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Are We Scaring Off the Best Reviewers?

Amateur writers are learning to write. It isn’t easy. Our egos are tender and can be hurt by constructive  comments. While we learn, we expect to have failings. We are helped up and encouraged to do it all over again. We practice and keep on practicing. We cry and throw our work into the trash and swear to not write another word, but we do. If writing is that important to us, we do. No reviewer should tell us our work is junk.


Everyone receives those reviews from Hell occasionally. The ones where the reader isn’t able to see past her own favorite genre and thinks you should write to please her. The ones who haven’t the life experience to see the ‘point’ of a topic they aren’t familiar with. We get them all.


When we rant publicly about the stupidity of reviewers, we need to remember that we posted our work publicly and therefore asked for public comments. While we aren’t expected to take rude, personal insults from anyone, we do need to learn to identify and separate perceived ‘insults’ from bonafide constructive comments. Amateur writers are sensitive about their work, but so are amateur reviewers. They are both doing their best to get that particular piece to the finished point, and should be respected for it. A reviewer who calls a writer a stupid moron risks his account to be deleted; what does a writer risk for doing the same?


Reviewing well isn’t easy; in fact, it’s very hard. I have spent hours reading through the masses of items posted (submitted) and more hours writing the reviews. I have struggled through spelling and grammar errors that were so bad, I had to guess at the meaning. I read those first rough drafts that the writer was so anxious to post, he didn’t take the time or courtesy to do any editing. I read these gladly because I enjoy watching the imaginations of new writers take flight. I want to help them find their wings, but it’s not easy sometimes.


A reviewer is supposed to point out areas they noticed, that in their opinion, needs more work. We are supposed to be constructive while remaining kind; and most of us try very hard to do this. We are cautioned to always be aware of the vulnerable writers that will be reading these comments, and word them so their feelings aren’t hurt. It’s an almost impossible task being asked of readers, because writers are hurt so easily.


I've noticed that most of these rants center around a low rate given, but little is mentioned of the comments. What is the real cause for anger? A harsh review - or the low rate? If the name of the reviewer happens to be anonymous, will that make the review less credible? What if the rate was a five? Any complaints for anonymous? Most of us don't like to give or receive low rates, but sometimes an honest review requires an honest rate and they may feel anonymous is the safest way to go.


When I see an item or a post ranting against moron reviewers, I take it personally. I feel it personally, because I am a reviewer, a reader. What’s said against one is said against all, because we’ve all hurt someone’s feelings if we’ve ever given a thorough critique. The sight of someone hurling flaming insults at their latest reviewer is enough to send the average sensitive reader into panicked retreat. Many of the kinder folks are already frightened of offending writers, and they will look at the carnage and decide that maybe they shouldn’t read your work seriously after all.


Amateur reviewers are learning to read as writers. It isn’t easy. Our egos are tender and can be hurt by abusive comments. While we learn, we expect to have failings. We struggle to our feet with little encouragement, to do it all over again. We practice and keep on practicing. We cry and throw our work into the trash and swear to not read another word, but we do. If reviewing is that important to us, we do. No writer should tell us our work is junk.


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