PRECISION IN LANGUAGE
WHAT WILL YOUR LAST WORDS BE?
Do you think that anyone’s last words on their deathbed will be, “I wish I’d left just one more negative review on Amazon?” I don’t know. I guess it’s possible. I’d venture that happy, successful people are not spending their time leaving negative reviews on Amazon or anywhere else for that matter. Imagine if those people turned that time, energy and effort toward something productive like bettering themselves physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually; toward building instead of tearing down. I make no claims on being an expert in these matters, but experience suggests that lending a hand to a fellow citizen is not an exercise in futility. I try to never miss an opportunity to make someone’s day. That’s just how I’m wired. I understand that not everyone is wired this way. If you want to meet some of them, check out the one-star reviews of any of your favorite authors on Amazon.
I write that in semi-jest as I sincerely appreciate everyone who takes the time to leave any and all reviews. Negative reviews certainly serve a purpose. I am especially appreciative of those that incorporate humor or are insightful or clever. I am extremely fortunate in that the vast majority of my reviews are positive. Reviews, both positive and negative, are only legitimate if they are based in fact. If not, they are harmful both for the product being reviewed and the reputation of the reviewer. I believe that even the negative reviews have positive aspects; for every reviewer who doesn’t care what pistol someone carries or doesn’t know that you don’t take a safety off on a Glock, there are multiple people who see that and pick up the novel because they do care about those details. Some are just bizarre, like the one-star reviewers who are upset that Amazon was a day late in their delivery, or say the book “crashed” their Kindle, or that the book arrived with a torn cover. All authors get these types of one-star reviews. That goes with the territory.
I enjoy picking a few negative reviews to read each month in my videos but in my recent skim of reviews one bold header stood out. Usually, the negative reviews focus on calling the books too conservative or pro-gun or don’t care for the detailed gear descriptions or government mandated redactions. This particular reviewer incorporated quotes that are NOT in the novel. Not only do the attributed quotes not come from the novel being reviewed, they are not from ANY of my novels, social media posts, interviews, or blogs. The reviewer also called me a racist.
Reacting to Negative Reviews
NEGATIVITY BREEDS NEGATIVITY
I’ve never clicked on a reviewer’s profile before but because this person wrote that I had a hatred of Hispanic Americans I clicked on his (I guess he missed that there is a Hispanic American main character, Marco del Toro, who is many readers’ favorite character from THE TERMINAL LIST). I found that of his 11 reviews, 9 are one star, 1 is a 2 star, and one (of a book written by a Nobel Prize winner in literature) is a 5 star – can’t fault him that one. Only one of his reviewed books are verified purchases. Interesting…
EVEN LIES ARE 1ST AMENDMENT PROTECTED SPEECH
DEFUSING A ONCE POWERFUL WORD
Should it bother me that NONE of the passages the reviewer put in quotes are actually in the novel? After all, it is not illegal to put things in quotes and attribute them to an author or a work where they don’t actually exist. It’s just weak and in poor form. Lying is protected speech. Generations of Americans have given the ultimate sacrifice to ensure that the Bill of Rights continues to protect that freedom.
Thirty years ago, this review would have gone to a newspaper or magazine, and the editor would have checked its veracity. The editor would have noted that the quotes in the review were not even in the novel and would have thrown it in the trash. Today, it stands on Amazon with the terms “racism and bigotry” bolded in the header.
When this reviewer uses the term “racist” he takes power away from the word and does a disservice to those who fought against racism and for freedom. Unfortunately, people like this reviewer are defusing the power of the word in an afront to all those who gave him the freedom to make decisions based on free will. In years past, being called a “racist” would have been the most hurtful thing I can imagine. Sadly, today, because of people like this reviewer, more and more, the word now means, “someone I disagree with,” a change that is unfortunate and heartbreaking.
There are a lot of positive aspects to social media. It allows us to engage with one another and allows me to thank everyone who took a risk on an unknown author and recommended the books to friends. The novels are a success because of the grassroots efforts of readers, hunters, archers, shooters, librarians, independent bookstores, overlanders, veterans, and friends who decided to try out THE TERMINAL LIST and liked it enough to enthusiastically recommend it to others. For that, I am humbled and sincerely grateful. The negative side of social media and open reviews is that anyone, regardless of motive, can use these platforms in an attempt to tear down and destroy.
The characters, good and bad and those in the gray area, are not in my novels because of their skin color. They are in the novels because they are interesting characters. This will continue to be the case.
One Amazon reviewer took exception to the Mexican drug cartel being, well, Mexican. That is true, the Mexican drug cartel from THE TERMINAL LIST is in fact a Mexican drug cartel. The Iranian terrorist in TRUE BELIEVER is Iranian. The Russian Bratva (Russian mafia) hit team from SAVAGE SON is made up of Russians. I won’t ruin anything by divulging the background of the antagonists in THE DEVIL’S HAND. In future novels it is possible I go back and explore the IRA. If I do, odds are that they will be Irish. The Chinese Triads will probably be Chinese. The Japanese Yakuza will probably be Japanese.
If you have a second and want to counter some of the reviews like the one highlighted in this blog, hop on Amazon and get after it!