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Reviews: Don’t Get Personal

March 9, 2012

I want to touch on reviews just once more, and then I think I’ll have said everything I can say on the topic.

Oftentimes, authors are told reviews aren’t personal. They’re comments about a product. And while I am 100% behind this thought process, I also say that yes, reviews can be personal. I try to always look at a review objectively. A personal review is usually pretty easy to spot. They tend to say something about the author personally. I had one such review recently, and I immediately wanted to say something to that reader.

What did they say?

They made an assumption about my own sexual orientation based on the story I wrote. I had to be straight to write two lesbians having sex with a male for procreative and political purposes. Excuse me? No, that’s a personal comment that had no place in any review. Comments about an author’s sexuality, their personal life, their political beliefs, ANYTHING that isn’t in that book makes a review personal. A reader makes such an assumption, I am going to take it personally.

And I should. This person doesn’t know me from Jack. My bio says I’m married, but that doesn’t make me straight. And, even if it did, it doesn’t devalue my story about a lesbian couple who are put between a rock and a hard place. It’s insulting, and I have every right to be insulted. It’s not cool. It’s offensive, and I’ve the right to be offended by it. It’s a bad review regardless of anything they had to say about the story itself because the preface the review with a comment on my ability to write lesbians due to my perceived sexuality.

Readers/reviewers? Please, don’t do that. I’m happy to get a negative review that talks about the voice, the characterization, the plot, the cover, the editing, the pacing… but not one that includes reference to my own sexuality that has nothing to do with the story itself. My religion, political views, personal life? Those are hands-off topics in a book review. Don’t make the reviews personal if you don’t want me to take the reviews personally.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. scj permalink
    March 9, 2012 9:11 am

    In my opinion, as a reader, it is entirely possible to be honest in a review without being disrespectful. Making comments on any aspect of an author’s personal life is so far past disrespectful it’s not even funny. You have every right to take offence with this review. Unfortunately, I think some people believe that when they buy a book they also buy the right to abuse the author.

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