Everyone likes something different. Whether you enjoy reading romance or erotica, science fiction, action, psychological thrillers, suspense, murder and mayhem--no matter what, there is a genre out there for you!
When you're a writer, you have certain subjects you like to delve into and depending on the story you're concocting and how a character speaks to you, depends greatly on how that story is going to turn out. Recently, I've been on a kick about the games publishers and authors play in the writing industry, but today, I'm focusing on the reading consumer.
Before I select a book, especially if I'm not sure what subject I want to read next, I usually start with the reviews to get a general sense of what the reading community feels about it. I like to read the bad reviews first and work my way through to the good ones. And I have to say, this has proven to be a rather difficult task and I'm going to explain those to you now.
It really boggles my mind when I read reviewers' comments about a character's language. Some don't like when characters use profanity or if the book has too many spicy scenes of sex (although not many people thought that way about Fifty Shades of Grey), but nonetheless, everyone has something they've got to say about a particular book.
Here's my question for those of you who don't like profanity. In most writers' synopses, usually there are clues as to what type of story you're about to read, and if you gleamed that from the synopsis, why the hell do you get an attitude because an author's character uses profanity? Some readers have gone so far as to complain to the author and say how much they would like them to take the cuss words out. And the travesty to that is, there are some authors who take those comments to heart and actually rewrite their novel.
This is where I differ from those authors. I don't give a damn what anyone thinks about the characters I've written. If that character speaks to me in his/her own language, that's exactly what I'm going to write, and if that offends some people, well then my book isn't for you. But I'll be damned if I rewrite my book to suit the tastes of some readers. When you allow your viewing audience to dictate what type of writer you will be, then you compromise yourself and your identity, and I will never do that for anyone. I refuse to give that kind of power to my reading audience. I'm a writer in my own right and I'll put down what my characters tell me to say. But you, the reader, do not get to tell me how to write my story. If you want a clean wholesome book, then I suggest you try Christian books or better yet, write your own damn story, but don't tell an author what to take out of his book. I'm not going to let a reader have that one!
I'm a very critical reviewer and I know this about myself. The language a character uses doesn't bother me so much, but what I want to know is was the story good, were the characters strong, did the story flow, that sort of thing. But to tell an author to take out the profanity a character may use, I think you've got balls to ask an author to do that! We take creative licenses and it's just what we writers do, but the reader, to me is way out of line to ask an author to change their writing style because that's exactly what you're asking the writer to do. WARNING! If you read my novels, get ready cause you're going to get a little of everything in there, so read at your own risk! (chuckle).
I read a review one time on a particular sci-fi book I was reading and this person went on an on about how there were certain things they felt didn't feel real and how they hated the science edge to it, etc., and I'm sitting there reading that thinking it's a sci-fi book moron, so why the hell are you mad at the author for writing it, when the synopsis told you exactly what the book was about? To sit and take the time to write a nasty review of someone's book, especially when you knew going in what type of book it was, how the hell do you get an attitude about it when this should not have come as any surprise to you?
For instance, it's no secret I do not like romance novels. And before anyone says, "your first book was a romance novel," trust me, I get it and from a business standpoint, this is why I wrote it because it's the largest genre in the writing industry and the most lucrative--mama didn't raise a foolish author, although some of you may disagree, but you get my point! At any rate, my mother, on the other hand, is a huge romance/erotica fan. The nastier the better for her and I think that's great. For me to read one of her erotica novels and then give it a bad review and tell the author, "well the book would have been even better had you removed the romance from it," makes me look like a damn idiot, but trust me, I've read reviews just like that. The point is, if you don't like romance novels, why the hell would you read that genre, and then turn around and write a very negative and vulgar review to the author, knowing it wasn't your type of book to begin with?
I don't get some of you readers out here. That just boggles my mind. There are plenty of reality shows on television I absolutely abhor, and I think should be removed from the viewing audience, but guess what, I have a remote control that changes channels. If I don't like something, I switch to something else. The same applies with reading, Folks! If you don't like a particular genre, then that's all well and good, so don't read those types of books but if you knowingly read it and then go to the author's page and write all this negative stuff about the book, to me, you make yourself look like an ass doing that, and it's not fair to other readers either.
And while I'm on the subject of reviews there's a huge difference between telling an author how you feel about a book and being downright cruel and insensitive. When I say a huge difference, that's exactly what I mean! Some of you readers can be downright vicious when it comes to how you felt about a book. At least when I'm giving an honest review, I state how a story made me feel, but some of you attack the author, going for the damn jugular vein and eventually the kill. That is totally unacceptable and not right at all. It's so easy for anyone to pick up a book and literally pick the book apart. If you think it's so damn easy to write a book, good luck with that and I wish you the absolute best. When you put your words in print for the world to see, you're putting your whole being out there. Authors leave themselves open and it takes a tough exterior to deal with that. My critiques are never to put an author down, it's to basically let them know how their words impacted me. But to say rude and hurtful things to the author, I do not partake in that nor do I endorse that behavior. That's wrong!!!! Some of you really need to check yourselves on that!
Listen, I know when you're an avid reader and there are many of us out here, I get that you want to share your enthusiasm with the author and the world. I love to give my opinion on books because that's part of the charm and fun of reading, but be careful when you call yourselves giving constructed criticism because that can turn into destructive criticism and that defeats the entire purpose! Authors learn as they go and usually get better with each book, if they truly have the gift, and readers have to be somewhat patient and understanding of this. These authors spent countless hours, months and years constructing a story for you to enjoy, and although I don't always like the books I read, I try to be encouraging, even if the story turned out to be a dud. You don't have to be evil about giving a review. Writing is not easy to do, and like I've told you before, anyone who says it's a piece of cake, isn't a real writer. And yes, I can say that with authority because I am an author. I've dealt with negative reviews and the nasty comments, but it comes with the business.
And what Authors have to remember, when you receive negative comments or vulgar ones, the worst thing you could ever do is to play into it. You need to be graceful in your responses, if you so choose to answer your readers. I always responded to my readers whether I received a good or bad review. I want people to know I appreciate they purchased my books and I let them know. I don't play into the negative comments back and forth--that will get you nothing but an upset stomach and headache. It's not worth giving in to those who are out to be cruel to you. Unfortunately, those people read too, and you have to develop a thick skin or else get out of the game.
I encourage everyone to read. It's the best form of exercise for your mind. Just remember, pick books you enjoy reading, write helpful reviews for other readers and be honest in a kind way without appearing as though you're attacking the author. You wouldn't want anyone doing that to you, so put yourself in the author's shoes before you write those very ignorant and rude reviews.
Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet
An Act of Kindness goes a Long Way!