I wasn’t going to say anything. I was going to let it the hell go and keep my mouth shut. But I can’t. I just . . . I can’t.
By now, if you’re a writerly type, or any sort of social media user you’ve probably heard of Dylan Saccoccio by now. No? Really?!
If you can’t be arsed to click on all those links (I’m not sure I would either) then here is the gist of it: Dylan Saccoccio wrote a book named ‘The Boy and the Peddler of Death’. It has been out for about nine months and has raked in a good slew of 4* and 5* reviews. Then one Goodreads (GR) reviewer named Cait comes along and says this:
This was just…so unnecessarily wordy and pretentious. I just did not enjoy it at all. Which makes me sad because the summary says it’s for fans of Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and World of Warcraft. Aka three of my favorite things. So how did I loathe this so entirely from page one? I don’t know.
Okay. So she didn’t like it. She rated the book 1* and went on her merry way. Several hours later (if that) Dylan writes a response (sorry it’s a screendump, I’ll tell you why in a tick).
Now . . . if anyone on this blog is going to be mean and/or savage with their words, it will be me. Not Ileandra and certainly not DSB. I have opinions and, I’m afraid to say, I’m not always careful about how I voice them.
But What The Almighty Fuck?
Calm down, Raven. Reel it all in. Reel it in.
I understand – I really do! – the pain and one feels knowing someone out there doesn’t like your work. It hurts. Oh, god it hurts. Something you slaved over, gave sleepless nights to, poured over again and again to make sure it was perfect. And someone doesn’t like it.
Well . . . it happens!
I titled this post ‘the problem with reader reviews’ and I’m starting to question myself as I think that’s a bit misleading. There is no problem with that reader review. Cait was brief and she was honest. She said what the problem was. Yes, perhaps, she could have gone into more detail, but why? She’s not a professional reviewer or reviewing books for blogs, she’s just some chick on GRs who likes to share her opinions on the books she reads.
Readers’ reviews like the one above are painful, for sure, but completely legit and in line with ever reader’s right to review a book. Dylan’s response was just . . . if you haven’t visited the comment thread itself (the link in bold above) the comments for that review go on for 16 pages. 16! And that’s just as the time of writing.
Dylan himself stopped commenting by page 3 (probably because GR deleted his account) and even his earlier comments have been removed. There are more screen shots like the one included in the image link, but you’ll have to visit page 8 of the thread to find them.
I don’t even want to talk about the rest of this guy’s behaviour. About how he offered free books to people who gave him 5* reviews presumably without even reading the book (yes, he did this. Don’t believe me? Check this out). How he attacked everybody in that comment thread and asked Cait to remove her review.
. . . Okay, I clearly do want to talk about it, but only because I’m so upset about how this guy is making the rest of us indie authors appear to a world that doesn’t quite trust us yet.
Reader reviews are a necessary, valuable tool for other readers to help decide whether or not to try something new. Reviews are not for authors! Yes, they can be a good ego stroke but they can also make you feel like your entire life’s work is good for no more than lining the cat’s litter tray. Read them at your peril.
Personally, I treasure every single review I get. Even the less good ones. I’m small and unknown, so getting a review at all is cause to leap up and down and sing, no matter what star rating it is.
This is a review on ‘Vicki & Lara,’ my very first indie release. Click the image to visit the Amazon page if you like.
I remember when I got it thinking, ‘Fuck, I got a review!’ Then I remember reading it and laughing all the way to bed because I then thought ‘Good jerk. Hur, hur, hur.’ Yes, I’m a child, but you’re missing the point. This review tells me that to satisfy this reader, I needed to spend more time exploring the personalities of both characters, and building the depth of their relationship before getting to the naughty-naughty. For this reader. Another set of reviews from about the same book, looks like this:
You can’t please everyone. Nor should you try. But reader reviews should not be a place an author ‘expects’ to be applauded and praised if their work doesn’t suit the pallet of the person reading.
Pretty simple, right? It bloody should be.