Get Over Yourselves

This post, by J.A. Konrath, originally appeared on his A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing on 9/8/12.

Updated below.

I had a long talk with a friend last night, and we realized something obvious.

Amazon allows one star reviews. 

In other words, the existing system allows and encourages people to publicly trash books.

[Publetariat Editor’s note: strong language after the jump] 

Reread that sentence. Just about every book has one star reviews. So there are, quite literally, MILLIONS of one star reviews.

Every one of those millions of reviewers who trashed a book deliberately did it to harm that book’s sales. That’s the whole point of a one star review. Someone yelling to the world "Don’t buy this!"

This is why I don’t leave one star reviews. I think it is a shitty, mean thing to do.

But it’s allowed.

If it was wrong to trash a book, it wouldn’t be allowed. Like murder isn’t allowed. Our society doesn’t allow murder.

But society does allow people freedom of speech. And that includes the right for people to offer their opinions. Even anonymously. Even stupid opinions. Even biased opinions. Even opinions with agendas.

Recently, three authors were exposed using an existing system–one built upon the very principle of people voicing their opinions–to their advantage, and they’re branded immoral and beyond reproach.

Sorry, no.

Ellory did a shitty thing, and because he didn’t sign his name to his reviews he was also cowardly, but what he did wasn’t any different than what millions of other one star reviewers did and continue to do.

Ellory didn’t want people to buy his rivals’ books. He wanted them to buy his books. That was his agenda.

He’s allowed his agenda. And I’ll defend his right to do things like that, even if I wouldn’t do it.

If I have a bad meal at a restaurant, I’d warn my friends not to go there. I’m deliberately preventing that restaurant from making money. That is my agenda.

And if I warned my friends to avoid a restaurant I never ate at, I’d be doing the same thing, except I’d be a dick.

And if I owned a restaurant, and publicly denounced other restaurants, I’d also be a dick. (Or an advertiser using Pepsi Challenge rules.)

There are dicks on the Internet! Gasp! Circle the wagons, Pa!

As I said, I don’t leave one star reviews. I think trashing books is shitty. That’s my personal opinion.

But if you want to throw Ellory under the bus, you need to condemn the millions of others who give malicious one star reviews, and then condemn the system for allowing it.

If you want to throw Locke under the bus, you need to condemn the millions of others who give unsubstantiated five star reviews, and then condemn the system for allowing it.

If you want to throw Leather under the bus, you need to condemn the millions of others who use sock puppets and post anonymously, and then condemn the system for allowing it.

 

Read the rest of the post on A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing. Also see this rebuttal from Alan Baxter‘s The Word.

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