As always, I perused the book section. These days, I'm reading on my Kindle pretty much exclusively. I do most of my reading in the dark you see, while nursing the baby or right before bed under the covers like a kid so as not to wake up Mr. Sierra. So I took pictures with my phone of the books I was interested in at Costco and later when I got home, I went and checked them out on Amazon with the view of downloading them to my Kindle.
I don't know what came over me.
I clicked on the 1-star reviews for all four books and read them. And even though the 1-star reviews were poisonous and mostly ridiculous ("this author knows nothing about plot!" -- right, and who are you?), they started to affect my buying decision.
This was bad.
Few people write perfect books, but for the most part, books are good. I went through all four books thinking, wow, each one looked good at the store, but now they're terrible! With the exception of one that had universal reviews on its poor ending, I knew this couldn't be true. So I went and read all the 5 and 4 star reviews.
It didn't help.
The poison had set in and was gnawing away at me. I fought valiantly in my usual defiant way--I vowed to purchase the books anyway and read them, just to spite the hard-hearted 1-star reviewers (with the exception of the one with the shite ending). And I will do it, too.
But I understood truly the negative effect those awful reviews have. I always have a hard time trusting people whose credentials haven't been verified--for example, one of them complained, "The plot, what I could get of it once I trudged past lots of descriptive details, could be gook [sic].. but overall I felt the book was mostly filler." I assume "gook" means "good" here, because if not, that's not only a mean review but a really rude one.
Another complaint went, "The plot is boring and the characters are shallow." These two comments are ridiculous and I question the reviewer's capacity to understand what plot and story is. Have they studied plot? If they had, they probably would have made a more constructive comment like "The plot meandered in the middle and sagged"-- that kind of thing.
So these are obviously silly (including the wonderfully stupid one I found saying "I can't believe someone can write worst [sic] than Stephenie [sic] Meyer."). But yet, their poison seeded.
I knew then that my future self will never, ever read the bad reviews. They are heinous. And yet, the temptation to read them must be insanely strong. You must not! They will bring only pain and tears and massive chocolate requirements that no one will be able to fulfill unless they wheel you into a chocolate factory and let set up camp there for two weeks. And even then! You will have to discover a magic spell that turns everyone and everything into chocolate so you can eat it all!
And as for me, I will resist reading the bad reviews for books I want to buy, because I don't think I can actually trust them. And anyway, a bad book isn't a bad read--it's an educational read.
There's a postscript to this. After I read all the 1-star reviews for books I wanted to buy, I checked all my published friends' books and read their 1-star reviews--or whatever came closest to them (I have friends who don't have a lot of 1-star reviews!!). And I read with outrage and righteous indignation (a specialty of mine), and then realized how stupid those reviews are.
Don't read them.
What about you? Do you read these little missives of crap? If published, have you read yours or have you managed to stay away from them?