When I sat down to write, this is not the post you were going to read. But editing last night, it was late, I was tired, and I decided final editing needed to be done with a less sleepy mind than mine was at that moment. What’s here now is a result of more time to think, and reactions to changes from the original post that sparked all of this.

In a nutshell, a little controversy got started in the book blogosphere yesterday when author Sylvia Massara took “unprofessional reviewers” to task on her site, Authors Helping Authors. Please note, Massarra has since updated her original post . All passages from her blog that I use are taken from the original posting and may not reflect what you will see on her site at this time.

The point Massarra was trying to make on her blog yesterday is below:

When you offer your book to be reviewed, first take the time to check out the reviewer. Have a read of some of the reviews they wrote in the past. See if they trashed someone else. Make sure they back up their reviews with facts and objective criticism.

This is sound advice.  The problem is, the author asked some sites to review her books, and then she didn’t like what they had to say. And, she called them out – by name and link-  in her post and trashed them.  The links and call-outs of the specific blogs have since been removed, although you will see the original text below.

Well, for starters, the reviewers were not professional. They were not objective in what they had to say. I found their comments to be subjective and sometimes downright malicious. Two such blogs that have set themselves up as reviewers of books are “The Book Binge” and “Chick Lit Plus. Now, I don’t expect everybody to like my books, but what really gets me is when amateur reviewers use words like “predictable” and “one dimensional”, but they don’t quantify this. They don’t back up their comments with facts.

Except that both the reviewers actually did back up the reasons they didn’t care for the book. And these were not attacks on the author, but problems that they had with plot or character development that made the book not work for them.   So the author lost a little credibility with me right there.

Massara then went on to say:

Oftentimes, the people who set up these kinds of blogs have never written a thing in their lives, except maybe a grocery list. Most are avid readers who think they are qualified to review someone else’s work. So it’s very sad when they go about damaging the image of upcoming small press and indie authors with the rubbish they write.

… Please bear in mind that writers work very hard at their craft and the last thing they need is a smartass who makes subjective comments because they don’t know how to do anything else.

Y’all, that fired me up a bit. I am an avid reader, and  I do write grocery lists. She’s got me there. I thought it was a bit condescending to say that because readers aren’t necessarily writers, well, we’re just not qualified to judge whether or not we like something. Sorry. I think that because I get so much joy out of reading and that because I read such a variety of books, I’m at least a little qualified to blog about why a book appeals to me. Reviews are by nature subjective, whether someone is paid to be a book reviewer (which I assume is what the author means by professional) or does it as a hobby. The point of a blog like mine, like Chick Lit Plus, The Book Binge and any number of other sites, is to share opinions about what we’ve read.

A book either speaks to me or it doesn’t.  It makes me want to turn a page, or it doesn’t. It makes me want to read more by the author  or say, hm, this author/genre/book is not for me.  Maybe, in my very small sphere of influence, someone is going to read a book because I suggest it.  Or maybe they’re going to read something despite me saying, “I didn’t care for that one,” and explaining why.

I don’t believe in trashing an author. I would never say on my blog “oh, you’re a crap writer and should never put pen to paper again.”  But I think Massara did herself a great disservice in her ranting post.  Her well-intentioned message of check out reviewers before you ask to work with them was lost in petulance and name calling that came across as something that should have been lamented with a best friend rather than through the blogosphere.

And although I did check out Massara’s site to see what all the fuss was about, nothing that I have seen is sparking a desire for me to read her book. That is, perhaps, what is most sad about this whole thing.