Monday, September 5, 2011

Some random thoughts on free ebooks

Camy here! I hope you’re all having a great Labor Day weekend!

I was reading an old issue of the Romance Writers Report magazine by RWA (Romance Writers of America) and came across a short article on ebook piracy, how it’s on the rise. Apparently a pirated ebook will be downloaded an average of 6000 times. Isn’t that scary?

But I also know that more and more publishers are offering free ebooks as a marketing tool, and I am hoping that ebook piracy will decrease as there are more (legally) free ebooks available.

The only problem with those legally free ebooks is that more and more, I see readers leaving scathing reviews on Amazon and Goodreads about those free ebooks. The reviews go beyond just “I didn’t like this book” to really nasty, hurtful, unwarranted things.

And the worst part is, since many of the free ebooks being offered are Christian fiction boks, many of these nasty reviews are from people who call themselves Christian. They downloaded the free Christian fiction ebooks and then gave reviews saying things like “Thank God this book was free.” That’s really just very mean. I guess I had expected better manners from Christians than nonbelievers.

Granted, I’ve read some free ebooks that were really bad, but I didn’t feel it gave me the right to ream an author on a public forum or to say things that are downright rude, whether you’re a Christian or not. A nonbeliever giving a review that says something like, “This book was preachy” is not as offensive to me as a Christian saying, “This author is terrible, don’t bother with this book.”

There’s a way to give an honest review without descending into rude and dismissive language. If you were giving a review on a book written by your child, you certainly wouldn’t tell your son, “Thank God I got this book for free.” Instead, you’d find a way to list one or two positives, but also point out, in neutral language, what problems the book had.

I’m not sure what the point of this blog post is, but I guess it’s just that I got offended seeing reviews on Christian books (not mine) by supposed Christians that were simply downright ugly.

I want to let readers know that authors do see your reviews. We FULLY realize not everyone is going to like our books, and we are totally okay with that. I think it's fine to post an honest review if you didn't like a book, especially if you explain why you didn't like the book. Authors don't expect all 5 star reviews.

But what I don't like is if someone posts derisive language in their review. I don't mind the 1 or 2 star rating, but sometimes the language is very hurtful as opposed to simply critical.

I want readers to know that nasty words and phrases in a review does hurt our feelings. If you really want to give constructive criticism, please be considerate in your language, like you’re giving criticism to someone you know. Thanks!

Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Out now is the fourth book in her Sushi series, Weddings and Wasabi. She is a staff worker for her church youth group, and leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service. On her blog, she ponders frivolous things like knitting, running, dogs, and Asiana. Visit her website to sign up for her quarterly newsletter.

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