As an author, I accept the fact that not everyone will enjoy my books. I feel the same way about other writers. But what some of us are finding are people who purposely set out to destroy another author’s standing. If I write a review of a book, I am very honest about its strengths and weaknesses. I point out where it failed, but I also discuss the author’s successes, and I never do it in a mean spirited way.
However, other reviewers we see on sites such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, etc., are not that responsible. Do you know, for example, about Amazon’s Vine program? It is a wonderful way for readers to receive advanced copies of books to be reviewed by them. However, one of the drawbacks of this program is a system of rating the reviewers. You know how it is. On Amazon, you can mark “yes” or “no” if a review is helpful. Some Vine reviewers are reporting that others are marking all their reviews with a “no” because there is some sort of competition among the reviewers to get into the top 1000. Those top 1000 reviewers get a symbol beside their reviews to indicate their status. Even a recent message board discussed this problem. There are also online groups who play a game of targeting a particular author with poor reviews; therefore, destroying the writer’s chances of another book deal.
Then there are those who write a review for the purpose of showing how clever they are.
There are those who criticize any book with sexual content or the amount of profanity found within. I agree that there should be some sort of rating system to warns a person about the sexual content or the use of curse words, but if that was all upon which one bases his review, then it is too narrow in scope. And then there are those from aspiring authors who wish they thought of the idea first, but tear it down, none the less.
What I am saying is that just because a person puts up a blog or adds a review to online book sites, that does not mean he knows how to review a book. I have seen some of late that accuse the writer of plagiarizing his/her own work. First, that is not possible. The definition of plagiarism refers to using another’s work and passing if off as one’s own.
I was trained in journalism and there is an issue of Fair Comment and Criticism that protects the reviewer from law suits for giving his opinion. Yet, that is for the professional reviewer, and he/she must adhere to certain guidelines in writing the review. Any time someone writes an accusation that affects a person’s reputation, then it is libel and can be prosecuted as defamation of character.
Recently in the USA Weekend Magazine (which I love because I have referred to it previously), there was an article entitled “Protecting Your Online Reputation.” (Oct. 15-17, 2010, pg. 19) This piece outlines steps for a person to be sure of what is written about him on the internet. For those of you in the job market, this is very important. Prospective employers will have access to the same information, and many human resource programs are turning to the internet to screen interviewees they prefer.
The article suggests that a person sign up for google.com alerts to get an email notification of when his name appears online. It even suggests that people go one step further and add technorati.com to their programs. It finds articles that Google does not. Then a person can create his own positive press with a blog or website set up to show him in a positive light. It suggests a networking site called LinkedIn, of which I am not familiar, but plan to check out myself. And then we have all heard the warnings about social networking. Check your privacy settings, and take control of your reputation.
It is a new world in which we live, where a person may put spiteful words about another, and it goes around the world in an instant. To prevent this happening to you, join me and others in finding ways to protect yourself and your reputation.