Thursday, January 17, 2013

BAD REVIEWS - Do they help or hurt us?

As an author, I find book reviews to be hard. There are so many great books, mediocre books, and bad books out there. I for one do not like to give out five star ratings lightly. But, it's hard to define what books should receive the highest rating.

Especially if you are reviewing a fellow author or friends book.You know if it's one of those, they are expecting a five star rating from you. Afterall, aren't we supposed to support our fellow authors and friends?

But what do you do when you come across a book from a fellow author that you just simply can not give a good rating to? Do you lie? Or do you stay true to yourself and review the book with complete honesty? Which one helps the author more?

I once received a terrible review about a rhyming story I had written. I didn't know the reviewer but he was a respected author in the community. He was not nice in his review and basically told me to give up rhyming. With this being the very first story of mine that he had ever laid eyes on he thought he was that much of an expert that he could judge my writing enough to say I had no clue about meter or rhyme. I was shocked because I thought fellow authors were supposed to give each other encouragement. He gave me none. Yes, tell the truth but do it with encouragement. I don't believe it helps an author to just tell them to give up.

So did it help or deter me from ever writing rhyme again? I don't know. At first I was very angry. Then I decided I would work harder than ever to prove him wrong. But in the end, although I played with the story a little bit, I have done nothing with the story. It has sat in my inventory for almost 2 years now. I have practiced rhyme and meter and do believe I'm much better at it now and understand it, but... everytime I pick up that story my stomach cringes. What if he was right? Should I just continue on with prose and give up rhyming forever?

I once had to review a fellow authors book that was done in rhyme. I have to say it was one of the most difficult because I just couldn't find much at all good about the book. The author broke all the rules I'd learned and the ending just left me completely flat. I just could not give it a good rating or recommend it. Unlike the 'cruel' reviewer I'd had on my own story, I did try to find something nice to say though. I felt horrible that I couldn't give that author a good rating but it would've felt completely wrong to lie to myself and the reader. Needless to say, the author chose not to post my review.

I couldn't blame the author because none of us want to post a bad review. It doesn't help us sell our books. But does that help the reader make the right choice about what books to read? How do you feel?

3 comments:

  1. This is such a hard area, Allyn! I have never been asked specifically to do a review, thankfully. I will not post a bad review for a friend. I would rather post nothing at all.

    I don't think all authors expect their friends to give them 5 stars all the time though. I think a 4 star review is okay. I wouldn't expect everyone to love everything about my book (or course I would like them to, but...!).

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  2. This is tough. Personally, I can't bash another author. I know what I put into my own books and I have great respect for what writers do. So, if I don't like a book I read, I just choose not to review it at all.

    I'd never expect people I know to give me great reviews. My books aren't for everyone. One of the nicest reviews I read was from someone who said they stopped reading Touch of Death because the scenes with the zombies were too gross for her. I respect that. That's personal preference. My favorite part of the review was that even though she didn't finish the book and admitted it wasn't for her, she complimented my writing style and said people who do enjoy horror will like the book. That's honesty and respect. You can't ask for more than that. :)

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  3. What a hard question. If the book is pure crap, I simply decline to review it. If its bad but not horrible, I give the option to the author. I won't write a good review for a horrible book though.

    ctny

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