Snark Attack by Jill Sorenson
Like most Romanceland regulars, I listen to gossip, follow kerfuffles, and read snarky reviews. I’ve never been called a “mean girl” to my face, but as an author who reviews, I might be considered one. Online reviewing is fraught with controversy. I like that about it! Well, sometimes.
Jessica of Read React Review wrote an excellent article about Mean Girls. Has of Book Pushers also spoke out against the “Be Nice” brigade, in response to the backlash over author Jennifer Armintrout’s snarky criticisms of 50 Shades of Grey.
I didn’t read Armintrout’s post, so I’m not going to comment on the specifics of it. I’m more interested in the larger issues. Should authors write snarky reviews? Are some reviewing styles off-limits?
Although I love a sharp wit, there is a certain type of review that I try to avoid. It’s the tightly focused, chapter-by-chapter or line-by-line analysis, with extended snark. Here is a recent example from a guest reviewer at Dear Author.
This kind of review falls into tl;dr* territory for me. I’m just not interested in so much detail. There is also an agenda if the reviewer chooses a book for the purpose of ridiculing it. Bad dialogue and ridiculous plot points are highlighted to entertain the audience. Is it fair? Sure. No one can make fun of flaws that aren’t there! But it doesn’t mimic a normal, open-minded reading experience for me. I prefer for snark to come…organically, when a reviewer finds a story they dislike on accident.
I’m not trying to tell reviewers what to do. Many, many readers enjoy this reviewing style. As an author, I’d be flattered to have my book examined in such depth. I think I’d be a good sport about it. As a reader, it’s just not for me.
Would I recommend that authors write reviews like this? No. Again, this is just my opinion, not a call for niceness or an attempt to silence my peers. I love author reviews! Most authors keep it positive and that’s fine by me. Thoughtful criticism is great. Snark-as-entertainment is tougher to get behind. Coming from another author, it can sting more.
Here’s a personal example. I remember how excited I was to see the cover of my first book, Dangerous to Touch. My husband said that the heroine’s dress and jewel placement reminded him of, ah, female anatomy. Not the words he used. Anyway, we laughed together and I hoped no one else would notice. I loved the vibrant colors, and the fact that the hero actually looks Mexican-American. I posted it on an author loop with pride. Someone (I don’t remember who) said: Nice, but why is there snot hanging out of the hero’s nose?
My husband’s comment about ladyparts was hilarious! This fellow author’s joke? Not funny. Not at all.
*tl;dr = too long; didn’t read
And I’m curious. What do you think of all this? Have an opinion? Where is your “line”? And have you caught all the numerous (or even innumerable) kerfluffles since January? It’s been a crazy year for sure!