Saturday, April 1, 2017

Life of a Reviewer

I review a lot of things. I am currently a level 5 contributor, out of 6, on Trip Advisor and rank first for my town. I am an active reviewer on both Amazon and Google, providing in-depth analysis of the things I am reviewing. This has lead to some interesting, and sometimes disturbing, realizations.

Because of the detail of my reviews people have started contacting me to review their works. I don't accept every offer, but those I do spell out the expectations. The biggest one is that I will provide an honest and real review. I don't write ego boosts, that's for the marketing and public relations people, I don't let the author or seller dictate what they want me to say, and I never guarantee that a review will be 5 stars.

Each person eagerly agrees to the terms before the review is written. The surprising part for me is how shocked the people who asked for an "honest" review are once the review is written. Here are some of the more interesting comments I've received.

"You didn't rate it 5 stars. That's not honest." - This person seems to have confused the meaning of the word honest with the word fake. He whined but I refused to change it.

"You can't write it like that. Here is how you were supposed to write it." - This person was wanted me to publish a press release as a review. A press release is for marketing your work. A review is an assessment of that work. They aren't the same thing. After this one, I added "will not allow anyone to tell me what to write" to the list of conditions.

"You no write give bad review. Fix it." - The entire book was written in broken English. In the review, I did give him credit for trying to write a book in a language that obviously wasn't his first. Writing in any language is tough. Writing a language that you don't speak fluently is even harder. If you must do this, then write the story in your language and hire a translator to help you change it over. Don't rely on Google Translate or a language dictionary. Language has nuances that can't be understood if you are relying only on a straight word for word translation.

"You ruined me. You gave me 4 stars (out of 5)." - This was one of the first complaints I had ever received. It still makes me laugh. Who complains about a good review? Oddly enough the book already had 30 or 40 reviews on it so my one review wasn't really going to change much anyway.

"You give bad review. Now I depressed. You no fix I no live." - This guy wrote me a whole saga about how he spent 2 months writing a children's book and how the images weren't photoshopped because he used a software program to create them. Because of the implied threat to his own life, I did delete the review. I also reported him to Amazon and recommended that all of his works be removed. If the threat was real then writing is not a good career choice for this guy. If it wasn't then this was a really manipulative move and he deserves to lose his status as an author.

Reviewing is subjective and not everyone will agree. This is why I try to provide real reviews so that readers will understand why I did or did not like something. Anything less and the review is useless.

Are you a reviewer? Have a story about a review that went sideways? Share in the comments.