Advice-columnist Margo Howard is distressed that she received bad reviews of her recent memoir from real, ordinary people on Amazon. The reviews were written by Amazon’s Vine community, and Ms. Howard didn’t like them one bit, finding them “inaccurate, insulting, and demonstrably written by dim bulbs.” She finds the very idea of being reviewed by these folks distressing:
I can see the value—maybe—for man-on-the-street reviews of cold cream and pots and pans, but books?!
(I love the interrobang.) And:
Books, of course, can be and are reviewed pre-publication—but by reviewers who are attached to magazines or newspapers. “Book Reviewer” is considered a profession, and reviews are done by other writers. Good sense would seem to militate against any group of people unschooled in creative and critical reviewing coming up with a worthwhile review. The Vine people, who deal mostly with products for the home and the body, seem inappropriate bellwethers regarding products for the mind, if you will.
Luckily, Jennifer Weiner is around to offer some sensible words in response:
Howard frets that the Amazon attack hurt her book’s chances. There’s no way to tell if that’s true, but I’d give readers the benefit of the doubt. My guess is that they can sniff out a review that’s the result of baseless jealousy or an unfounded agenda, the same way they’ve learned to dismiss five-star fan-girling from an author’s BFFs, colleagues, or mom.
If the Amazon reviewers slammed Howard’s work without reading it, that’s a problem, and Amazon should address it. If they panned Howard’s book because they didn’t like it, that’s reality, and Howard need to figure out how to live with it, and to come to terms with publishing in 2014. Everyone is a critic. Everyone’s got a soapbox. And the worst fate for a writer isn’t being attacked … it’s being ignored.
Here, by the way, is a review that just popped up on Barnes & Noble about my novel The Distance Beacons:
Wow, Violet! This was great! Thanks so much for recommending it to me! (Haha, sorry for the typo) Your style is absolutely wonderful! Please keep going, and l will keep reading! <p> Thanks again for reading mine, Ring &infin
Huh? Actually, there seems to be a random conversation going on between a couple of people, carried out via reviews of my novel. Luckily, all their reviews are 5-stars. At least I’m not being ignored. I think.