In the deepest shadows hidden behind the cyber sparks of the ever-reaching interwebs, the Jerk Reviewer thrives on the quiet anguish of authors and the attention of unsuspecting potential book buyers. Make no mistake, the Jerk Reviewer is real, be this person female, male, child or adult. I’m mostly talking about ebook reviewers, but since the explosion of the online review, everyone is an expert and no one is accountable for what they say online – and not just for books, but for everything they spend a buck on. It’s become a bit of an epidemic – the idea that because you can, you should. We’ve all read a book we didn’t like. Some we’ve even hated. But not everyone will leave a truly appalling review of those books online. It takes a special kind of reader to do that.
So, today we’re talking about the less than classy reviews many books receive (some are even from other authors, which just confuses the hell out of me). Quickly, let me explain that I do not feel as if all critical reviews are jerky. On the contrary, critical reviews are just as important as favorable reviews and can actually be helpful. Obviously from the side of an author, the more favorable the reviews, the better. But the critical ones, done right, can be good at times. Authors learn what their readers want, and that’s not something any amount of stars (be it a one star or five star review) will validate.
Anyway, let’s not digress. I’d like to get down to the nitty-gritty, slice ’em and dice ’em, blood-letting, scathing and immature reviews that I want to pin an award on for making the mad dash to the top of the Jerk Review pile.
But, what exactly is a Jerk Review? Well, every reviewer has a different style, but I see the purpose of a book review as the reader’s place to honestly say how the book made them feel, and if they would recommend it to another. This isn’t Rocket Science, but it’s gotten so darn complicated and upsetting and it doesn’t need to be! If the reviewer lavishes insults, discloses spoilers or dumps an entire synopsis, attacks the author or other readers who enjoyed the book, rated the book even though they didn’t read or finish it, nit-picks absolutely every detail in the plot because they know better, or drops a fake 1 star review for the hell of it, etc…then ladies and gents, you have a Jerk Reviewer.
Some of the negative reviews I’ve read (not just on my own, mind you) are so HORRIBLE that one is only left to assume that the reviewer was intentionally being harsh because they hope that someone out there will eventually read their words. They are looking for a platform. They want to be hurtful. Slit open the author’s wrist and pour acid in it. But why do this?
The ease in which anyone can review anything online sort of gives those playground bullies the chance to lash out with one difference – they aren’t on the playground anymore. The public can’t ‘see’ these people, their faces, their names. They get to hide behind the safety of their computer and continue pissing people off without much consequence, if any.
In a way, the negative book review process has become a bit of an art form. It takes practice, skill and a lack of empathy for others. I almost feel like this is a job and someone out there regularly takes applications for Jerk Reviewer positions. I mean, is it exciting, flaming a book or author online and then brushing off your hands and moving on to the next book on your Kindle? It can’t be. Even with the influx in the publishing world and all the NOT great titles out there, do the writers deserve to be treated the way they are online? Probably not. Reading is supposed to be a form of entertainment. If a book didn’t entertain, then move on and find another. Why the compulsion to jump online and rip it to shreds for every stranger out there to see? I think it takes a certain kind of person to do such things. Whether they realize what they are doing (uh, probably) or not.
Let’s discuss just HOW one can be a top notch Jerk Reviewer:
Make it personal
Well, duh. The author must be a novice. A child. Totally lacking any imagination or skill. So point all of this out. The more personal you make your review about how awful the book was, and how it stole precious time from your day that you will NEVER get back, and how you would have rather hung upside down from a tree while fire ants devoured your skin than read the book to the end. This book ruined your LIFE. Make sure the author is aware just how miserable you feel knowing that the book exists and you, poor sap that you are, spent an entire $2.99 on it then threw away your Kindle because it made you vow to never read another book again. This book killed literature for you and everyone should know it. You quit.
Here’s a woman who just moseyed on over to her laptop one day under the misconception that she’s a writer to the detriment of the reading public on whom she seeks to foist this rubbish that evinces an utter lack of any skill.
Go heavy on the insults
I mean…really, really heavy. Don’t just say the plot was unrealistic, the main character was too predictable, the author is dumb, etc…go ALL the way and really let it rip. The meaner, the better. As far below the belt that you can hit the writer, the more people will understand your pain. Don’t beat around the Amazon bush, make all readers aware that this author SUCKS BALLS. This isn’t the time to leave a ‘nice’ negative review. Give your insults some creative spice, will ya?
There is no way this book deserves this many 5 star reviews. The only explanation I can come up with is that the author has paid huge bucks to an online reputation management company, essentially buying votes. Either that, or maybe she belongs to a mega-church which has somehow convinced legions of true believers that a good review for this book gets them one step closer to heaven. CERTAINLY there can be no discerning readers who actually LIKED this utter piece of garbage.
Be a know it all
I mean, you already ARE, so why not show the world how utterly perfect your life is by ripping apart the plot of a book and pointing out what you feel are all the mistakes. Ignore completely the fact that fiction writing is ‘not real’ and really let the author and potential readers know that black holes ‘don’t work that way’. I mean, jeesh, don’t authors do ANY research?
While the plot was pretty interesting,it required the reader to suspend common sense. Survivors finding places that still had electricity and running water stretches credibility even if the place had solar.
Spoilers are awesome
Seriously, they are the best thing since smartphones. The plot, the climax, the ending, who dies…BLAB ABOUT EVERYTHING. Because all those potential readers out there truly want to know exactly how the story plays out before they buy it. Really, it’s your civic duty to save them the time spent reading the book themselves when you can simply dump a synopsis in your review.
HERE BE SPOILERS…
The customer is always right
And the customer is you. You rule, authors drool. No matter what your complaint about a book you read, nothing anyone says can compare. Remember this rule, because you’ll be forced to defend it at times. But push all those little authors under your feet and stand atop them as tall and proud as you deserve to be. The book was too expensive, the research was bunk, the author shouldn’t have named the characters that, and the cliff-hanger ending was lame. The reader knows best. So you are right. Always, always right.
Can anyone leave a comment here that might help me to be inspired to read any more of this story? Go ahead, tell me where the plot goes in the comments…Oh, and I just have to point out a few technical issues…Geesh. Better stop ranting, huh? This book is very weak…Even if you get this one for free, “buyer beware” is my advise (i.e., don’t bother).
Review like a five-year old
The best thing to do in your shaming review is to lecture an author about their editing as if you have the writing ability of a Kindergartener. This gets your point across rather well. People love kids, right? Plus, if the book wasn’t written perfectly, why should you bother to leave your review with anything less than unreadable words? Pffft, review legibility is so overrated when the book already sucked.
l hated the book.l would give it a 1 star.
it didn’t tell me where to start.it didn’t tell
me about the story it gost telled about dog’s
l dilated it from my reader it was horebol
Be King of the Trolls
You hated a book so much that it made you homicidal, but since you’re afraid of going to jail for the rest of your life, your best bet for revenge is to hit up the author’s other works with a bunch of low reviews. And make them mean. You didn’t like one, so it’s totally impossible that you would like the others, even if they are totally different books. And while at it, downvote all the good reviews and leave nasty comments on them because clearly those readers didn’t read the same book you did. This is a no-brainer. Troll away!
Read and review everything, Even the genres you hate
You LOVE thrillers, but you can’t be a high-ranking Reviewing God unless you read the paranormal erotica, sci-fi and cozy mysteries too. Don’t bother reading the blurbs for your titles beforehand because if the book is not what you expected, it’s obviously the author’s fault, not yours. Grab up all the books you can, regardless of genre, description, price or length, because if it’s published, surely the book is meant for you to read, right?
It did not take long for me to realize that somehow, I mistakenly got this book while searching for Christian fiction. I deleted it.
The book you just finished was so awful you are certain that you could do it better yourself, so make that clear with the author by telling them what they did wrong, and how you could do it right. They are obviously not the professional if they didn’t write the plot the way you wanted it to go. You’ve been reading Paranormal Romance for twenty years. YOU know exactly what should’ve been in that vampire series. Where’s your pen and paper?
Bland characters, boring plot. Here’s a test. If I moved all the action to the local coffee shop and replaced the dogs with, let’s say, donuts, would I have the same book? Yes.
Be A sneaky bastard
You heard about this book and went online to check it out and saw that it has a bunch of glowing 5 star reviews. It appears that most of the readers loved the book more than their cats, but that’s not possible, is it? The author must have paid for all those fake positive reviews. Surely the book has flaws, and the description isn’t totally earth-shattering to you, so go ahead and give it a big fat 1 star with the words, ‘I won’t even bother reading this book.’ Or better yet, lie. Say you did, but you couldn’t finish it. You won’t be the first person to do that, but hey, at least your point was made.
Didn’t read it.
Bitch about the price
The first book in a series was free for your Kindle, so why the hell would the author charge $3 or even $5 for the follow ups? Are they crazy, or just plain greedy? I mean, that’s an entire coffee to-go right there! And we all know that authors are swimming in the Benjamins. Sure, you really liked the first book, even left a full in-depth review all about the plot when it came out just to help the lowly readers considering what to read next, but you were expecting the second book to be free too. What are you supposed to do now? Don’t go down without a fight. There’s a plethora of pirating sites where you can surely find an illegally downloaded copy of this allusive second book, but the chances are high you’ll have to input your credit card info and possibly have it stolen in the future, or that you might download a nasty ass virus onto your computer instead of the book file. Hmmm…decisions, decisions.
I got the first book of this series free, and after reading it and coming to the cliff hanger ending it had, I decided to buy this book to see what happens…The very obvious attempts to try to get people to keep sending her money by purchasing each installment is obnoxious to me.
And there you have it – the Jerk Reviewer’s Basic Guide 1.0 to leaving a killer bad review. Or, in other words, the list of what NOT to do if you regularly read and review books. Unless you don’t mind being the kind of reviewer most authors would rather not have as readers at all. Because in truth, like said above, reading is about entertainment. It’s an escape from life, and if a book just doesn’t do it for ya, perhaps you are reading the wrong things. I encourage my readers to leave honest and spoiler-free reviews, but it’s not my job to ask people to be tactful or remember that writers are people too. When it comes down to it, us writers love writing and love our loyal readers. We want to keep you happy. Truly, we do.
Obviously this post was dripping with sarcasm in parts, and makes a mockery of a very valid issue. Why? Because if I can read my one star reviews or those of my writer friends and survive – laugh even – then I’ve lived another day worth living. And I’ll continue to do my best, writing another book worth reading.
Happy reading (and reviewing), everyone!