But I needed to take a couple of minutes just to vent about book club. We admittedly had a tough session last time, and unfortunately we got personally striking hate mail out of it as well as pointedly low ratings for each of our works. As a writer, I understand that anything negative said about a work is heartbreaking and hard to not take personally, but as a paying customer purchasing a product, I believe that I have the right to warn other potential customers about my personal experience with the product. Some people are loyal to their brands and one person's poor experience won't (nor should) have any impact on those people. On the other hand, if you are selling a product to any paying member of the general public, there is an expectation that the customer will be satisfied with the product, and when he/she is not, what use is there in the company harassing the customer?
Did you find the product satisfactory? "No."
What were your concerns with the product? "*insert lengthy list here.*
What could company do to remedy these concerns or make your experience more pleasant? "*insert lengthy list here*".
Would you recommend this product/company? "Not this product, but I'm willing to see how the other models fair before saying "no" entirely"
****insert angry messages targeting our organization, our medium of communication, our personal blogs, our education, and randomly assigning 1 star ratings to our novels without commentary or justification****
"On second thought, I'd like to change my answer... I understand feeling upset about our point-by-point assessments, which we interpreted as justifying our rating of the product since knowing "why" is so much more helpful than just a number, but claiming us to be unprofessional for a free medium that, by company's own words, does not receive much interaction from the general public, then what exactly is the threat, especially when you have self-proclaimed hundreds of fans and followers?"
Apparently author attacks are a very common thing in online book clubs and marketing sites. Authors tag-team their friends into slandering anything that isn't flattering. And I do understand that reviewers can be cruel. In the author blogs and forums I have been reading lately, many authors deal with the cruelty of low reviewers who tag-team against an author with clearly no evidence of having read the work. This is my issue. Clearly we read the work since we discussed it point-by-point. Unjustified? Unjustified because we had too many specific issues with it? Or unjustified since it was aired as a public video? I said the same basic details in my written review which did not get reported or flagged, and yet on the video where we have the freedom to pull out exact pages and references to where we took issue, this was crossing the line.
This is an unprofessional medium for book reviews!
How is a spoken-word review less becoming than a written one? If anything, more people will read the blurb on the actual book site than random people stumbling onto the video, plus, yes, the videos are 2 hours long, not because we want to slam down books, but because we believe that any book chosen for book club, for better or worse, deserves the same care and attention to detail as any other, thus every book club session is 2 hours on average. A little long? Sure. So now we've even lessened the audience-ship since who is going to invest in a 2 hour long vlog? And as for the video medium being "high-school", tell that to the actual professionals who mass thousands of followers for doing the exact same thing we do. Just type in "book review" and you will get scores upon scores of individuals and groups doing the same thing.
Why air it if you're only going to embarrass and degrade authors?
I prefer to pick my monthly reads blind, which means that I take a recommendation from someone else, or find a cover that looks interesting to me, and tell the book club that this is my pick without having ever read it before. I look forward to finding hidden treasures and exploring uncharted territory. Unfortunately, in doing this you don't always find those diamonds in the rough... sometimes it's just the rough. But we've set out to read the book, our viewers and followers (who don't always leave public comments but who let us know when they've enjoyed our insight/entertainment) deserve to see how it plays out. We don't always have the same opinion on the books - a couple months ago, we had completely opposing views to the books - so we go though it for the first time, all together, on the live feed. We won't love every book, we won't even like every book, and no selling author should hold that expectation. Add on top of that a book filled with typos and grammatical errors with narrative inconsistency, we won't love it, and if you have hundreds of people who can get over that in a book and still love it, great, but if I pay for your book, I don't care how established you are, I'm holding you to the same standard that I would any other author, and if I don't feel like that standard has been met, is it really me who is embarrassing you? You might get 1000 "likes" for every one of me, but if you are in the business to sell, those unsatisfied mes are going to crop up. You'll have to face it one day. At least you got our money out it. It wasn't spontaneous slandering, it was explaining exactly what it is I got for my money.
On a more positive note, I thought I would share one of the articles that I stumbled upon. As both a writer and a reviewer, I found it encouraging to know that this is a common problem. http://www.becomeasuccessfulauthor.com/2012/01/attack-of-the-author-bad-review-reaction/ It was well written with helpful commentary that by other book club reviewers that made our issue seem less personal. It's a product. Yes, you poured your heart into it, but someone also once poured their heart into that crap can-opener you hate or the clothes you only use for painting in. As a famous author once expressed, you can linger on the negative people, or you can focus on your supporters. Was I in the negative category? Without a doubt and I have no regrets about that; I feel strongly about my opinions. But why does your world have to stop because of it? Shouldn't your world be bigger than that? Shouldn't you be, too?
The novel reviews have since been taken off of my book and my fellow book clubbers. I was willing to accept the judgement but am thankful that you have since changed your mind about your retaliation. Rest assured, we will not be using your work again in the future. Best of luck to you and your supporters.