Saturday, August 26, 2017

Big Mistake. Huge. Authors Please Don't Do This.

Read my review here.
So I checked my email today to discover that I had a comment on a review I posted on Goodreads almost three years ago. I must say, that had me a bit intrigued because I barely even remembered reading the book in the first place. So I clicked the link to discover the above comment. Authors, I realize that most of you know better, for those of you who are new and don't, leaving comments like this on a reader's review is just not a good idea. For one thing, you never know if they're a blogger like me who will put you on blast for your bad behavior (because I have no chill). But I've got some time on my hands, so let's unpack this comment, shall we? But first, here's the review for A Child's Primer to Understanding Government (for adults):

When I downloaded this book I was expecting to read a book about how government works in a clear, easy to understand language. I was expecting information about things like the checks and balances provided by The President, Congress, and The Supreme Court, and information about how a bill becomes a law. I even thought we might get some information on how the President is actually elected through the electoral college. This book doesn't provide any of that. Instead it is just an uber-conservative diatribe about everything the author thinks is wrong with government. 

I had several problems with this book, beyond just my standard disagreement with the authors ideals because I'm very liberal (but I was expecting to have those issues with the book based on the synopsis, and those do not affect my rating). Early on in the book we learn about how "Nothing is voted on that [The Senate Majority leader] disagrees with He runs the House with a firm iron hand Some would say he runs the House in a fascistic way." (I left all capitalization and punctuation as it's found in the book. That alone is a problem). Based on that quote alone, it is pretty clear that the author of this book is operating on faulty information though. The Senate Majority leader doesn't run the House at all, he runs the Senate, hence his title. Is it true that he doesn't bring bills to a vote that he doesn't agree with? Sure. The same thing happens in the house though, but this author doesn't bother to mention that. It's hard to take someone seriously when they can't even get simple facts like that correct. 

This author also uses several "facts" to illustrate his point such as "...the climate hasn't changed in 18 years..." and "We have millions out of work now, nearly 1 in 6 people. We have millions more on food stamps -- even in foreign countries -- than when he started." These "facts" would be great if they came with source citations. As they stand, I just have to laugh at them for how ridiculous they sound. For one thing, the only way to have U.S. citizens on food stamps in other countries is for them to be in the military stationed overseas, and if your military members are on food stamps, you might just want to reevaluate how well you pay them.

He goes on to discuss how President Obama is expanding the government by doing things such as "giving 1/7 of the economy (healthcare) over to be run (poorly) by the government." and "taking over Wall Street, the auto industry, student finance, and a host of other things that the private sector used to run." Last time I checked, the private sector still runs all of these things, except student finance, but the government has been providing student loans since long before President Obama was in office. I'm currently paying some off that I took out 12 years ago. Beyond that, here is another instance where there is no source cited for the information. 

After that little gem, he talks about RINO (Republican in name only) double-crosses, using the example of the current Senate majority leader not wasting time trying to repeal the ACA. This would actually be a great place to use some real information about how the government works. The author sees this as a double-cross, where I'm fairly certain the Senate majority leader sees a repeal that will never succeed because he doesn't have the two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate to override a presidential veto. It's really a pretty simple concept that I would expect someone writing about book titled "A Child's Primer to Understanding Government" to understand. 

So as you can see, there are a lot of structural problems here. A complete lack of sources, spelling and grammar that are used very loosely, and very little information about how government is actually supposed to work. But the real kicker is that it's written in a tone that implies that everyone reading it is a complete idiot. So I guess if you're looking for a book to make you feel like you're a real dummy, this would be a great book for you. Personally I wish I had my twenty minutes back.
 Y'all, I put effort into this review for a book that I downloaded from Amazon for free. I highlighted and took notes while reading even, and I basically NEVER do that, but it became apparent early on that I would want to quote sections from the book to support my position on things. And as you can see, I utilized those things I highlighted.

So the author disagrees with my assessment. That's really not a big surprise, but that's the very reason he should have just not said anything. No one is going to see my review of this book and think "I bet the author loves that review" at least not without sarcasm oozing from their mental voice.

He argues that the facts are "in the news and easily verifiable." Facts like that the Senate Majority Leader runs the House of Representatives? I'm not sure what news he's watching or reading, but that's not the way Congress works. And facts being in the news and easily verifiable does not absolve him of the responsibility to cite his sources for said facts. (And some of his "facts" are just dead wrong, like everything mentioned in the fourth paragraph of my review.)

His next point is about the synopsis making it plain who the target audience is and that the book is satire. Here is the synopsis.
Finally. A primer for the un-informed voter (or your best liberal friend). In easy to understand language that even a politician can understand. With chapters like The Tea Party, The Rino, The Media, The Vice-President and The Future of America. Makes an excellent gift for the low information voter (that is, someone weaning themselves off MSNBC).
So yeah. The synopsis DOES make it clear that the target audience is conservatives with a very low opinion of liberals, but I acknowledged in my review that I was not the target audience and knew that going in to the book. If the book was satire, it was not well-executed. (And I'd LOVE to give you an example of better satirical execution for a section of the book, but I deleted it from my device after I finished reading it, and the author has removed it from Amazon, so I can't even download it again to pull an excerpt from the book to use.)

He then ends his comment talking about how they only people who criticized his book were not the intended audience and they would have known better than to read the book in the first place if they'd read the synopsis. His book has one review. Mine. And I did read the synopsis (for once). I referenced the synopsis early on in my review even. But my criticisms weren't about his political positions. My criticisms were about the spelling and grammar, a lack of cited sources, and a lack of information about how government is actually supposed to work (and I'm sorry, but a book that calls itself a Primer to Understanding Government should include some actual information about the workings of the government).

Now I mentioned that the book is no longer available on Amazon. I'm not sure when it was removed, but based on the timing of his comment, I suspect it was quite recently when he checked and saw that it had one measly, scathing, verified review. That wasn't my intention in leaving the review though. My intention in leaving the review was to get another verified review with a short, free book in order to pad my verified to non-verified review ratio on Amazon (because I believe that helps me keep my non-verified purchase reviews when Amazon does their random purges). I was simply striving to post an honest review and did make it a point to support my points with quotes from the book.

But do you think I was maybe too honest? Do you think he would have commented on my review if I hadn't proclaimed that I was very liberal and disagreed with political ideals because of that? What if I had posted the exact same review but prefaced it with something like "Now I'm about as conservative as they come, but I had some serious issues with this book."?

But back to my original point. Authors, please don't do this to yourselves. Bad reviews happen. Your book will not be for everybody, but you cannot control who reads it once it's published. And reviews like the one I wrote for this book might happen. And they will probably hurt because you put effort into writing your book. But reviews like mine are just the opinion of the readers leaving them, and nothing good will come from leaving a negative comment on those reviews. So find a friend to complain to about "That bitch that doesn't know what she's talking about..." But don't comment on the review itself. Please do yourself this one favor.

- Katie


  1. Replies
    1. And it came almost three years after I left the review. Like what was even the point of leaving it? - Katie

  2. WOW. Why after three years? That's bizarre.

    1. Well, there's apparently something in the air...I've got another post I'm working on now that I should have up after I get home from vacation that also had a three year lull in activity. - Katie

  3. Wow, authors. I really wish they wouldn't do that kind of thing. I've had it too, especially on non-fiction reviews.

    1. Right. It rarely ends well for them...and it's not like I was posting this review all over the place or anything. - Katie

  4. What was he thinking? That you wouldn't mind being replied in this tone if it was 3 years? Some people are weird.

    Gayathri @ Musings Over Nothing

    1. I don't know, maybe. If so, he clearly didn't do his research on me very well :) I have no chill where this kind of stuff is concerned. - Katie