GAMA Trade Show is bearing down on us and I’ve got a million things to do. Not sure I’m going to get to a review of the Subhuman’s show before I leave. Suffice to say it was very excellent and had real surprises, like the performance of the entirety of From the Cradle to the Grave, by far their longest song. Sadly, they did not play Ex-Teenage Rebel, or some of the other excellent songs from the Worlds Apart LP like Pigman and Businessman. Just too many good songs to play them all, unfortunately! Hard to complain about the likes of Subvert City, Religious Wars, and Human Error though.
While doing a lot of niggling administrative work, I’ve been mulling over what to do about a particular reviewer that has been pissing me off for months. Now usually we don’t argue with reviewers, or even reply to them at all unless they state things that are factually incorrect. This guy writes a lot of reviews and they are generally favorable for our stuff, but he has a few patented tricks that drive me nuts. Top of the list is his penchant for inventing some criteria out of thin air and then grading us down because we don’t live up to it. For example, say we put out a book about Mutant Plants. The reviewer would say, “I really wish this book had info on Fluffy Bunnies. Fluffy Bunnies and Mutant Plants would work really well together. They should have cut some of this info on Tentacled Beanstalks and included a section on Fluffy Bunnies.” It doesn’t matter that the book isn’t about Fluffy Bunnies. It doesn’t matter that we never promised Fluffy Bunnies. He has decided that the book should have had Fluffy Bunnies, so we must be graded down. Basically, he seems incapable of reviewing the book that’s actually in front of him. He’s got some idea in his mind and if we don’t live up to his imaginary standards, it’s a problem. Of course, he also has different standards for different publishers. We routinely see him give books with far bigger problems than ours (missing material, poor editing, poor design, broken mechanics, etc) the same numeric grade as books of ours that he has nitpicked to death. It’s…frustrating.
So on the one hand, I want to say something about it. On the other hand, I don’t want to look like a whiny publisher who is upset his books don’t all get perfect scores. The day I conduct myself in public like Jim Ward is the day you can shoot me. I just think that we, like everyone else, deserve a fair shake. I’d like the reviews to evaluate the book on its own terms. What did this book set out to do and how successful was it? How does in compare in terms of quality and value to other books on the market? That’s all I’m looking for.
In the end, I expect I won’t say anything. It likely wouldn’t be worth it. There are days when I have seriously considered writing an open letter to this guy though. Like, oh, today.