I heard about the Be Nice business and the impact of negative reviews, and that immediately put me in mind of the phrase, 'don't like, don't read. I've usually seen this in plenty of fanfics when the pairing is non canon and the setting is AU. Most of the summaries for a fanon pairing will clearly state in the summary, 'don't like, don't read.' It's annoying when fanfiction authors begin a chapter by yelling that if reviewers don't like their work, they shouldn't read it. I can be more lenient towards fanfiction writers, since they are not professional writers and are not profiting from their work. But professional authors can have a don't like, don't read attitude as well, such as Laurel K. Hamilton and her 'Dear Negative Reader,' post. Now as much as people say that writing is an art, and all that rubbish, it is still a job. Granted, it might be a bit more creative than other jobs, but it is still a job. Authors get paid for writing books. They have to finish a book by a deadline( according to a book I read) or they don't get paid. It is highly unprofessional for them to yell at readers 'don't like, don't read, because I find that the phrase has an underlying message of don't like, don't criticize.
For the most part, I don't read things I don't like. How am I supposed to know if I don't like something if I don't experience it? It's not like I go into a bookstore or a library looking for books I hate. In order for me to know if I don't like the book, then obviously I have to read it. There might be a few plot summaries that might not endear me to a book, but I can always be proven wrong. But let's say I read a book and didn't like it. Why shouldn't I say so? If I've been waiting a long time to read a book and it turned out to be a disappointment, or I paid a lot of money for the book, I have every right to say why I didn't like it. Once I discuss why I didn't like a book, I will move on. I think that it is important for writers to get all kinds of feedback, instead of just praise. When I used to write fanfiction or newspaper articles, what annoyed me wasn't negative reviews. I did get negative reviews, but I'll get into that later. What annoyed me was the lack of feedback. I spent a long time on my work, and it was annoying not knowing what people thought of it.
Yes, I did get negative reviews on my writing, and I'm sure that my reaction was something lots of people have done. I became butthurt and thought that my criticizer was an imbecile who did not understand my intentions and had no taste. But I was taking the criticism personally. I think that authors should try to separate themselves from their work. When I review a book I didn't like, I have no interest in being nasty to the author. It's quite pointless and I really am not the kind of girl who likes going around being mean to others. I can understand a knee jerk reaction to hearing your work sucks. I've done it before. But authors should not tell reviewers to move on and instead listen to what they have to say. When numerous reviews are pointing out the same problem in a book, it's worth looking into. In addition, reviewers can often pick up things the author might have missed, and the author can improve their work.
When I was in ninth grade, I wrote an essay. My teacher said that part of it was unrealistic, and I was upset at first. After I got over my initial hurt, I was able to look at the piece again with a clearer head and more critical eye, and I realized that my teacher was right. I rewrote the essay and got a higher grade. What pleased me was that I was able to take criticism and improve my work. Authors should do the same.
Another issue is the intention issue. Authors can talk all they want about what they intended, but once their work is out in the public eye, they really can't do anything about it. For example, some people think that Edward and Bella have an abusive relationship, while others don't. Stephenie Meyer doesn't, but her work is public now and others can interpret it however they want. This is why I think books should be discussed, and not only praised. I'm going for the benefit of the doubt and assuming that these YA authors did not intend to write such anti feminist, abusive relationships. Promoting frank discussion of their books can make authors aware of these issues and maybe they can improve them. If I ever get my book finished and published, what I'm looking forward to is discussion of how readers interpret the work. I don't intend to put in negative messages on purpose, but sometimes I'm not aware of it. I'm interested to see how others will interpret the work. But I could just be a naive idiot.
- Don't Like, Don't Read