An Open Letter to Readers who use Reviews as Punishment

Let me start off by saying that I adore my readers. I am in love with any person who takes time out of their schedule to pick up one of my stories and spend even the shortest amount of time in my worlds with my characters. As an author I love reviews, I love hearing about what you liked and even what you didn’t like about my stories, because most of the time we’re on the same page. But when your reviews become punishments for your personal preferences (the story wasn’t long enough, it wasn’t written in a style I liked, the woman on the cover is too light-skinned etc), they become a problem that affect me as an author and you as a reader of my future work.

Reviews are lifeblood for authors. They effect algorithms that put our books in front of more people and they give you, the reader, a voice when it comes to our work. But in this age of social media and being able to anonymously vomit opinions onto the internet, it’s becoming a trend to mindlessly bash, attack and demean authors and their work via “reviews”. Which is not okay, especially if you LIKE said work.

Yes, a review, whether positive or negative is your right as a reader to leave. But not reading descriptions and going on to leave off-base negative reviews on work that someone slaved over is just plain wrong. If you’re going to leave a review, at least have an informed opinion about the product. Because while it may have taken you ten seconds in a fit of anger to write, it will haunt and affect that authors career and future work for a lifetime. Let’s put it this way: if you worked hard on building a toaster and I told people not to buy it (by leaving a one star review) because it wasn’t a refrigerator, you would probably be upset.

Take for example my most recent Dragon God Erotic series. It’s my first real foray into the erotic short hemisphere and I genuinely enjoyed writing these four short stories. That being said, plenty of people are responding positively to them as well. Like all erotic stories they are meant to tease, to stir up emotion and get the blood pumping. They’re not really something you sink your teeth into story wise. But I pride myself on my world building and my character creation which means you’re going to get a bit of both in anything I write. Even if it’s only 8k words. And most of my readers new and old understand that.

Except for a few reviewers who don’t seem to get that they are not full length novels. I use the description and the “from the author” section of the amazon page to explain that they are indeed short stories. Amazon even has a handy little section beneath the description that tells you the page length of kindle books. You have plenty of warning before you buy and start reading the work. You even have the option of refunding the title.

That being said, why leave a negative review behind on a story that you admittedly like but want to see more of? That’s really not going to make me, or any author want to keep putting themselves in a position to be exposed to such devastation. And it’s not going to help the stories you love see continuations or expansion either. Quite the opposite, actually.

I said all of this to say that, reviews are wonderful things, ESPECIALLY when they are scathing and pointing out every plothole, annoying character, flaw and instance of purple prose. But when they are used simply to lash out at an author, to punish them because something didn’t go your way, they’re really affecting us both negatively. So I implore you, be constructive, but think before you review.

Thank you,

A.C. Greenlee

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