David Blake was born in the northwest of England in 1970 and grew up on a diet of Marvel comics, 2000 AD and television sci-fi. He has been writing for as long as he can remember and remains an avid reader. His other interests include travelling, vintage British television programmes, vintage cinema, football, eating toast and even having the occasional drink.
If David Blake has reviewed your work on Smashwords, please do not take any criticism to heart. He tries to be unbiased and constructive, and will only award 5 stars to the absolute best works, which will be rare.
Note 28th October 2012: Over the course of this weekend, a Smashwords member named Selena Faith has posted reviews of FORTY Smashwords works, and given all of them scores of 4 or 5 stars. Nothing too bad about that, some readers are more easily pleased than others. Most of these reviews are just comments like "Loved it" or "Absolutely wonderful" and lack proof that Ms Faith has actually READ any of those works. Again, nothing too sinister.
HOWEVER, all of these works are, by huge coincidence, works I have previously reviewed and given awarded scores of under 4. The works cross several genres, and comprise both new and older publications. I find it very odd that Ms Faith has dip-sampled the exact same publications that I have, and chosen to review them all in the space of one weekend. When reviewing the works of Drac Von Stoller or N Jaber, for example, who have each published a number of free works, I find it very suspicious that Ms Faith has chosen to review the exact same titles that I have done previously.
Call me cynical, but I suspect Selena Faith's motivation to have been an exercise in boosting the average ratings of works I have previously marked low, or to try and discredit my worth as a reviewer, probably because Ms Faith is a pseudonym or friend of a writer I have given a low mark to. People may disagree with my low scores, and they are perfectly entitled to do so, but at least when I award a low score I give details as to why I have done this and provide evidence that I have actually read and digested the whole story. My reviews are honest assessments and are in no way motivated to discredit rival writers or plug the work of friends. And they're certainly not an attempt to 'win' or bargain for good reviews for my own work - I'd hardly be likely to win favour from a rival author by giving them a bad mark, now, would I?
Unfortunately many of the Smashwords reviews I have read seem suspect. Reviews from members who joined the same time a story was published, and who review that one story, giving it 5 out of 5, then never having any further activity on the site. Or reviews from people who give EVERYTHING 5 out of 5. Or authors who 'trade' good reviews. Do these people really think they're kidding anybody? Hmmm, maybe they are.
Ultimately this all renders the review system rather meaningless, sadly. I appreciate nobody likes being unkind to a writer, but I am truly dismayed when I see some really substandard pieces of writing getting top marks. All this does is ruin the credibility of the reviewer and devalue the efforts of the genuinely good writers on this site. Furthermore, authors rely on constructive criticism to realise where their deficiencies lie. If you give a substandard work high praise, then the writer will have neither signpost nor impetus with which to improve his work.
Is a little honesty really too much to ask?