As I mentioned in a comment to a ludicrous review (at Amazon.com) of “The Pagan Man” last year, “Like most authors, I am used to people reading my books carelessly, then criticizing them for content that isn’t really there.”
Lately I’ve noticed a swarm of such careless reviews, not just of my books but of books by other authors I know and respect. Rude, borderline illiterate, trollish comments by people who obviously dislike an author’s personality or political views so much that immature insults substitute for analysis and content-focussed discussion.
Anyone (including myself) can make a spelling or typing mistake now and then, but a review filled with dozens of typos indicates—at the very least—someone who is so angry they can’t think straight, let alone type well, or so ignorant that they are incapable of writing clear English sentences. The use of dramatic pseudonyms in reviews copying insulting language from similarly badly written reviews often indicates people posting multiple reviews of the same works under multiple names.
I understand why Amazon doesn’t censor any but the most outrageously abusive reviews, and I trust my readers to be wise enough to separate the wheat from the chaff when reading reviews. I will say, however, that review abuse is yet another reason why, if you have authors whose work you admire, it is important to post your own literate, thoughtful reviews—even strongly critical ones—of all those authors’ works. Otherwise, books you admire and think worthy of greater distribution may be drowned in a sea of childish invective and ignorant misrepresentation.
Cross-posted from my Amazon Blog.