There's a lot of stuff going on lately with self publishing and some authors publishing with smaller publishers, so rather than hijack someone else's post I thought I'd just create my own post and share my humble opinion on what I've been reading, so here it is for what it's worth...
I think part of the problem with the self published authors is a little thing that I like to think of as American idol Syndrome. Now I'll try and explain what exactly I mean by this...
Have you ever watched the shows at the very beginning of American Idol where they go from city to city looking for contestants and you see so many people try out who think they are amazing and when they open their mouths we all found out what their mamma's should have told them "Sweetie, you can't sing. So don't be making a fool of yourself on national television."
Just because a person opens their mouth and sound comes out doesn't mean they are singing well and that the whole world wants to hear them. Well the same thing applies to writing just because a person commits ink to paper (literally or figuratively speaking) doesn't mean it's good.
When you publish independently you don't have anyone to tell you that what you've written really, really sucks and that people for the most part aren't going to like it. A lot of times from what I'm hearing and reading in different places people who publish independently are using friends and family to beta their books or do any kind of editing and even if they are brave enough to be honest with the author, really, what decent person wants to be the one to dash the dreams of those we love by telling then the truth and saying "Sorry love, but if this was in a book store I wouldn't buy it.". Although given some of the behavior we've seen from these authors the question might also be if someone was brave enough to tell them, would they listen?
I guess it comes down to just because you can, doesn't mean you should or that you do it well. And at the end of the day it also comes down to the fact that as the author of course you think you've just written the next great literary classic, but it doesn't obligate the rest of the world to think that and it doesn't mean we're bullies if we don't. It just means our opinions differ from yours and we have the right to our opinions just like you do, just like you have the right to sell your book, we have the right to not buy it. So please dear author, recognize that competition for our opinion and our money is strong insulting us, threatening to sue us for a bad review, harassing us on our discussion threads and doing any of the myriad of other things that I've seen happening will not endear you to us and if anything will alienate even more potential readers/customers from you.
I've seen lots of books with 1 or 2 star reviews, hell I've read some of them, I've even done some of those 1 or 2 star reviews, sorry I'm not your mamma, I don't have to tell you I like it when I don't or why I don't like it, I gave James Patterson a 1 star review and didn't blink twice so why would I do less and varnish the truth for you when I didn't for a tried and proven author? An author who I read and like still, the man wrote one book that I didn't like, the world didn't end.
Most books get the occasional low rating and/or bad review because not every person likes the same thing. So a 5 star review for me is probably going to be a 1 or 2 star review for someone else. Maybe even someone that I'm friends with. Does it mean I'm going to get mad at them? Pick a fight with them? No, I'm probably going to tell them, I'm sorry the book wasn't a good read for them and if it's an author that I really, really like I may even suggest they try another title that I hope will be better suited to their taste and if they don't want to? No biggie that's life right? Different strokes for different folks and on we go to the next story.
I don't think I'm alone in my opinion of what 1 or 2 star reviews mean, they may be a bit of a caution sign but if I really want to read a book and it appeals to me that strongly I'll do it. I have done it and yes, I have to admit that on occasion I've wished I hadn't but again that's ok, because it was my choice to still buy and read that book and if nothing else the bad reads just make me enjoy the good ones all the more.
I know of one particular thread that has come up on a site because an author got a 3 star rating, no review. She wanted a review, I mean she really wanted a review. To the point where her behavior has become excessive in response to the fact that she didn't get one. Accusing people of bullying and something about a gang bang, I wonder is she understands that a gang bang is essentially consensual, it's really just another term for an orgy. Maybe as an author it would have helped to give her credibility if she had used the term gang rape, that's non-consensual so probably more appropriate to her point, but still a bit overboard in the reaction department.
And yet, all this over a 3 star rating without a review? A bit much don't you think? All I can say is I'm sorry sweetie, you chose to self-publish. Your readers aren't obligated to do anything other than acquire your book through legal means and then read it when and if they want too. That's it, nothing more. So if you don't like that rating or review well to quote someone I know and love "suck it up, buttercup."
I think the last thing I want to express my view on is the reviews that some authors state attack them personally and don't address the readers dislike of the book. Honestly, if I see a review that has things in it such as "this person needs to go back to school and learn how to write", I use this example because I did come across something along that line once. I don't remember who the author was or the book title for 2 reasons 1. it was a long time ago and 2. at that point I quite reading the review and gave the person no cred in terms of their review having any validity because to me it was a childish statement.
If you want to tell me that the book is poorly edited, the grammar is bad, the plot is full of holes or inconsistencies, the story line is erratic or any other plethora of potential issues I will read your review and it will probably factor in to my consideration of whether or not to read that book. It will not make my decision for me, not even the best review in the world will do that because my decision is mine and good or bad I refuse to give someone else the power to think for me and if I read 1 review and say ok that's it not reading this book that's what I 'm doing I'm letting someone else think for me.
I can't speak for everyone else but my father taught me a few things that I've found to be useful in navigating this world and I've always tried to remember them, things like don't let someone else do your thinking for you, that the world doesn't owe you anything and if you want respect you have to earn it and give it, people will treat you as poorly as you let them and you have to be willing to set the example on how you want to be treated by how you treat others.
So dear self-publishing authors, just because you wrote a book doesn't mean the world is obligated to even give you the time of day about it, much less read it and garner you with stars for it's excellence and if you want readers and reviewers to respect you as an author, please remember to respect us as a reviewer and/or reader. You don't have to like our opinions but you have to respect that we are entitled to them and that those who express them in a less than respectful way to you will probably end up being ignored or losing validity in their reviews just as you do as an author when you behave in a less than professional, mature and respectful manner. There should be no double standards in that regard, respect is a 2 way street and we all need to travel it together. But this is just My Humble Opinion and nothing more.