There has been a lot of discussion in the groups I belong to and across the web about people who leave “troll reviews”. This term has earned its meaning from the number of hateful reviews, often from those who’ve never even read the book for which they are reviewing, and from those possibly looking to promote themselves through negative attention.
There is a difference between constructive criticism and just spewing hatred for a book. If the reader is interested in taking time to provide a review without ill intent, the constructive review provides likes and dislikes that can help an author improve. I personally appreciate when a reader does this, with the full understanding not everyone is going to like what I write.
As a serious author, I have a responsibility to readers to put out the best written story I can, if I’m charging for it. That means hiring an editor, cover artist, taking classes to improve, etc. so my readers feel they are getting the most for their money and time. However, in the case of a poorly written book, overall, if a reader feels it necessary to leave feedback, be honest but not ugly. IMO, this is what defines a “troll” review from an honest review. In the case where ‘trolls’ leave reviews and have never read the book (some even claiming in the review never to have read it), there is no justification for tearing someone down in that manner. This is the problem authors are referring to.
I’ve purchased a couple of books from indi authors that I just couldn’t get through the first chapter. I skim to see if there is anything salvageable and instead of leaving bad reviews opt for the old adage, if I can’t find anything nice to say, I don’t say anything at all.
In a world where people are often stressed out and careless towards others, it is many times easier to place negativity into a review in the hopes that in passing along the reviewers bad feelings it will make them feel better by tearing someone else down. It doesn’t. So they move on to the next negative opinion, and so on and so on. Or perhaps the reviewer leaves the negative review to draw attention to themselves in an effort to promote their name. I recognize promotion value in all its forms. But for some, being hateful is okay for self-promotion. People are talking about them after all and the ugliness a troll reviewer has just spewed on an unsuspecting author who loves their work. What happened to “you get further with honey than vinegar”? Maybe honey isn’t selling as well as it used to. But for the reviews I get that reflect constructive criticism, I will often thank the reviewer because that reader took the time to reflect what they liked and didn’t like. It’s constructive and appreciated, whether I agree with all aspects of the review or not.
As a reviewer of any type of product, ask yourself what you expect from your review. Is it to provide honest, worthwhile feedback that may help someone improve a service/product for the value of your time, money or experience? Or, is your intent to spew hatred? In that case, the world has enough ugliness. Why contribute more? Then again, I suppose I’m biased to the constructive critique. After all, I tend to give in to my ‘sweet tooth’ as opposed to the saltier side, given the option. 😉