When is a Review not a Review?

Over on Twitter for the last week or so, there’s been a lot of talk about reviews. Good ones, bad ones, funny ones, ones that may or may not be justified.

Now, the general consensus goes that an author must never respond to a bad review. They’re a fact of life (whatever kind of creative you are, if you put your stuff out there, someone is going to hate it), and you’ve just got to deal with them. We don’t all like the same stuff, get over it, etc.

You so know there’s a ‘but’ coming.

These days, fan entitlement has become a Thing – we’ve all seen it. And it’s aimed at everything, from the biggest blockbuster movies all the way down to us humble mortals. If the offered creative doesn’t match exactly the individual’s politics, or headcanon, or expectations, then the kickback can be scathing and horrifically vindictive.

And there’s a fine line between a review and an attack.

You may not like an author’s book, or politics, or style, or swearwords, or their use of a pronoun with which you don’t agree. You may think their work is so godawful that it had no right to be published at all. You may read scenes that are not to your liking, or that create an adverse emotional reaction. These things are your right and prerogative. You’re perfectly entitled to hate a book, to give it a bad review and one star – that’s all fine.

But you DON’T verbally assault, judge and bully someone because of it. You don’t call their personality, their professionalism, their integrity, their sexuality, or anything else, into question because of it. Please, remember, whether you liked the book or not, a great deal of effort went into its creation – author, agent, editors, cover artists, publicists. Please, remember that an author is not necessarily what they write – we’re actors, we present characters on paper, facets of humanity (and otherwise) that may not be ourselves. Please, remember that we are people too…

A personal attack is a personal attack.

It is not a review.

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