So Candy and I got an email from a concerned reader regarding one of the covers we laid some snark on. Seems the author in question not only wrote the book, but also designed the cover. The concerned reader is also a friend of said author, and begged us to take it down before the author saw our comments and her work held up for ridicule.
Candy and I, to quote Candy, were nonplussed. On one hand, are we mean nasty people in real life? Shit no. We’re pretty snarky but we’re not going to kick your dog. We love dogs. And cats. We spend hours making our animals’ food, for crying out loud.
That said, do we want to take the review down? We’re a review site. As Candy pointed out, it’s a dangerous precedent – if we make someone mad with a review, if Emma Holly gets mad at me for saying I didn’t like “The Demons Daughter” and demands I take down the review, are we going to be able to do that? No. As Candy wrote to me, we’re not assessing effort here, we’re assessing aesthetics.
Now the reviews are our opinion; the covers we just find on Google images and say, “Whoa, damn hell.” However, we also know that the covers are (usually) the product of an art department and a marketing department’s thought of what readers want – and we’re happy to point out examples that show that the marketing surveys kind of missed the whole point of what readers want to see and be seen with. (Man titty comes to mind.)
But in the end, our point was to create a site where we could address romance as a genre worthy of individual review and critique, and have the room to say, “How the hell did that reach publication?” As Candy said, “This is not grade school. We are not obliged to play nice or hold hands and say ‘Good job!’”
I do sometimes think, when I write in response to a book I’ve finished, how harsh can I be in a review? I mean, this is someone’s work, and while I would like to point out flaws, I do worry that sometimes my over-reaching harshness will hurt someone’s feelings. *I* sure didn’t stay up until 4am writing the book, so is it really ok for me to use the words “Sucked Donkey Cock” in a review? For that reason, because I know how hard it is to write a novel, I do point out the favorable items and discuss salient points of solid writing or development. And people who have requested our reviews have thanked us for the balanced critique, saying it will make them better writers.
So in the interest of making a “better website,” we’re asking you: take the offending entry down? Or leave it there, and perhaps the author will find our site and be upset? What’s your opinion?