It’s like I don’t know what these days.
The other week a couple of Youtube vids made a small ripple when yet another SPA took up the cause of blasting reviewers for leaving bad reviews. Bad as in written by uneducated, illiterate people who are probably too stupid to comprehend the book- otherwise they wouldn’t have left bad reviews. Don’t believe me? As always, see for yourselves.
Meet Suzanne Dome, author of two videos ripping readers for being readers- which she’s since removed. Can’t imagine why. One of them was reuploaded by another site, and I took the liberty of doing the second. For the sake of brevity I’ve provided crib notes, albeit snarky ones, summarizing them because trust me- they’re a lot to sit through. Get it while it’s hot.
Review vs Critiques: Whose Thoughts Matter
According to Ms. Dome, a review is “a casual statement of opinion- like or dislike- CAN SOMETIMES BE EDUCATED AND MAKE REFERENCES TO OTHER THINGS, BUT USUALLY ISN’T… a review is just a rehashing of the plot with ‘I liked this device’, or ‘this was kinda cool’ or ‘this person’s idea was really unique’… it’s not a well formatted, terribly educated thing.”
***Yes, she actually says all that. Suzanne Dome comes out swinging at the bell, channeling Anne Rice and all her elitist “reviewers are poor gatekeepers” bullshit. After all, what the frakk would you know; all you did was spend your money and read it. But wait- there’s more.***
“While reviews can help your sales, if reviewed positively, if negatively you gotta think about where that person might be coming from. You can always look them up and see; if that person is a professional and they gave you a poor review, you may need to check your writing.” (Paraphrased)
***But if they’re a longtime fan who’s suddenly turned off by the complete 360 a series has taken or just someone who can articulate their thoughts – tough shit.***
Conversely, Dome states that “a critique is more formal and more specific to the conventions of writing. It’s like a mini Six-Trait Model breakdown or analysis… and it typically references specific lines, it will give you suggested improvements… this is an EDUCATED THING… it actually has a format; I was taught how to do this in college- I know how to write these… The fact that I know how to do these helps me decide whose reviews to take seriously or not… I can tell when someone is offering a little bit more of an educated opinion about my writing than some other people.”
***And delivered that with a straight face, too. Still with me, or did you snort your demitasse all over the computer screen? Go ahead and grab yourself a DD or a Bustelo from the bodega; we’ll wait.***
***Ya back yet? Comfy? OK, so- now that we all know what kind of person we’re dealing with here- and it’s not even three minutes in- let’s get to it.***
Dome challenges the idea of person behind the review: who the hell are you? Do you even like this genre or did you just happen to pick it up? Do you have an editing background… with a company that does, you know, editing? Did you get paid for the review (looks side-eye)? Pay close attention to what’s said; if they focus on one tiny part of the book you know that a) they didn’t read the whole thing or b) didn’t understand the rest of book enough to have anything to say, especially if they pick out something that’s totally random to focus on and knock down your reviews (I think she means overall score) based on that one random thing that you know is incorrect.
***So if you write about how much you didn’t like that gratuitous sex scene that was dropped in out of nowhere, you either didn’t read the rest of the book or are too stupid to realize it wasn’t gratuitous- it was love at first sight and they’re soulmates from the dawn of time, reincarnated back into these bodies. Just shows what you know. And we’re not even at the four minute mark.***
***I’ll give you a moment to wipe the screen again. And you might want to keep some paper towels handy.***
So- while Dome suggests authors should have a thick skin to shrug these things off, she thinks it’s equally likely that the reader missed the whole point and just wasn’t smart enough to understand your deathless prose. This is what’s wrong with the ‘coddled, sissy generation’ (yeah, you got that right), the ones younger than her, which actually started with her generation (yep, it’s you alright) and their participation trophies. Reviewers, being the huddled masses that they are, sometimes miss the point fo the book.
***The part about the coddled sissies I agree with 100%. But if you watch her body language it looks like she’s studiously avoiding admitting how she’s one of them. And how can anyone miss the point of a PNR/UF/Werewolf/Vampire/Witch/Zombie/Alien/Fae/MarySue Chosen One Sexfest?***
One should be wary of books that have skewed ratings- tons of 5-stars and else (so what was all that other shite about then? And if someone states in their review that this wasn’t really their genre and wasn’t sure what to expect- what’s the problem? That they actually stepped out of their comfort zone to read yours? And you’re fucking complaining?) Dome admits to having a slightly negative reaction when she gets an uneducated review. But if it’s from someone who’s not an editor, or if they’re a blogger (especially all you stay-at-home-moms) or some shit, that’s nice and all but you’re not educated enough to be taken seriously (sic).
***Go ahead- wipe some more. Again, watch her body language- not even seven minutes in and she knows she’s completely full of shit.***
Paid/bad reviewers are not to be taken seriously; you never know who or what you’re dealing with. Unless they cite examples where you messed up, screw ‘em. Now she’ll explain what a GOOD REVIEWER is, and she should know- she written CRITIQUES and been to WORKSHOPS (with Santa’s elves or Keebler’s?) where they’ve done this FORMALLY (Ha- I’m Suzanne Dome, and you’re not!)! A GOOD REVIEWER takes the time to read and re-read the whole book to make sure of how they feel about it. They use references and talk about the entire book, not just the crummy parts. They read a variety of genres, and rate based upon the genre itself and not what they prefer to read (None of that ‘for an Erotic novel this was a pretty lame Western’ crap). Whatever.
GOOD REVIEWERS should also have some pedigree; who wants any ol’ mutt reviewing your novel? Not I, Suzanne Dome! Heck, if they’re not EDUCATED, why even bother with ‘em? Just remember, authors- 3 stars is ok, 4 stars is a little bit better than that and 5 stars is great (actually 4 stars is good, right between ok and great). But if they give you a 3, remember they weren’t smart enough to understand your writing in the first place.
***EDUCATED… EDUCATED… EDUCATED…***
In her own words, Suzanne’s an opinionated bitch and nothing’s gonna stop her from writing, especially since she knows she’s a good one. Don’t let low, illiterately written (sic) reviews ruin your day; she saw a lot of this happen to her friends in some FB groups. Authors shouldn’t get caught up in the Quest For Reviews (finally- some sense!), especially from stupid people who can’t spell (sigh). Only consider EDUCATED reviews; find out who wrote the review and STALK THEM… er, I mean, do your research. Check their bonafides. If they’re EDUCATED and offering a CRITIQUE, then just maybe you should give them the time of day. Hell, harass them into helping you edit the book for free or even being a beta reader. Fuck those huddled, unwashed readers who merely bought the book.
***Maybe you should offer them a refund?***
If anyone’s gonna comment on her books, they should offer up a Six-Trait Breakdown, none of that just- telling-me-what-you-think stuff.
***One more time: customer reviews are for READERS, not AUTHORS. They’re one person telling everybody else what they thought of it. If you want literary criticism, look elsewhere besides customer review sites. This outlook of yours doesn’t inspire much confidence in the quality of your EDUCATION.***
She was pretty harsh on JD Salinger’s work- and she admits to hating his stuff (so in your own words your review of him ain’t worth shit, right?). So if you’ve got issues with Suzanne’s writing, give SUZANNE dem Six Traits. Rate each section, give SUZANNE setting and character. Give SUZANNE a breakdown. To SUZANNE that’s what a good, EDUCATED reviewer would do for SUZANNE.
***Lady, the reviewer isn’t talking to YOU! They’re talking to other people who might buy the book. How do you keep failing to understand this? Oh, right- EDUCATED!***
So, that’s the gist of my rant; it’s been sitting around for awhile (kinda like being constipated?). That’s why she left her FB writing group.
***Which makes sense. A writing group is supposed to be about helping each other improve. If not, you should absolutely leave.***
Don’t just bash the writing, don’t be an asshole; leave a little bit of a critique.
***I’d agree with that, but people are gonna do what they like. It’s funny how SPAs are all over the place about this issue, yet leaning towards one direction: readers are dumb, but should do the beta work for them. “Leave a critique, don’t leave a negative review, just tell ME what I did wrong, if you can’t say anything nice…”***
SUZANNE is all for critiques over reviews, because SUZANNE is fully trained in knowing the difference between someone who’s worth paying attention to and someone who isn’t.
***But not fully trained in knowing the difference between customer reviews and literary critiques. On customer review sites.***
Ok. Got it? Good. Ready for another one? Too bad.
PSA: Trolls Be Trollin’
The second video (which was also taken down) is a 5 minute follow-up to the first one, with more of the same whining.
Suzanne wondered when she’d get her first “troll-asshole rating not attached to a review.” Right off the bat is the problem: if you understand that reviews and ratings are separate, what are you complaining about? So to her anyone who rates a book on GR- i.e., shows their level of interest in reading it- they’re cowards who don’t have the balls to leave a review. Because now (potential) readers should be REQUIRED to explain themselves, or they’re not worth anyone’s time. Trolls and trolls and trolls- oh my! Trolls are people who just like to argue and bring everyone else down (sounds a lot like you, Ms. Dome). If you don’t leave comments and allow us to view who you are (sic), you’re a coward and she DARES YOU to come forth and expose yourself!
***Why? So you can harangue, harass and stalk them just because they didn’t want to read your books?***
***Yes, I agree- Goodread’s algorithms are messed up and need to change in order to separate reviews from ratings. But that’s GR’s fault, not any reader’s. Take your complaints to Customer Service. Call them chicken shit and see what that’ll get you. Matter of fact, I DARE YOU!***
What… you’re NOT gonna complain to GR about that 1-star rating? Really? Why not; is it because you know damn well there’s nothing really wrong with it? Oh, I see- you’re spinning a lame excuse about being proud about getting your first ‘troll rating’.
***THEN WHAT THE FUCK IS ALL THIS BULLSHIT FOR IN THE FIRST PLACE?***
Except now in your next breath you’re saying this person needs to go screw themselves because no one needs to pay any attention to them…
***Make up your fucking mind already, wouldja?***
Oh- now they’re all just unhappy or they’re doing it to help someone else out by lowering your rating? Erm… and exactly how many books have you been selling that you’d think you needed to be targeted in this fashion? FYI: delusions of grandeur are not something you should be bragging about on Youtube.
***I’ll agree up to a point that you should take into consideration the person behind the review… but again, we’re talking about ratings not reviews. All a rating does is indicate how much you’d like to read the book. What does lack of feedback, no commentary or not having the person’s name have to do with wanting to read a book or not? How would having any of that change anything? If you had any information on this person, Suzanne- what would you do with it? The only thing it’d allow for- which you can’t come right out and say without looking like the unhinged, self-entitled butthurt author you are- is to personally attack, if not outright stalk the person who left the rating. Why?***
***Funny part is up until that shit with Lauren Howard last summer you may have gotten what you wanted. Readers were allowed to shelve and discuss books any way they saw fit, until that little self-important SPA who didn’t know what she was talking about spread a bunch of lies about GR until they decided to muzzle everyone. So if the “lack of accountability” on GR bothers you so much, first look to your comrades then look in the mirror. And as always it must be noted that 2, 3, 4 & 5-star ratings lacking the same information didn’t get any mention in all this… now why is that?***
***Yeah, they’re “hiding for a reason”- to not have crazy, dumbass, whackjob authors coming after them just for having an opinion. Having a pseudonym is not hiding; not ever posting anything is hiding. And I’m 100% positive GR knows who everyone on their site is. YOU don’t- because as you’ve clearly demonstrated, there’s no reason you or anyone else should know.***
So now you think your first video is what led to getting the 1-star rating to begin with? By Jove, I think she’s got it! Someone saw the video, decided that you weren’t someone they ever wanted to bother reading and noted it on GR- exactly as they’re permitted to… except that makes them doubly cowardly in your eyes.
***Nope; two videos in and Suzanne don’t got it. But something got to her to make her take these videos down. Wonder what it was?***
For another take on this at 38 Caliber Reviews, see here and here.