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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Bashing an author or book in a review: is it ever justified?




Dictionary.com defines bash as this: to strike with a crushing or smashing blow. Another definition I saw included the word violently.

Some reviewers are fond of bashing, be it about the author and/or book. They feel it is their right and that there's nothing an author can do about it. This attitude makes legitimate book bloggers look bad. In any case, we do not accept that attitude here at the crew.

There is no bashing.

Now, with author bashing there is absolutely no wiggle room. There is no justifiable reason I can think of to say something negative about an author that isn't about the book. If you have something legitimate to say about an author, go rant about it in a blog post, not in a book review.

I don't care if it's true or not. You could have solid evidence that the author kills puppies in front of children, but it doesn't have a place in a book review. (Unless the author writes horror ... nevermind that inappropriate tangent.) The point is this: we do not allow author bashing at the crew.

Book Bashing—what about that?


Book bashing is a little different, but we still don't allow it. Let me explain.

The word bash carries a negative connotation. The intention of the basher (I checked; it's a word) is to do harm. In fact, a British/Canadian use of the word also carries the meaning to hurl harsh verbal abuse at.

There is a definable difference between a critical review and one that simply trashes a book, effectively only slinging mud around. We are not mudslingers at the Masquerade Crew.

For example, a reviewer might use the phrase "this is one of the worst books I've ever read." First of all, I question the use of this phrase even in a proper, critical review, but for demonstration purposes, if this is all a reviewer says, I would consider it book bashing. After all, you aren't helping the writer or a potential reader.

But if such a phrase is explained, it may or may not be book bashing anymore. If something constructive can be gleamed from a negative review, then it's most likely not book bashing. A writer might learn from it, deciding to alter their technique in their next book, especially if enough people mention it.

A specific, critical statement will warn potential readers ... and more importantly, specific potential readers.

For example, a reviewer might be critical of a whinny character. Potential readers that don't like characters that are constantly sobbing about their problems will be steered away—that's a good thing.

Those potential readers that don't mind whinning, perhaps even feel for a character in these situations, won't necessarily be detered from such negativity. In fact, they might pick up the book because of such a critical review.

How many times have you read a negative review for a movie and wanted to see it anyway, perhaps even because of the review?

Same goes with books ... as long as the negativity is explained.

I personally read every negative review that comes across my virtual desk. DeeJay and I have already spotted a few we didn't accept. The reviews were altered. Then they were approved.

Not saying we won't make mistakes. But if we see it and recognize it for what it is, we will stop it before it goes any further.

Disclaimer: we have no control over what a reviewer posts on their own blog or what they personally post on third party sites. Gladly we haven't had to do it, but we would kick someone off the crew if necessary.

The point is we don't allow bashing.

What's your take on all of this?

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