vary based on what their readers want. If you are a nobody selling nothing, you need all kinds of feedback. If you are one of those 8th grade level writers selling beacoup copies, then it's not broken. Don't fix it.

    We all die a little inside every time an inferior work gets higher sales and a better ranking than our decent-to-masterpiece quality work, right? But such is life. I'm told I'm quite good-looking, too, in the right light...yet some other girl is still Miss America. ;)

    If I read something pubbed by a bigger house, I review honestly. I'm neither trying to hurt or hinder those houses or those authors, but I know that my opinion doesn't have the kind of sting it does to a fellow indie author. But, in general, yeah...unless I am just WILD about a book I try not to leave any stars at all.

    1. The whole pressure to review "nicely" drives me a little mental. My problem is I've never been afraid to say what's on my mind. It's gotten me into hot water more times than not.

      I was planning on doing a blog post about what NOT to do using one specific author's book. It really was horrendous. Very lazy writing. But I don't want to come across as mean. In the end I decided to do a series of post based on my own writing over several drafts. It gets the point across without making anyone feel bad. I did, however, send a email directly to the author explaining my opinions on the novel.

      Thank you for the extremely well written comment. I think it accurately states the situation much better than my original post.

  2. I think we are use to getting what we want when we want it. Self-publishing is easy. Even with a ligament publishing house and good sales there is still crap. BUT... not nearly as much.

    I have been a member of for years. And I get tons of reviews singing my praises. The site really pushes reviews that are sweet. Well sweet doesn't help you to improve.

    It is not enough to write. It is not enough to read and be praised by a few. The goal is write well. To tell a story that has engaging characters, solid plot, and perhaps is more than the words on the page. That is the goal.

    Do not lower the bar. We need to move forward and up.

    Forgive my errors, for I am dyslexic.

    1. Thanks for the comment and for mentioning I will definitely check it out.

      I agree with you 100%. We all all so used to getting what we want when we want it that we forget to ask SHOULD we want it. A few errors are next to impossible in a sizable book. But there should only be a few errors. When they are 10-15 per page, that's when we have a problem.


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