My friend Joelle had a contest going on her blog. You download a free e-book that's around 27k and review it and then you're put in a drawing for a free e-book that's around 54k. Sounds like a sweet deal. (Which it is if you are into BDSM.) She's had several downloads of the free e-book, but no new reviews.
This makes me wonder why people don't leave reviews on books. I will, if I finish the book and it's a 3 star rating or above. If it's lower than that, I won't leave one. There are too many authors and readers out there who will attack anyone who leaves a low score and I don't feel like being bullied. If I can't finish the book, I don't feel I have a right to leave a review.
I do believe in supporting authors with a positive review if I can. I know that does tend to skew the numbers a little, but I just feel that unless I have something nice to say it's better not to say anything at all. I'm sure a number of you disagree with me. That's okay. It's more interesting to have different opinions. It's what makes discussions more enjoyable, as long as there's no bullying or name calling.
That's another thing I don't like about book reviews. The fact that people can be bullied for leaving an honest review. It's why I won't review anything on Goodreads anymore. If I feel strongly about a book, I'll review it here on my blog and I'll leave a review on the source of where I get it. Usually Amazon, though I have picked up a few from Smashwords. Those sites have a marginally lower instance of bullying.
Why do people bully others for having different opinions? It's not just book reviews. It's all over the place online. And offline, though it's not as pronounced there. Online you're protected by the anonymity of a computer screen. You can say what you want without repercussions. For the most part, at least. It's harder offline because you're face to face and can be penalized for it.
Bullying doesn't just happen about book reviews. When I was in high school, I was bullied for being awkward, a bookworm, not being pretty enough, being slightly overweight, not being able to keep up with my classmates physically, not being able to keep up with them mentally in some classes and exceeding them in others, etc. I couldn't get away from it. I made friends with similar problems, and we banded together to give each other support. But it wasn't enough and there were times where I considered suicide as a viable option. It didn't help that I wasn't getting any support at home. My parents wouldn't believe me about being bullied because most of it was psychological and emotional bullying, not physical.
We need to stand up to the bullies. We need to offer support and help to the bullied. We need to make sure people know that bullying – online or off – isn't right. People talk about children and teenagers being bullied. They need help and somewhere safe to go where they can feel secure and protected. But it's not just them that are being bullied. Adults get bullied too. I've spent a good portion of my life being bullied until I decided enough was enough and started standing up for myself. It led to more trouble for a while, but it started getting better. That's the message we need to send: stand up for yourself and it will end.
* climbs off soapbox *