19 Comments

  1. Kilian Metcalf
    April 11, 2012 @ 5:41 am

    I am also reluctant to give less than rave reviews. I’m not a professional reviewer, so I have no obligation to review books if I don’t want to or if I don’t like them. I like to give good reviews to books I would recommend to a friend or think is so well written that I want other people to find the same pleasure that I did in the writing. Sometimes I am inhibited by professional ethics. I would never review a book I have been associated with in some way: editor, beta reader, critique group member. How could I possibly be objective? I realize that reviews aren’t really objective, based on the reviews I’ve read. They are really just our own personal reactions to someone else’s work, and it’s probably impossible to be objective, but I prefer to leave my opinions uncluttered by some personal relationship with the author. My 2 cents.

    Reply

    • alicamckennajohnson
      April 12, 2012 @ 4:41 pm

      Thanks Kilian- I agree reviewing books you’ve worked on would be tricky. It’s best to not cross those sticky lines. 🙂

      Reply

  2. Rhonda Hopkins
    April 11, 2012 @ 6:14 am

    This is going to sound wussy. But on Amazon, I feel I can be honest with my reviews. I don’t comment under my full name and there is no picture. On Goodreads, I only review books that I can give 3 or better. However, it’s usually only 4’s or 5’s. I had a given someone a 3 one time on Amazon and that was being generous. Actually the story was a 5. The editing, formatting, and writing were really really bad. I would have given it a 1. So I split the difference. I talked about all the positive things I liked and why I lowered the score. I even said I would try the author again in the hopes that some of these same mistakes wouldn’t be made as I felt he had potential. He apparently immediately sent his friends to champion him. I honestly felt I was trying to help him make a better book for next time. Not that I know everything. I’m well aware I don’t. And there are things I don’t catch in my own manuscripts. Thank goodness for my critique partners and beta readers!
    If I can’t legitimately give a friend a good review, I don’t write one. Depending on how good a friend we are and if I can be honest, I’ll point out some things I had problems with, if it’s a self-pubbed author as those can usually be changed. I wouldn’t say anything to someone who was published traditionally as there is usually nothing that can be done at that point. If I offer any critique it really is with the intention of making it a better piece. I’d want someone to be honest with me as I want my work to be the best it can be. But, yeah…I’d much prefer that in private if I know the person rather than through public reviews.
    And if you know me and I haven’t reviewed your book, like Alica, I just haven’t read it yet or had the time to post the review. I’ll get to it soon! 

    Reply

    • alicamckennajohnson
      April 12, 2012 @ 4:43 pm

      How rude! That is why I’m afraid of doing a review of a book that I don’t love- I don’t want the backlash of an angry author and their minions. Thanks Rhonda I’m glad I’m not along in this mine field.

      Reply

  3. elainecharton
    April 11, 2012 @ 6:20 am

    Years back, I did some reviews and only once did I have a problem and didn’t like something,
    The premise of the story was just something I could not believe. What to do? I found at least two or three good things that I did like and started and ended the review with that.

    On a more personal note, and I think I may have told you this. I once received a review of one of my books that just totally tore the book apart. Turns out the reviewer was someone who didn’t like romances at all. I just shrugged. I told michael that it made me feel as if I had finally made it.-

    Reply

    • alicamckennajohnson
      April 12, 2012 @ 4:44 pm

      LOL- I’ll try and remeber that for when I get my bad reviews. At least then I’ll know people I don;t know are reading it. Thanks Elaine!

      Reply

  4. charismaloy
    April 11, 2012 @ 7:49 am

    Personally, it depends. E-pub authors tend to have someway to contact them noted on the book. If they have a good idea and I think they have potential, I will give them a decent reveiw in public. Not lying, but emphasizing the good. I will, however, use their more private contact info to tell them where I think they can improve, while still endeavoring to let them know that I think the book is well worth a rework.

    There have been a few that are so poorly written that it is obvious that the author has no business putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) until they have: Read more books and less manga, taken a couple of basic English composition classes, lived a few more years in the real world, AND developed an imagination. These will get a blistering reveiw under my full name. It would not be a run-you-down-make-you-feel-like-trash reveiw, but it would be a firm don’t-quit-your-day-job type of reveiw. I would do it under my own name not only because I am shoot-myself-in-the-foot honest that way, but because I would want my readers to know that I pay attention to things like that.

    The big thing is to identify WHY you don’t like the book. If it is because it lacked a decent storyline (some do), was horribly proofread (way too many to count), or simply did not flow as a unified peice, I would submit a review. If I didn’t like it because there was too much swearing, it was written in dialect, I didn’t like the writer’s approach to the genre or something like that, I probably would not reveiw it at all. There is a difference between a poorly written book and a difference in taste.

    Reply

    • alicamckennajohnson
      April 12, 2012 @ 4:48 pm

      Good points Charis- and it sounds like another blog post opinion poll- do indie authors want people to send the private critiques if their book has serious formatting, grammar, and spelling issues?

      Reply

      • charismaloy
        April 13, 2012 @ 5:47 pm

        I would, but I am anal like that. I want a perfect product. Please, when I finally get published, let me know about typos and such that made it through my twenty pre-editor proofreads, plus the eyes of my editor. I will die a quick death of mortification, thank you profusely, and correct the problem as quickly as possible

        Reply

  5. Tiffany A White
    April 11, 2012 @ 4:38 pm

    I am also reluctant to give bad reviews… I don’t think there is anything wrong with only reviewing the 4 and 5 star books publicly. But maybe since you are indeed an author, you could (if you wanted) contact the book’s author privately and let them know your thoughts. As an author, I’d hate to see a bad review in print but would appreciate another writer’s thoughts.

    Reply

  6. Julie Glover
    April 11, 2012 @ 6:56 pm

    Like Rhonda, I only review books on Goodreads that get a 3 or better from me. (Except I did review a Roald Dahl lower, but who cares what I say about his books? It’s not like I’m going to have some impact on his career.) Maybe I’m chicken, but I do think terrible reviews could come back to bite you — especially if you don’t make a good case for your opinion. P.S. My TBR list rivals that picture too.

    Reply

    • alicamckennajohnson
      April 12, 2012 @ 4:49 pm

      My TBR list is so crazy- the only good thing about my computer not working is spending hours a day reading! Thanks Julie I’m glad I’m not the only one who limits their reviews.

      Reply

  7. CC MacKenzie
    April 11, 2012 @ 8:01 pm

    Hmm.

    This is a can of worms. If I wasn’t a writer I’d be prepared to wade in and say exactly why I loved/hated a book. If I do come across something that’s really badly written and littered with typos, spelling/grammar boobs I don’t read further and dump it so there’s no way I’d consider reviewing it.

    The thing is that I personally do not trust reviews on Amazon or elsewhere unless I see at least a few low scores, that tells me that peeps other than ‘friends’ have left a comment.
    I almost never leave a review – I need to seriously love it or find it befuddling.

    I did a review on a story that was a best seller that polarised opinion – actually I left a lengthy comment on a review of the book. It seriously did my head in because parts of it I loved and the rest of it I needed a gallon of wine to get through it was so tedious – in my opinion. But you see, that’s just my pov. It’s subjective. Plenty of others loved it and were happy to say so and it caused a right fire storm with someone telling me that I was a useless reviewer and crap human being. Sigh.

    I NEVER leave reviews for friends which might seem terribly unfair to them, but what if I hate it? And would she feel obligated to leave a fab review for me and hated mine? I’d lose the friend and all because of a story I don’t like? I don’t think so. Also what about the reader? I owe it to them to give an honest account of the story I read so if I hate it, it means compromising my honest opinion. Nope. I don’t do it. I don’t even click the ‘like’ box on Amazon if I don’t enjoy a story. And I never ‘auto’ click for a group or friend either.

    I leave the odd review on Goodreads of romances/paranormals I’ve enjoyed and never mention the duds simply because I don’t have the time. And Goodreads seriously does my head in because their site is too complicated to navigate – for me.

    A good friend of mine, who’s one of my crit partners, started a review site last year and was cooking on gas and being sent reams of free books from the big publishers. But she soon found herself in boiling water. Some books she couldn’t read so she sent them back saying they weren’t her ‘thing’ and the publishers accepted that no problem. The trouble started when a ‘friend’ self pubbed and at the same time was being published by a new ‘epublisher’ and she quite naturally wanted a five star review for her book from her buddy. Unfortunately the said ebook had major formatting issues, jumped between italics, times new roman and other glitches too numerous to mention. Also an intimate scene was unintentionally funny. So who was going to tell her? My opinion (easy for me to say since I wasn’t asked and she’s not a friend) was that since she’d asked for a review my friend needed to tell her the issues. But this author (seriously scary) is not a woman to cross. So my friend closed down her review site and has never reviewed another book because she’s a writer too and doesn’t want this person to cause her trouble when she publishes. See the problem?

    It might make me sound like a wuss but if you’re a writer I don’t think you can be a critical reviewer. Just my opinion because if you upset another writer then they and their friends are going to wade in and nuke you when you publish. UNLESS you do it under a different name and no one knows who you are.

    And do you have TIME for it? I’m not being a party pooper but I’d have a good hard think about becoming a reviewer because once the reader learns to trust you the reader must come first. You must stay true to your own values and beliefs. Who said this game was easy?

    Reply

    • CC MacKenzie
      April 11, 2012 @ 8:13 pm

      And I meant to add to War & Peace above. That if I absolutely adore a book or want to encourage a writer then I make it crystal clear on places like facebook or their blog and tell them to their face. It’s not for me to educate a writer that’s up to the individual him/herself to learn the craft.

      The other thing to remember is that the way people are reading is changing rapidly, it’s not only on ereaders, but on their phones too – that’s huge – so readers/YA are looking for something fast, pacy and exciting that gives them the hit they want when they want it. This is particularly true of romance – sensual sexy novellas are doing very very well.

      Reply

    • alicamckennajohnson
      April 12, 2012 @ 4:55 pm

      I definitely do not want to be a reviewer- no way- no how. I would like to leave reviews for books that I loved, that I couldn’t put down, that made to cry, laugh, or fall in love. The problem I run into- and seriously I need to stop- is I’ll put a book into my ‘reading’ category on goodreads and then what if I don’t like it? What if the author saw that I was reading it? What if they realize I only review 4 and 5 star books? ACK- okay so I’m a little dramatic LOL
      I feel like unless I’m reading a big name authors book I should hide the fact that I’m reading it at all until I’m finished and know what kind of a rating I’d give it.
      I’m adding War and Peace to my TBR list just for you C.C.! Thanks for your comments, they do help and I’m sorry your friend had such troubles, people can be so vicious!

      Reply

  8. Jennette Marie Powell
    April 12, 2012 @ 4:14 pm

    Oh wow, yup, this is a minefield. Before I published, I did not do reviews, because if I don’t like something, I won’t say I do… yet I was afraid of that karma thing. But after publishing, I realized how important reviews are, even if they’re less than glowing, and I started doing them – only for self or small-press/new authors. The big name authors don’t need my help, and yes, reviews are work. How I get around the karma is like you, I don’t review a book unless I’d give it at least a 3 (and usually a 4 or 5). My excuse is that a book I wouldn’t even give a 3, is one I normally won’t finish, and it’s my policy not to review books I don’t finish. However, I might talk about them on my blog, because I always try to analyze why a book didn’t work for me, and learn something from it. Last time I did this, the author stopped by, and pinged me on Facebook, and I was like “Oh s**t!” because I hadn’t named the book, not intending to out anyone. But I did point out what was done well, too. She was totally cool with it, we had a great conversation, and I believe we both learned from it! Oh, and yes, I’ll at least sample her next book!

    Reply

    • alicamckennajohnson
      April 12, 2012 @ 5:00 pm

      Isn’t a tricky one! I too want to help authors, especially my friends, but when I don’t like what they’ve written that’s when the nail biting starts.
      I normally wouldn’t read a book I’d give a 2 or 1 to also and I agree no reviewing book I haven’t read.
      I’m glad you had a positive experience, it’s good to know there are some sane authors out there somewhere LOL!

      Reply

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