eBook Reviews: Rude or Truthful?

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With the advent of eReading, eBooks, and any other number of eThings the world of publishing has been shaken. Not destroyed and not completely changed but it is different. In many ways, the publishing industry is exactly the same as it has always been with some restructuring of the business model shifting.

No longer does an author have to beg or sell their soul to a big corporation to get published. An author can create, edit, and produce their work online without needing to go through the red tape of traditional publishing. This sounds like the exposition just before ‘happily ever after’ scrolls up the screen followed by the credits. However this is not always the case.

As with any degree of freedom in a system this open online market outlet for eBooks has created a dark abomination of indie produced content. Not to say that all ‘indie’ titles are necessarily bad reading, but there has been a sudden influx of terrible literature released onto the marketplace. This just happens to be considered ‘indie’ since it wasn’t put out by a company.

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Because of the total lack of oversight for eBooks being created through distributors like Amazon, Smashwords, and D2D there has been several thousand or more just awful things published in recent years. Authors who never passed 3rd grade finally putting their World of Warcraft fan fiction into print, children’s authors who have never met any kids writing inappropriate chapter books, and lonely internet creepers putting their delusional fantasies about their chat room girlfriends into erotic novels.

It all sounds really great… Okay, maybe it doesn’t sound great. And then you read most of them… and they are worse than you thought possible.

The real problem is for every hundred terrible eNovels there is at least one truly great story from an author who just needs a push in the right direction. So then, how is the community of consumers supposed to encourage, teach, and guide that one out of a hundred? By giving honest reviews.

So what’s the big deal cry-baby?” you ask yourself. “This guy is just rambling on for no reason,” you add.

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The big deal is the ease with which the review system is broken. Too often novels are given rave reviews because the author is indie, young, old, pretty, ugly, rich, poor, or you just feel bad for them. I have seen reviews that danced around huge glaring issues just to complement a single tiny detail.

I hate it. Understandably you should give credit where it’s due and you should always try to find some good and bad in a review. The problem comes in when everyone only complements the book and gives no negative feedback. So I fill that gap in content by being as true to what I think as possible.

Now here is my question—am I rudely honest or honestly rude?

Every time I publish a bad review I hide in bed from the internet for day. I watch my email and comments page like a gerbil that just dropped acid. Paranoid that at anytime, the internet police will breakdown my ISP and start troll-shaming me.

Am I overreacting? Am I a troll?

No one is perfect on their first, second, or even fiftieth try. Without some constructive criticism given I am afraid the self-publishing world could completely breakdown on itself hurting even the good authors. We as consumers, fellow artists, and internet citizens owe it to our community to self regulate one another. If we don’t stay united on this front then we let the whole system fail.

So stand tall, hold firm, and keep those reviews honest.

Image by Jean Guillaume Le Roux

Image by Jean Guillaume Le Roux

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