“Have you read this yet?” emails a friend of mine seeking an opinion on a book he was considering reading. The message contains a link to a fantasy book (self-published) on Amazon. I follow the link and, within five minutes, decide that the book probably won’t be going on my reading list any time soon.
The reason? All the reviews, save one, were nothing but hype. Lots of OMGs (often with lots of trailing exclamation points). Lots of people proclaiming the book as the “best” thing they’ve read in years. But no real reviews of the book. It was just post after post of nebulous praise. I bet the author called in every favor from every friend she had to accomplish this task. At least, that’s the way it seems. After all, if the book is so good, the “best” thing in years, why did it have to be self-published? Not saying it isn’t good, and not that publishers don’t make mistakes and pass on good books, just saying that it is not likely to be the “best” book writen in years.
There was only one serious review that actually talked about the content of the book. It was the only review that mentioned characters by name, discussed the plot, and showed any semblance of being written by someone who actually read the novel cover to cover with an objective eye.
It wasn’t a bad review, calling the book an average representation of self-published literature, but did point out that the grammar was poor in a lot of spots. The author of this review said they picked up the book solely because of all the good reviews only to be disappointed. The free except provide by the author herself even proves the reviewer’s point about poor grammar and misspellings. Yet, every glowing review after that assaulted the serious reviewer as “mean” or some such thing while going back to genericly praising the book as oh so great without one example of why it was worthy.
So, in my opinion, what we have here is a perfect example of people kissing ass to the author. I don’t exactly know their true reasons why, but it seems obvious to me that there is an attempt going on to make the book sound better than it really is ala Fifty Shades of Grey. Although, thankfully, this campaign has been far less successful. I far more respect the lone, serious reviewer, than those who are hurling OMGS! of praise for the author’s work because the reviewer was obviously serious in reviewing the book.
When I see this sort of thing going on, nothing but mindless, ass kissing praise for a book, I take the serious reviewers much more, well, seriously. Much more so than those that have obviously been coerced into saying something in return for something else. In fact, just for giggles, I started looking up the commenters on Amazon and realized, surprise, surprise, that they were almost all self-published authors themselves. And, even more not surprisingly, their comment sections were filled with the same over the top, general praise for their books from the exact same set of commenters who were passing themselves off as reviewers in the previous book’s comment section. It was even more hilarious to see that some of the reviews, again, laden with OMGS! about how [insert book here] was so great, were simply copied and pasted under multiple books.
So now I am able to scrtach all those other titles off my to read list too if ever anyone suggests them to me.
This all goes back to things I have talked about before. Getting honest praise, or critism, of your work up front would negate the need to seek out kiss asses later on to make you sound like the next greatest writer of all time.