At one of the several blogs and loops I regularly visit, there's been a discussion of a certain self-published author and the Amazon reviewer who recently savaged one of her books. Since I have a hopelessly inquiring mind (which translates, I guess, into being nosy), I of course checked out both the review and an excerpt from said book, in addition to comments posted at Amazon from other readers.
My conclusion: I could never be a reviewer of self-published or small-press commercial fiction. So many writers in these venues have such desperately high hopes yet such dismally poor skills. If I had to critique a truly junky book by a starry-eyed wannabe with virtually no realistic conception of her talent level, I'd be stymied. I'm by nature very analytical and very outspoken. I'm also a real stickler for both proper and imaginative use of the language as well as a certain degree of historical accuracy, character development, plot consistency, etc.
BUT...I can't stand the thought of hurting someone, especially over something that means so very much to that someone. Writing fiction requires an enormous intellectual and emotional investment. When an author falls short, I do indeed cringe...sometimes while I'm laughing. But I do it in private. Why a reviewer who approaches every book in a locked-and-loaded mode would even bother with some wren of a writer is beyond me. For God's sake, leave the little guys and their dreams (or delusions) alone; instead, go after successful, big-name authors who've turned to churning out crap and are ripping off readers in a MUCH bigger way. Those are the scribblers we need to be warned about.
Then again, some writers--not many, but some--embrace negative attention because they feel it stimulates sales. This does happen. A dogshit book that generates, for whatever reason, a lot of buzz can provoke readers into forking out money just to see what the stink is all about. A boost to one's income can be a great reliever of angst.
So, after reading the latest back-and-forth over poor E.'s ineptly written medieval romance, I know I'll ever want to undermine any aspirant's self-confidence or self-esteem...whether it pads her wallet or not.