Or your blog, or any number of other things where the rule is, if you can’t say anything nice, say nothing at all. This is an excellent principle to follow in general social discourse.
The minute you release a professional product for sale to the general public, it is no longer the case. The reader of a book is a consumer, and like the consumer of any other product, be it hamburgers or lawnmowers, should be free to say anything about the product that they wish. That it’s good, or it’s bad, or that they wish the pickles were pink, or anything else.
Additionally, the literary tradition is one of openness and freedom of speech. Writers and readers should abhor censorship of any kind. As writers are free to write anything they wish, within very broad parameters, so do reviewers enjoy the same freedom.
First of all, I love my readers, they get to do whatever they want, and I never, ever challenge or comment on reviews. Human behavior is just really funny sometimes. Currently “A Foxgrove Wedding” is #29 in Gay and Lesbian Fiction in the Amazon UK store. The PAID store, not the free one. I’m thrilled, don’t get me wrong. Absolutely tickled. And completely amused that this is a 23 page story that was available free for several days and had over a thousand downloads between the U.S. and the U.K. It’s number three in a series, it has no UK reviews, I historically review very badly in Amazon UK, and it’s a story set in England written by an American. Who’d figure?
More funny stuff. There’s a wonderful, thoughtful review of “The Price of Everything” on a blog, http://mmgoodbookreviews.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/the-price-of-everything-by-d-c-williams/ which isn’t the funny part. The funny part is that there is also a link to it on a Christian book site, which isn’t that weird because I do touch on Christian faith in the novel, but I’m a little surprised that no-one has broken out the tar and feathers, considering a couple of the comments I’ve gotten on Amazon.
Lastly, I now have some regular readers, most of whom I figure love my books, or at least think they’re okay., along with the folks who tried one and found it not to be their cup of tea. I seem to have at least one frequent flyer who regularly two stars them, which is completely his prerogative. What I find funny is that he keeps trying them. I don’t know if they’re just enough to his taste that he thinks he might like the next one better, or he’ll read anything if he’s bored, or what. I suppose he could just be assigning random ratings, but the lag between the “want-to-read” and the rating suggests to me that he is reading them. Who knows? People are strange. It’s what makes us wonderful.