What would you rather have when you read a review? A glossy 5-star review that says the product is perfect and will fulfil all your wishes, only for it to be a grand disappointment when you have it in your hands? Or an honest 2-star review saying the product sucks which will prevent you from buying the faulty product?
As for me, I’d rather read the second one. The problem is: I value honesty. This phase of my life is the first time that I actually have the freedom, to be honest, about everything. I no longer have to hide the truth from an unhealthy family situation. I have no customers to deal with, which required me to lie regularly. Finally, I can start building on a value I hold very dearly: honesty. And it bites me in the ass.
For the past eight years, I’ve regularly reviewed e-books, audiobooks and sex toys. I’ve developed my style, which is honest, but always with respect to the product. I will never bash anything for no reason. If for some reason, the vibrator didn’t lead me to orgasm, I will mention it and say: sorry, this vibrator is not for me, but maybe it will be a better match to your body. Unless there are structural issues with how it’s build or with the materials used, I will not give a one-star review. I keep in mind that other people may respond differently to a product than myself. But you came to read my review, so you should get my real opinion.
Several times people have approached me and commended me on what I said in the review. Some even said: I wished someone had told me this earlier. Why do you think that is?
Because people are not fair in their reviews. Most people give out five-star reviews without any valid arguments. Businesses like Amazon and AliExpress live for these kinds of reviews. Doesn’t matter if it’s true, doesn’t matter if the product sucks, as long as there are five little stars along with a text like ‘great product, would buy again,’ then the world is okay.
So why this rant now? Because an author I reviewed for several times, blocked me from reviewing his or her new book. And it pisses me off. I read back my last review. Yes, I may have given a negative recommendation, but that was my real opinion. I gave several arguments to why I disliked the book, while also complimenting the world- and character building. Like I said, I don’t bash for no reason. I could have given it a one-star with an accompanying text like ‘hated it.’ That’s not me. If I leave a review, I will build my case and tell you, in full, why I didn’t like it.
I’m convinced my style of reviewing is also why I don’t receive more products from other companies to test. I think the companies I did review for, were miffed that I didn’t give them a ‘Love’, or when I did, that I was critical of certain product options. It’s hazardous to send your product to Liz because who knows, she might tell the truth and it may not be to your liking.
I know I don’t have enough clout to be picky as to whom I review for. I’m merely a beginner in this online realm. But I’ve been around long enough to have developed a sense of what I appreciate in a product.
I’m always respectful of the product. I know sex toy companies and authors are trying to sell their goods. I always point out what I do like about the product, and yes, I have even upped my rating somewhat to be kind and to give them the benefit of the doubt.
Keep in mind that I’m Dutch. My people are known for being direct, sometimes even blunt. When I beta-read for someone, I always say this in advance. I don’t sugarcoat, ever. Few people return to me to have me read another work by them.
And yes, I have considered this to be about the quality of my work. Of course, I always seek fault within myself. But, looking at the overall picture, I think it’s more than just the quality of my work. Especially since others are appreciative of my work.
My husband asked me yesterday: ‘Are you this surprised to have been blocked?’
‘No,” I answered, ‘in all honesty, I had expected this to happen a long time ago.’
My reviews can be harsh. Not everyone can appreciate that. Fine. I will not bend. I will not give in my way of reviewing. What would remain of me if I were only allowed to give lovey-dovey five-star reviews? Yes, I would receive more books than I had time to review. Yes, there would probably be a line of boxes waiting outside my door with products to be tested. But you know what? It would diminish me as a person. I would not be able to look myself in the eye. Being honest is my core value. And yes, it bites me in the ass with every step I take, because it is not valued in our society. I guess I’ll have to add a disclaimer to my review website: Careful, this reviewer might be honest. So be it.