Thursday, February 23

I had something else planned...

I woke up early this morning, and in the quiet time before the child and cat invade our bedroom, I planned an entire blog post about authors reviewing other authors. I may still get to that one later today. But, TWO things came up that are now bugging the heck out of me, so I'm blogging about them instead.

The First:

I saw only one story on Good Morning, America this morning. The one about SAHM being sellouts to the Women's Movement. Well, I guess I'm a sellout. For years I owned my own retail business, but I knew when I got pregnant that I wouldn't be able to give the business or my child enough attention, splitting my days and week between the two wasn't going to work for me. I chose to be a "Mom" and have never regretted it. Next year when my son starts school full time I plan to go back to work, in fact I've been putting together a business plan that will hopefully allow me to work for myself and fit it into my son's school hours.

If we are lucky enough, why can't we choose what will work for us and our families, why do people on either side of this issue feel the need to criticize those who make different choices? Isn't that what we are looking for? Options and choices, not to be pigeon holed? Ack--I'm done...this is one subject that just pisses me off.

The Second:

I'm rather confused about reviews. Once a book reaches the bookstore shelves are reviews geared for readers or the authors? My thought is constructive criticism comes from agents and editors before a book is released, once a book is released reviews are for readers, to help them decide if it's something they want to read or pass on.

Today's column over on RTB is comparing some reviewers to Simon from American Idol.

Here's a quote from the columnist:

I used to review books. If I read a book that I truly didn’t like, for one reason or another, I didn’t review it. I figured that author got to where they were for a reason and what I didn’t like someone else would. Plus, I knew how hard that author had worked to first get published, then stay published. I was honest in my reviews, but skipped writing reviews of “wallbanger” books. I figured it was my way of staying honest, but not becoming Simon.

...skipped writing reviews of “wallbanger” books????? How does a reviewer only write reviews for books they like??? Someone needs to tell Ebert & Roeper they can only review the movies they're giving a thumbs up. Forget all those movie goers that will see a dog--we wouldn't want to hurt the director's or the actors' feelings.

There's a huge difference between being "honest, but not becoming Simon."

You don't like snarky reviews? Don't read them.

I'm done.

Have a good one.


***Edited--I'm starting to think we are once again talking about Amazon Book Reviews and they are a dime a dozen and should be taken with a grain of salt. At what point do authors forget what is written on Amazon and move on to legitimate reviewers and review sites.

Now, I'm really done.


Shirley Jump said...

Tara, (ended up following your link and saw the post here, too)

I don't have an issue with reviews being written for readers. I don't need a reviewer to send me kudos; I'd rather she were honest so readers knew what to expect in a Shirley Jump book. And like anyone, I am sure there are areas where I can improve. That need to be better each time fuels me to strive harder. Nothing wrong with that.

However, I do think there's a fine line between being honest and being out and out mean. The reason I skipped reviewing wallbanger books is that I simply can't be mean (at least on paper; my kids think I have mean down well ;-). I simply don't believe in dissing someone or their hard work. If I can't say anything nice...I don't say anything at all. My mother was right ;-)

But if I sort of like a book, or it has some merit, then I will say something nice, and I will point out things that bothered me as a reader. I won't, however, ever stoop to bashing an author and launching a Simon. It's just a line I personally draw, though there are others who don't believe in lines.


PS: I was very glad to NOT see my book under the "not worth the time" list :-)

Tara Marie said...

Shirley--Of course there is a fine line between being honest and mean, but there is a also a huge difference between criticizing an author and criticizing their work. A snarky and funny review of a wallbanger doesn't mean a personal attack on the author.

If someone is a reviewer don't they have an obligation to the reader to be honest and not pick and choose what they want to review because they don't want to hurt an author's feelings?


PS I find a book not worth my time I'm not insulting the author, it's only my opion...we've all got them and well you know...:-)

Shirley Jump said...

>>If someone is a reviewer don't they have an obligation to the reader to be honest and not pick and choose what they want to review because they don't want to hurt an author's feelings?<<

Of course. However, when I reviewed, there were two books I absolutely despised from page one. Heck, I don't like Danielle Steel books but a gazillion other people do. If I read one for a review and couldn't find ONE nice thing to say, then I let it go. If I had something nice-ish, then I posted it.

Perhaps it was because when I reviewed I was still trying to get published. I knew how hard I worked to write those books and knew that there were times when my writing stunk and times when it didn't. Now, on the other side of the publishing fence, I know the pressures of writing to impossible deadlines and producing a product you might not feel passionate about anymore.

It seems to only be creative fields where this kind of "this author is a total loser" review thing tends to happen. I never see a review like that of the guy who installed my flooring wrong. Or the plumber who ran the ice line and forgot a shutoff, which meant a flood when we had the fridge moved.

Criticize the work, because there are pieces that are not up to par, but leave the author's personal self out of it.

My two cents,


Bookwormom said...

Hi Tara- IMO, the women's movement did more to pit women one against the other than it did to empower us. We women spend more time sniping at each other & pulling one another down than we reach out to help one another.

I'm all for salary parity & job security & family time off, etc. but I don't understand why we must pull one another down to try & get it.

Personally I've started to ignore the 'reviewer' wars going on in Romancelandia. I write my thoughts about what I read, good or bad. DNFs get a mention about why I couldn't finish it.

I don't discuss the authors, as I'm in no position to critique a person I don't know. However their work is in the public domain & thus I feel commentary is appropriate.

Tara Marie said...

Amanda, I'm starting to think I'm clueless, maybe I go to the wrong sites, but I don't find the insult the author instead of the work reviews. I'm wondering if we are once again talking about Amazon and that's just a waste time.

CindyS said...

First - there is a reason some of us don't like to call ourselves feminists and it's for crap like this. I'm the biggest sell out there is! I have no job and no kids. I'm just a stay at home. Sure, I have my reasons (I have problems with authority ;)) but, I've talked to my husband and he says, if I am happy staying home and not working then he is happy. Now, I'm not saying I'm happy at home, it's just that I'm my own worse enemy and panic attacks blow! I remember when Bob and I had to socialize for his job and the first question asked is 'what do you do' (at the time I was working) and the second 'do you have kids?'. Bob and I can't and boy, is that a conversation stopper. I told Bob we should just tell people we don't have kids and leave it at that - let 'em squirm ;)

I believe that every woman has the right to live her life the way she wants. I will fight for her right and you better believe I will be one loud bitch when it comes to equal pay. Don't let anyone say you are a sell out - you inspire me! You owned your own business, chose to stay home to raise your child and are already planning for when your son heads to school. You ARE the Women's Movement ;)

Second - I'm sick to death of these 'can't say a bad word'. Guess what, if I spend money on your book and it sucks, I'm gonna say it. Same with a plumber that screws up, those La-Z-boy f*ckers who are fixing our chair, or anyone else who charges me for something and doesn't come through.

I have never attacked an author as a person but it is my right to say 'if your reading tastes are like mine, save your money! If they are polar opposite then you are gonna love it' Hey, maybe that would consitute a good comment.

Tara Marie - I'm sure you know what happens if your customers don't like the merchandise in your store or if they didn't like your customer service. I don't know of any job where you only get to hear the good stuff about you. No one says the author is not trying hard at her job, we're just saying hey, next time maybe you should try harder on this.

In case Shirley Jump wants to check out one of my bad reviews I will post a link here.

I think you and I sometimes have completely different takes on the books we read but I still read your reviews and look at what you liked and didn't in a story. Some of your hot button things might not be mine so I can decide from that.

Anyways, my point, if you can't take the heat...


Bookwormom said...

Tara- I never thought about Amazon, but perhaps that's it. I never read Amazon reader reviews so the whole uproar eludes me.

CindyS- I'm with you about complaints. I like to write them down & send them to people. Like the BBB or the state licensinig boards or whatever. I, too, never understood or agreed with the whole 'women can't be negative' cultural thing. It's likely a guy thing.

McVane said...

I, too, never understood or agreed with the whole 'women can't be negative' cultural thing. It's likely a guy thing.


Shirley Jump said...

Just to clarify, no, it's not an Amazon only thing (though there have been bad reviews there, of course). I have seen reviews where the author was attacked -- she's too old to do this anymore, she should quit writing, or should have ten books back, she's not clever enough to write a good plot.

Go ahead and attack the plot, the characterization, etc., but don't slam the author personally and tell her that she has written ten books too many and she'd be better off retiring yesterday (and I personally know two authors who have had this happen, in print reviews, not Amazon).

I honestly have no beef with people who don't like my STORIES. I can't please everyone (just ask my kids :-). However, someone who personally attacks me, saying I am an idiot for writing, etc., that's going over the line. You may disagree with my book or my approach or not get the jokes in my comedies, but don't take it to the next level.

I don't think it's just a woman thing. I think most reviewers are women, but there are some really nasty male reviewers out there too. I had a friend whose book was reviewed and the comments about him were so devastating, he never wrote again. It was a borderline personal attack, and it was really sad to see.

Anyway, I too will shut up now :-) I have another book to write so some reviewer can suffer through it next year ;-)

Kristie (J) said...

Re; your first topic - I think that's one of the great ironies of "the women's movement" Instead of freeing women to choose - it became a damned if you do, damned if you don't proposition. I was a SAHM when my kids were small and glad that we made that decision. Yet always there was the thought in the back of my mind - Maybe I should be working. But if I had continued to work - I would have felt bad I wasn't at home with my kids.

Re; second topic. As long as critism is constructive and you don't dump all over the author, I see no reason in the world not to critisize a book. Some books are bad. And why the heck not let others know that's what you thought of it???? With books being $10 a book here, I would much prefer that someone share why a book didn't work for them, then just ignoring a stinker thinking "oh the author has worked hard" That's nutty IMO. If I get criticized at work - as long as it's constructive - I appreciate it and make it a point to learn. And while I think Simon can go over the line (I know you don't watch it) on AI, basically he tells the truth much more than the others. And after 5 seasons, the singers should be prepared for what he's like!
And that is my 2 cents worth - one for each.

Tara Marie said...

Cindy--...You ARE the Women's Movement. aww--thanks. I agree about complaining when somethings not right. One of Anthony's Christmas presents was defective. I sent an email to the "North Pole" and "Santa" sent a new one.

Amanda and Maili--I agree "Amen"

Shirley--I'm sure there are "attack" reviews out there--I just don't come across them in the reviews I read.

Kristie--I've been lucky and have been able to push the "I should be working thoughts" to the back of my brain. But, I honestly don't regret my decision, I consider myself lucky to able to stay home and be Mom. There's plenty of time to set the world on fire later.

...ignoring a stinker thinking "oh the author has worked hard" That's nutty IMO. Exactly, this honestly sends my shackles up more than anything else in the whole column.

Honestly--now I really am DONE.

Tara Marie said...

shackles--ack--hackles, that's what I get for writing with 2 Benadryls in my system--LOL>

sybil said...

If a bad review makes a person never write again, I tend to think they shouldn't have published in the first place.

That is prolly just me...

Bookwormom said...

Sybil- I agree with you, so now it's two of us. LOL

Tara Marie said...

Amanda & Sybil--I agree too, I had decided not to comment. I had a really snarky thought, but thought better of posting it--wouldn't want to be "mean".

Nicole said...

My brother IM'd me the other day upset that all the women in his English lit class were upset about a character's SAHM status and how demeaning it was to women. I guess he got in a heated argument taking the SAHM side.

My mother was a SAHM, so that's where he was coming from. As he told me, "I was only trying to stand up for my mother and all she did."

My brother may be an ass most days (and occasionally a chauvinistic pig), but I can see where this would bug him.

Guess this topic just reminded me of that convo.

Tara Marie said...

Nicole--all the "women" in his English Lit class sound like idealist young ladies, reality is much different when you're in the situation and decisions much harder. It doesn't surprise me that your brother felt the need to defend his mom, it's something most boys/young men and even adult men do. Good for him I'd defend my mom too.


Sam said...

I chose to be a SAHM and never regretted it.
Some years I worked part time, and I have always done tutoring at home for kids. I have an enormous amount of respect for workign mothers (like my mom) But I think it's up to everyone to choose what they want to do (what is sad is moms who want to stay at home and raise their kids, but because of financial strain, have to work. I truly believe raising children is a more-than-a full time job.)