On an author blog the other day, the issue of low starred reviews for free Kindle books was mentioned. The idea behind free Kindle books is that readers will download the book, push the Amazon rank up and thus increase sales of the book by making it appear more popular. But the blog post mentions a problem with these people who have been reading these books writing flaming reviews when they discover that the book they are reading is a Christian book. Of particular interest its Jim Rubart’s Rooms which has received nearly as many one star reviews as it has five star reviews and significant discussion from readers who didn’t realize it was a Christian book until about 40% of the way through the book.
There’s more than one way to look at this. One is that these people have no right to complain about something they received for free. In other words, Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. The problem I see with that is that we may be talking about a White Elephant rather than a gift horse. A person downloads a book and begins to read. Three hours into the book, the reader discovers that the book is of a nature that she didn’t intend to read. That’s three hours of wasted time that she can’t get back.
Another way to look at this is that these people are non-Christians and like the Bible tells us, the world hates Christians. They will be offended by what we have to say and when they come across a Christian book they will write a bad review. There’s some truth to that. Check out the Christian forums on Amazon.com and you’ll find many people who are there to do nothing but talk about how terrible Christians are, so we should expect to see something similar from them when Christian books are offered for free.
Then there’s the possibility that these reviews are correct. I haven’t yet read Jim Rubart’s book. I intend to, so I can understand this issue more fully, but one of the things these low starred reviews mention is that Christian novels use inane plot development and too much scripture. I suspect that I’m more forgiving of such things than these reviewers, but I’ve seen books that I would describe the same way. I know authors like throwing their favorite Bible verses in there, but I tend to skip over them unless I can see how the verse has significance to the story. And yeah, I’ve seen inane plot development. I’ve seen books that I’ve enjoyed and have read again, but the second time I skipped over some chapters because of this problem.
The bottom line is that we want people to be criticizing us for the right reasons. If they don’t like the Christian message, that is one thing, but if a book is poorly written that is something else. I think it’s easy for us to get martyr syndrome. We write something about our faith, a non-Christian says something against it and we assume that this is some for of persecution. Because we are criticized we must be doing something right. It must be spiritual warfare or something. But not every Christian author is serving God. To assume that his writing is God honoring simply because Satan’s people oppose it would be wrong. Satan would just have to “oppose” a few of his people to give them creditability. No, I think that what we need to do is to listen to what these critics have to say. Some are going to oppose Christian stuff no matter what, but others are raising legitimate issues that should be addressed within Christian publishing.
Own a Kindle? Read my books for a dollar:
Searching For Mom
How to Become a Bible Character
For the Love of a Devil