Would you Give a Fellow Author a Negative Book Review?

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I’m not sure why, but I receive quite a few book review requests. Maybe I have that “I review books” look about me. Or, maybe folks think that any gal who used to be nicknamed Tanutsi is too genial to pen a negative book review. Whatever the case, I generally don’t respond to the requests because they’re not personalized. Note to book spammers: If you’re going to take the time to reach out to me about reviewing your book, at least write Dear Quanie!

Note to other spammers: I don’t care if your great uncle left you 25 million dollars and an offshore oil rig and for some reason you’d like to bequeath it all to me, a total stranger: I will not give you my bank account information. I repeat: I will not give you my bank account information.

But I digress.

Anyhoo, the main reason I don’t review books is because of what happened to me a couple of years ago. I won’t name names (I never do!) but an author reached out to me about reviewing her book, and without knowing anything about her writing or the genre of the novel, I said yes. Below is the sequence of events that followed:

Author sends Quanie book. Quanie reads first page. Quanie faceplants.  

I felt a sense of dread as the realization hit me: if I review this book I’m either going to have to:

Write a negative review and risk ruining a relationship (because let’s face it: it’s one thing if a stranger calls your baby ugly but if a friend does it? Them’s fightin’ words).

Lie to spare the author’s feelings and write a review that’s untruthful. Never good!

Pretend I never got the book review request and act completely befuddled when the author asks me about it. “Really? You sent me a book review request? Hunh. You know, my email’s been acting kind of wonky lately and maybe that’s why I never got it…”

I ended up contacting the author to let her know that, for certain reasons, I was not going to be able to review her book. Now, I know what you’re thinking: But, Quanie! She asked you for a review. You should have read it and gave your honest opinion. Reviews aren’t for the author anyway. They’re for readers!”

But I’m a big softie, ya’ll. And if I know in my heart that I won’t be able to give a book at least three stars, I’d rather not review it than leave a negative review. I just don’t like hurting people’s feelings.

Now that I’m independently publishing my own books, I think about that situation. If an author buddy of mine reads one of my books and expresses that they enjoyed it, I’ll ask them to leave a review, sure. But otherwise, I never solicit friends for reviews. Never. Even if they have a tee shirt that reads, “I will read your book and leave a 5 star review even if I don’t like it!” Never ever never. Why not? Because there’s a good that my friends would rather pour habanero juice in their eyes than read my books. So I tread very carefully.

What about others? What would you do if a fellow author asked you to review their book and it turns out you didn’t like it? Would you feel bad leaving a “negative” review? Would you decline to review it??? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 


72 thoughts on “Would you Give a Fellow Author a Negative Book Review?

  1. I hate saying negative things about books because I know how much time and effort writers put into those babies. I had a review policy on my blog that I would only finish and post reviews for books 3-stars or more. I like to be honest about books, but no matter how you phrase things, writers will get their feelings hurt.

    PS: I unsubscribed to the comments on one blog post, not realizing that I’d unsubscribed to your blog! I was wondering why you weren’t blogging these days. Nice to catch up with you, Quanie 🙂
    Dee Connell recently posted..Books on Writing to Improve Your CraftMy Profile

  2. I don’t offer to do reviews on my blog and so far, have only written reviews on Goodreads for books that I’ve chosen to read, and have mostly liked. When I tweet that I’ve just bought a book and I’m looking forward to reading it, I’ll sometimes get tweets or DMs asking for an Amazon or Goodreads reviews when I’ve finished it.
    In these cases I will still only write a review if I’ve liked the book – afterall, just because I was looking forward to a book doesn’t mean to say that will actually enjoy it, that’s the author’s job. If I don’t like a book as much as I thought I would, I’ve emailed the author instead and praised what I could, then explained, for me, what didn’t work. That way it’s kept private and doesn’t discourage anyone else from reading it who may end up liking it more than I did.
    You’ve got a great blog and discussion going on here Quanie, well done.

    Best wishes,
    Mark.
    Mark Tilbury recently posted..We Are Not AmusedMy Profile

  3. I will never give a bad review. Like you, I will only review books I can find some redeeming quality in. Notice I leave myself open to giving a good review to a book I don’t like? That’s because, as a writer, I know the whole book love thing is subjective. I didn’t like the Hunger Games. Does that make them bad books? Not at all. They make them books I think would appeal to people who are into the dystopian thing. And if I hate a book, or see such horrendous flaws in the story- then I will either pretend I never read it or inbox the writer.

    If I was getting paid to be a reviewer, I might see it differently and take reviews more seriously.

  4. This is such a tough one, Quanie. I’ve only read a couple of books from author friends which were pretty dreadful. In both cases, I wrote fair reviews and only stated anything I liked, as hard as that may have been to find. And after I read their first book and offered the review, I declined any others. It’s such an awkward situation and I feel terrible writing bad reviews for anyone so I simply don’t write them. I try to take whatever good I can from the book and use this during the review process.
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  5. I do read books that were written by people I know and I review them. My reviews give my honest opinion. This is why I don’t write up a review of a book I didn’t like (whether I know the person or not). As an author, I know people will write good and bad reviews of what I write and I do enjoy reading reviews of books. But, I don’t have the heart to write a negative review. Either I will contact the author and say thanks, but I can’t review it or I will try to ignore the review (this happened one or twice years ago and now I try to be more sure when I agree to review a book written by someone I know).

    What an interesting topic to think about. Thanks for sharing your experience with us. 🙂
    Stephanie@Fairday’s Blog recently posted..Monday’s Riddle: A Mysterious Track…My Profile

  6. …there’s no easy answer to this. O_o I think if I felt I could only honestly leave a bad review, I’d talk to my friend first, and tell them why I didn’t like the book. It seems like it’d be better to get that hashed out between us, instead of posting a negative review and waiting with my guts in knots for them to read it and get mad at me. I’ve dealt with friends not liking my stories before, so as long as everyone’s civil about it, hopefully it wouldn’t become an issue.

    As for asking friends for reviews, noooooooo. I’ll ask for critique on a work-in-progress, sure. But I’d never ask a friend to post a review of my book in public. If they want to, great. But I don’t want them to feel obligated, or to make it seem like I’m asking them to do free promotion. >_<
    Mason T. Matchak recently posted..Getting Personal.My Profile

  7. I won’t leave a negative review either. If there are parts of the book I like, I’ll point them out and mention (carefully) the parts that didn’t appeal to me. There was once an author friend (a really nice guy) who supported me by writing a review for my first book without me asking, and I know he really wants me to review his book (though he also didn’t ask directly). I bought his book, read it, and enjoyed the writing (thought I could give him at least a 4*) but towards the end, I was confused. There wasn’t much of a climax impending. When the story ended, I was befuddled. That’s it? That was the ending? It just didn’t feel complete for me and I knew honestly I’d have given it a 2.5*. But I didn’t want to. So I just go on pretending I haven’t got to his book yet. It’s not a great feeling, but I don’t think I could bear to give his efforts a mere 2.5*.
    Claudine @ CarryUsOff Books recently posted..2 Reviews, 2 Pins & Here We Go {Finally}!My Profile

    • I think you did the right thing. I know I probably would have done the same thing. I was in a similar situation. I tried reading a book by an author I know but I honestly didn’t enjoy the story so I just left it alone. I think that’s better than ruining a friendship because no matter what people say, the fact that you left them a negative review will always be in the back of their mind.
      Quanie recently posted..Would you Give a Fellow Author a Negative Book Review?My Profile

  8. OH yeah, them’s dangerous waters. I won’t leave bad reviews, either, and in fact I do exactly what you did – send a message saying, “I’m sorry, but I won’t be able to review this.” It might hurt someone’s feelings, but better to hurt them that way than by slamming the book they worked so hard to write.

    I have seen some sites and bloggers who state, outright, that they will only ever write honest reviews – and so anyone who asks them to review knows that they do so at their own risk. That’s probably the only way to deal with it as a fellow writer.
    Liz Blocker (@lizblocker) recently posted..Re-Entry Problems, and A Cloudland ExcerptMy Profile

  9. Dear Quanie,
    I am a young, self-published author who was so excited to release my first book that (maybe) some of my editing process got rushed. Therefore, there were mistakes. I am only human. But I was so proud, and excited, for my five year novel to finally be readable to others. But when other people, who may or may not have been authors, tore my book apart in two seconds I felt that I no longer wanted to write. It was devastating to say the least. But then, other people came forward. Even though they knew the novel had some grammar issues, they thought the content and story was wonderful. Those people were the ones who restored my faith in my writing.
    So towards your article, if you truly didn’t love the novel that’s fine. It is fine to not like novels; we can’t like every book ever written. But I believe there is a fine line between giving a truthful review and being purposefully hurtful. When I write reviews of books, I typically mention my own book interests and what exactly didn’t suit me. Because if another person reads it, and likes those things, then they could know if the novel was for them.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this.

    Raven

    • Hi Raven,

      Congrats on getting your book published! You must be so proud. There’s always criticism when it comes to writing. Unfortunately, that’s just part of the game. Writers have to have thick skin because people don’t always give criticism in the nicest way. When you publish something and it’s out there for the public to see, it really puts you in a vulnerable place. The important thing is to surround yourself with other writers and hopefully some friends and family who believe in your vision. I hope you keep writing and pursuing your dreams. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

  10. Quanie,
    Very interesting topic, as is obvious from the number of responses you’ve received.

    It’s a delicate path to trod regarding reviews for fellow authors. I’ve not been asked very often because with only one book out in a niche genre (science fiction romance), no one knows me.

    When I am asked, I immediately write back and tell them “Yes” or “No.” I’m selfish and busy enough that I won’t read a book where the blurb is bad, or it’s a genre I hate, or the email is impersonal or badly written, or what they really need is a beta reader, not a reviewer. If it sounds interesting enough for me to read, I’ll agree and tell them my policy: I will only post a review if I can give it 4 or 5 stars. If I’d have to give it under 4 stars, I’ll write a brief email that says so, and offer to provide more detail as to why. I don’t offer constructive criticism unless asked, because I’ve had a couple of people reply with long, angry diatribes as to why my opinion totally sucks.

    It’s a sticker wicket if a fellow author is offering to trade reviews. I’ve only had one of those requests, and fortunately, the other author’s book was good and deserved the four stars I gave it. I hope she’ll do the same for me. It was enough of an ethical gray area that I don’t think I’ll do it again unless I know the author personally and have a connection with him or her.
    Carol Van Natta recently posted..Plans for 2015My Profile

    • Hi Carol,

      You know, I was going to mention review swaps but the post was getting way too long. I’ve been asked to do them before, mostly via Goodreads, and I always decline (politely). With all the comments here it’s making me rethink how I’ll go about reviews in the future. Others have said that they won’t post a review unless they can give a book 4 or 5 stars, and I don’t see anything wrong with that. And I think it’s great to only give the criticism when people ask. Otherwise, things can get nasty quick. People are sensitive about their work. Thanks for stopping by!
      Quanie recently posted..Would you Give a Fellow Author a Negative Book Review?My Profile

  11. Hi, Quanie,
    I try to be as tactful as possible when writing reviews. I have been known to write to the author and alert him/her of the problem I had with his/her book. So far, that has gone over well. It’s not my goal to tear anyone’s work apart, but I cringe when I find so many obvious and fixable mistakes; I’m embarrassed for the author. One author was so grateful about the list I sent her – and horrified over the MANY fixables even after she paid someone to edit for her – she immediately had her book properly edited and reprinted.
    I really don’t like reading books that are self-published when the author does not take the time to be sure it’s as near error free as possible.
    I understand how eager an author can be to get that book out there, and to cut corners in expense, but it’s so important to present one’s best work, I believe. I hope to be able to say that’s what I did one day. 🙂
    Great topic!
    Lynn A. Davidson recently posted..What makes you smile?My Profile

  12. I’m so totally late to this party, and have nothing new to add, lol! But, with that said, I absolutely agree with what some of the others have said. If I can’t leave an honest 4 or 5 stars, I don’t leave a review at all. And I’m kind of an easy lay, lmbo. I’m generous with my stars, for the most part. I just don’t see what value it could possibly bring to that author for me to publicly offer my negative opinion of their work, and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth towards authors I’ve seen do it. Just make *you* (the author leaving a negative review) look petty and nasty. If the goal is the offer constructive criticism, you can do so privately, and honestly, I would caution against even that, if it’s not solicited. Can you imagine someone who you don’t even know inviting themselves into your inbox to give you a chapter by chapter break down of what was wrong with your book? yikes!
    Christina Jones recently posted..From Fall In Love Again – SaltyMy Profile

  13. oh man, such a sticky situation!!! I’m the type that’ll try to be as honest as possible, highlighting things I thought were good if I do a review, but oh man, just thinking about it gives me anxiety, haha. I think it’s good to read/review as much as possible and help fellow authors but yeah, if something’s AWFUL, I wouldn’t know what to do. Maybe I’d try the “my kitten ate my Kindle?” thing and see how that went…

  14. I don’t do bad reviews because if I didn’t like the book, I don’t finish it. Life’s too short and there are too many books! TBH, I am only moved to review if it’s a book I loved that I want to shout about from the rooftops, so I don’t really leave 3 star reviews even. As for requesting friends to review or accepting one from a friend, well I haven’t been in that situation but I can only imagine it would lead to hurt feelings if it was a bad review or I declined. I’d rather reach out to book bloggers who aren’t necessarily friends on a more “professional” author-reviewer basis.

  15. Quanie, I’m loving this topic!!! I have soooo much to say about it, and would probably get long-winded and bog down your blog, so I’ll try to keep it short (hopefully).

    One thing I hate about reviews on Amazon is seeing an over-abundance of five-star reviews for any particular book. I think reviews hold more credibility when there’s a variety of stars (3 star, 4 stars, etc.). Especially, when the lower star reviews are very constructive and shows the reader actually read the book by providing story details of what they liked and disliked, and aren’t harshly attacking the author.

    I prefer not to give a fellow author a negative review, but I’m a strong believer in honest reviews and if I couldn’t get into the story, I would tell the author the book wasn’t for me and ask if they still want me to leave a review. I also try not to tell an author I’m reading their book until after I’ve started reading and feel like I can give it a good review. I always try to give honest reviews and provide specific details to let the author know I actually read the book (not skimmed it), because those are the kinds of reviews I want—honest, detailed ones. I think we grow stronger as writers if people tell us the truth and not blow smoke up our butts with 5-star reveiws that they truly felt should’ve been a 3 or 4.

    Personally, I don’t give 5-star reviews unless a book has totally blown me away and leaves such an impact on me that I’m still thinking about it weeks and weeks after I’ve read it. For me, 5-stars means the book was PHENOMENAL, changes my perspective, leaves me speechless, and wishing I was as brilliant a crafter of words and story like that author (which doesn’t happen often). Therefore, when I’m blown away, I want to reward a book with the highest possible mark. However, I do realize not everyone view the star rating system as I do, and depending upon the level of weight the person reviewing your book puts on the stars determines their perception of a 5-star book. We don’t all view things the same, and nor should we.

    I read a lot of well-written, great books I enjoy, in which I give them 4-star reviews. To me, 4-stars means it’s a great read, riveting plot, and I would definitely reccomend it to others. Unfortunately, some authors feel if you don’t give 5-stars then you’re shunning their book. I don’t think that way. Plus, I don’t succumb to the “you give me 5, I’ll give you 5” type of thinking. It’s dishonest. I used to play that game, but I’ve grown and know better now. As Maya Angelou said, “When you know better, you do better.”

    I’m not knocking 5-star reviews (every author wants them, including me), but when I see wayyy too many of them and none of the other stars, I start to question their validity (even the 5-star reviews for my own book).

    Sorry, Quanie, I couldn’t keep it short. 🙂
    Demetria Foster Gray recently posted..January Has No Power (re-post)My Profile

    • Hi Demetria,

      You don’t ever have to worry about keeping it short here! I welcome all opinions, however long or brief. I agree with you about books that have various star ratings. Sometimes (but not all of the time) when I see a book with all 5 star ratings it makes me wonder if the author’s family and friends are leaving those reviews! I know that’s not always the case (especially if the author has a loyal fan base and is a terrific story teller), but when I preview a book that’s poorly written or edited that still has nothing but 5* ratings, I definitely give that the side eye!
      Quanie recently posted..Would you Give a Fellow Author a Negative Book Review?My Profile

  16. As an author, I appreciate all comments and suggestions. I like to be fair in my book reviews. If there is something that isn’t working, or doesn’t make sense it should np be brought to authors attention. Saying your work is great when it’s not doesn’t help the author or reader. I have had situations where I have swapped books for reviews, and the books I read were not that good. I tried to put positive spin on it, the characters were well developed but the plot needs work, but sometimes my fellow authors don’t agree with my opinion. I was told putting in the review the book had foul language and self harm was not appropriate, yet this was a book for young adults. As a mom, this is information I would want to know. I’ve had bad reviews written on my book, and Good reviews as well, I read and ponder and sometimes use them for bettering my craft. At the end of the day, if you are being respectful and kind no your book sucks reviews it should be up to you what you post in the review.

    • Hi Michelle,

      I also enjoy hearing all comments and suggestions. Sometimes people bring up things you hadn’t thought of (but some readers will hate things that other readers loved, so sometimes you have to take the feedback with a grain of salt). I also believe that every reviewer has the right to express themselves however they want, even if this means them saying things that others may perceive as crass or hurtful. I personally wouldn’t take that route in a review, but everyone has a right to their opinion. Thanks for stopping by:)
      Quanie recently posted..Would you Give a Fellow Author a Negative Book Review?My Profile

  17. Publishing is an open market with so many outlets now. Everybody’s got a story but everybody’s not equipped to write the story. It’s a bit frustrating to read a badly written story. It’s so hard to get through it because I tend to read as one who will enjoy the experience and then the English teacher comes out in me. You should’ve been honest, Quanie. That’s what friends are for, remember that song? LoL Better you than me, girl.
    totsymae1011 recently posted..Freedom of Expression – A Right and ResponsibilityMy Profile

  18. When I read the title of this post in inbox I started salivating (just a little) because this is something I struggle with! I’m a softie when it comes to reviewing books as well and I’m the first to simply not review something by a author buddy that I simply don’t like, or that read too poorly for me to even finish.

    My issue is that I’m a sucker for free books, so I’ve signed up for a few sites that will send me review copies straight from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. So once I receive the book, I’m obligated to review it. I try to choose carefully, and pick books I have a good feeling I’ll like, but sometimes I miss mark and I’m stuck in a pickle! That’s when my gift of diplomacy comes into full effect. I try to pick one positive about the book and then give my negatives…I’m pretty sure that anyone who reads my reviews can tell the difference from when I REALLY liked a book and when I’m trying to be nice about the fact that it wasn’t the best read for me.
    Faith Simone recently posted..Author Spolight: Adrienne Thompson!!!My Profile

    • I laughed when you said you’re a sucker for free books (you should consider getting that put on a tee shirt:). But being obligated to review it? I mean, what do they do if you don’t? Come to your house and rough you up??? Or do they just ban you from the site and then bad-mouth you online??? I think you’re doing the right thing by focusing on the positives before you give your negatives. At least you try to say something good!
      Quanie recently posted..Would you Give a Fellow Author a Negative Book Review?My Profile

      • LOL! I probably should look into a t-shirt with that on it! I saw an author on facebook offering a free download of her book for one day only. I didn’t immediately hop on Amazon to download it, figuring I would do it later on my laptop instead of my phone, and I actually woke up in the middle of the night mad because I forgot about it. So yes, I do indeed have a problem!

        And I don’t know if those book blogger sites would send Tiny and ’em to rough me up or not, but I’m afraid to find out! I have SO MANY books that I’ve needed to review for the last few months, so maybe we’ll find out soon…
        Faith Simone recently posted..Author Spolight: Adrienne Thompson!!!My Profile

  19. Now that’s a conundrum. I haven’t been in such a situation yet but I wouldn’t give a review unless I really loved it. I’ll read it as a way to give some constructive criticism. Like what I liked or disliked about it, what needs more tweaking, problems with character, etc. It also depends on the genre too. I’m not really into science fiction so I could not in good conscious say yes to reviewing it or for feedback purposes. Because already I’m being biased against it and I like to read books with an open mind and positive thinking.
    lidy recently posted..7  Ways To Be a More Productive WriterMy Profile

  20. Good question! I have never been asked to do a review but I’ve done beta reads. Fortunately, I’ve been given great stories. However, if I were doing reviews, I would feel more comfortable with going to the writer privately with my concerns as opposed to publicly blasting them. I’d likely give him/her the choice on if the review should be posted because they may see a review, be it a no-star or 5 star, as publicity.

    • I’ve actually taken this approach in some cases where I’d been asked to review a book by an author. If I’m inclined to give a less than stellar review I’ll consult with the author beforehand to let them know and see if they want my review to be public. I’ve always had the author indicate that they’d rather have the review than not have one.

      I’m often very suspicious when every review on a book is a great one with little substance in the review text to tell me why. A few bad reviews that are well written adds far more credibility to a book in my estimation. More than once have I purchased a book on the basis of the bad reviews it has received.

      Lee
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  21. I actually attended a workshop where an accomplished literary agent spoke very passionately about this. She said never, ever, ever leave a bad review for a fellow author once you’re published (or if you hope to be published, for that matter). The publishing industry is a small world, she says, and that author you offend likely has an agent and/or editor you’ll also offend, who may be a friend of your own agent/editor. If not, you could end up seated next to that person at a panel in future years and how awkward would that be?

    That said, when I blogged on a topic similar to this, there were authors who adamantly defended their right to be a part-time book reviewer and build an audience that way. I can’t speak to self-publishing/small presses. It may work differently in those circles? I will say that if I read a book and can’t find a single nice things to say, I say nothing at all. Every review gets five stars from me or I don’t review it. It helps that I fully believe even a book I deem as “bad” may be someone else’s “good.” I feel fiction is very subjective.
    Stephanie Faris recently posted..Honesty is Such a Lonely WordMy Profile

      • I feel like, unfortunately, once you’re published you have to make a choice. It’s the same for filmmakers, I guess. They can’t be successful filmmakers and movie reviewers. But the Internet has turned the world into reviewers. Reviews are now “crowdsourced” instead of being provided by skilled, professional reviewers, so you really have to take anything you read with that in mind.
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  22. I’m willing to give direct constructive feedback to a friend but I won’t risk doing a book review. A negative review risks too much pettiness and retaliation in an already drama prone industry. And I feel that even a positive review is a risk. You don’t want to wave your arms and get publicity connected to another writer only to find out six months later they’re a nut job.

    • You are SO RIGHT. I was going to touch on retaliation in this post but it was getting too long. But I’ve heard of authors one starring another author’s work out of spite. And I hadn’t even thought about getting connected to someone you later find out is crazy. The only thing I can say about that is to run and don’t look back! Thanks for stopping by:)
      Quanie recently posted..Would you Give a Fellow Author a Negative Book Review?My Profile

  23. I’m the same way, Quanie. If I can’t leave at least a three-star review, I’m not going to review any book. (Funny, I don’t feel the same way about movies. But if I was a fellow filmmaker, I probably would.) If the book is that of a friend’s, or an author who has gifted me a book in a contest or something, to be honest, I’m not going to leave a review if I can’t offer a four or five-star review. I think the feeling here falls somewhere along the idea of people who live in glass houses not throwing stones.
    Reese Ryan recently posted..Cupid, Psyche and…Mom #MWTease #Bad Boys Gone GoodMy Profile

  24. Knocking on all kinds of wood this has not, so far, happened to me. Now I may have left reviews that authors have not been all the way impressed with, but so far, I’m very selective on which books I chose to review. The subject or synopsis has to appeal to me first, making it easy, no matter what’s written, to write a constructive review. Another thing that helps, is I buy the majority of the books I review. Authors generally are happy with this; i.e. free publicity, a solid constructive review, and a few coins in their pocket on top of it.

    But good for you on the way you handled this.
    RYCJ recently posted..Warms My HeartMy Profile

    • I think being selective about the books you review is definitely the way to go. If you accept everything and don’t like most of what you read, you’ll be unhappy because you’re reading books you don’t like and the authors will be unhappy because they didn’t get a glowing review. And you buy the books you review? I’m sure the authors are happy about that!
      Quanie recently posted..Would you Give a Fellow Author a Negative Book Review?My Profile

  25. I’m with you Quanie! I would have declined as well. Much as I love comment shirts, you won’t see me wearing one that reads “Kick me” 🙂 But reviews are indeed important and since basically we’re all “Fellow Authors”, I prefer to rely on unbiased (someone who isn’t friend, family or ‘fellow’ anything) reviewers. For instance, I once left ten copies of a young adult book with a yard full of school bus drivers and was pleasantly surprised at the reviews; good, bad and asking for a sequel!

  26. Once, a writer asked me to beta read for her. I agreed. She sent the book to me. I read the first few pages and…yup…facepalm. There were so many errors in the first two pages that I couldn’t read it anymore. I actually explained to the writer why I was stepping back. That’s right…I said that there was too much wrong, but of course I said it nicely and gave her tips. Like: Check your capitalization. A simple thing but she wasn’t Capitalizing the names of places correctly, and it was driving me nuts fixing it all. In the first two pages! I also found out she hadn’t even edited it before asking me to beta read, so I made sure to tell her that betas look at a story after you’re done editing it.

    I always try to be nicer when I review a book for an author I know. I make sure to mention the things I liked and very briefly say what I didn’t, but I don’t dwell on it or drag it out like I’m inflicting a long, painful wound.
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  27. I have been in that predicament many times. I normally just inform the author that the book wasn’t for me and I warn them that my review will show it. It is hard to write a negative review, being an author because no matter if the book is good or not, we all know the blood and sweat it took to create it.

  28. I feel honesty is a reflection on my own integrity so I will not give a disingenuous book review just to prevent bad feelings. If I must include some negativity in the review I try my best to make in constructive and give it all a positive spin. I like to try to find the good in everything in an “E for effort” sort of way.

    If my assessment is going to be negative I will avoid reviewing the work of someone with whom I have some kind of relationship that I want to maintain. Some folks have a difficult time dealing with honesty no matter how much it has been qualified with strong backing argument and explanation. To me, if you put yourself out in the public eye then you should be ready to toughen your skin against unflattering assessments of your work. Of course none of us wants to hear bad things about what we’ve poured our hearts, souls, and time into, but we should be willing to listen to the advice that helps us become better at what we do.

    Like Burnita said, the situation can be a Catch 22 (to use another literary reference).

    Lee
    Arlee Bird recently posted..Who’s Watching You?My Profile

  29. A few authors have asked me for book reviews and I have always declined because I don’t want to be in such a predicament. Besides that if I honestly didn’t like it I would hate to leave a bad review. Of greatest importance is remembering that reading is subjective so I try to keep that in mind when I read for leisure and review books. I usually just pick stars and leave it at that.

  30. Writing a review is a lot more serious than just reading the stuff. I send out some of my writing ( short stories) to my friends and they are free to comment, not comment, blame the email. Salient point. . . they ask to read what I am writing. I don’t think I would ever ask a friend to review my book. An acquaintance of mine once asked me to review his unpublished novel. As I read the first page I fully understood why it was unpublished. I returned the manuscript immediately stating tha I simply “couldn’t get into it”. He was an acquaintance and I didn’t feel I had to tiptoe around his feelings. You raise a very good point
    though. This makes me wonder if I should ever send any work to my friends.

    • Hi Isobel, I think that if your friends are asking to read your work, that says a lot about your writing: they like it! So I don’t think you need to worry about that particular group of friends. I used to get asked quite often to give my opinion on a piece of writing (don’t ask me why. It’s not like I’m some writing guru!) and sometimes I would try to find something positive to say about the work even if it didn’t work for me at all. It can be tough, giving what is perceived as negative feedback to a friend. I don’t know if I could ever do it. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!
      Quanie recently posted..Would you Give a Fellow Author a Negative Book Review?My Profile

  31. Hey Quanie,

    Wow, that’s almost a “Sophie’s Choice” level question. I think I would have to decline to review it and suffer hurt feelings for a short time. If you give and honest and sad review, those words will never leave your friend’s head. And at some point will come back to haunt you. Poor reviews hurt, even just the star ratings with no narrative sting. My friends tell me how they can’t wait to read my book. Then there’s just silence. I chalk it up to, “well my writing is not for everyone,” but silence speaks volumes. 🙂 Friends asking for reviews, no win situation, unless of course, it’s brilliant. Then your feelings are hurt cuz you’re left saying, “I wish I could write like that.” Run!
    Burnita recently posted..AFRICAN-AMERICAN AUTHORSMy Profile

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