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May 24 2020: My Fear of Asking for Reviews

May 24 2020: Let me explain why I hate asking for reviews of my work. Aside for the obvious, and universal, need to protect one’s ego, I mean. There’s more to it than the simple fear that people won’t like something I’ve written.

My day job is in a notoriously contentious industry. Nerds have always been harsh. The thing is, in the distant past any criticism would have felt fair. If someone didn’t like a thing, they’d articulate why. Usually there was sound logic behind it. You’d get useful critique, closer to what you’d receive in an art class or writer’s workshop. If felt as if the fans were invested in seeing you succeed.

There was always the asshole who just wanted to tear you down, but they were the outlier. Now that seems to be the norm. Worse, with the rise of political divisiveness, you’re more likely to get slammed for how you live your life and the causes you support than the actual content of your creation. When you’re unwilling or unable to debate ideas, you resort to name calling. Even if the content itself seems neutral, the brigades roll out to call you whatever term is in vogue this week.

I feel that asking for reviews is like inviting them in. It feels as if I’m encouraging or enabling them by giving them a target. That, in turn, feels like I’m participating and perpetuating this culture. All because I write and publish books in a niche with a subculture filled with problematic people. At the same time, I feel like avoiding them is akin to allowing them to win, and control the culture. So I’m trying to find ways to step up, and champion constructive participation.

Asking for Reviews

Which brings us to the twin issues of my anxiety and pain. It’s a lot easier to ask for reviews when you’re outgoing, breezily social, and naturally charismatic. I am not those things. With my chronic pain issues, I also tend to be cranky. Being in constant pain for 40 years leaves a lot of rough edges. Some people get that. Others don’t, or won’t, or somehow can’t. Writing allows me to control my messaging more than any sort of live, real-time media. Even then, as I’m sure long-time readers have noticed, it squeaks through.

But I’m trying. Hopefully by being open and honest about this, I can find ways to make it work. Get what I need, better serve my readers, and avoid enabling the feckless bullies.

May 24 2020

  • If you get anything out of these blog posts, consider buying me a coffee. You can also purchase one of my books or zines from Gumroad or DriveThruRPG.
  • I check all email and Twitter DMs, personal and professional, three times once a day. I respond  as time allows; if it requires some thought or research on my part, it will take me longer.
  • I am actively avoiding news and social media to focus on writing. Please take your information from reliable sources and certified experts, not the Mad Carrot and its puerile cultists.
  • Today is Day 68 in isolation. 

One reply on “May 24 2020: My Fear of Asking for Reviews”

Good reviewers concentrate on the work in front of them, not on the author: here I’m speaking of people who actually sit down, read the work, and write a proper review, not people who make passing comments about the work – they may or may not have actually read it (although they often have). Even those, however, are not usually the sort of abusive and nasty trouble-makers about whom you speak. Those thrive on places like Twitter – and are why I don’t bother to go there any more. Once they take a dislike to someone, they are happy to post deliberately hurtful remarks in a torrent of abuse, creating imagined offences to go along with whatever it was that got them riled in the first place. If you ever encounter anyone like that, run. As soon as you differ one iota from their opinions (often quite extreme ones), they’ll attack you to. They probably could not write a real review if their lives depended on it, they lack the capacity for reasoned dispassionate judgement based solely on the work in front of them, and their views on it (or anything else for that matter) are not worth the transient electonic media on which they are written.

What you want is to find some good reviewers. Pity DriveThruRPG’s old ‘featured reviewer’ program has disintergrated. Maybe look on RPG.net although that has some issues with clique-y behaviour too. Best try for some of those who use websites or blogs that they run themselves as a platform for their reviewing.

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