Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Writing Wednesday: The Responsible Reviewer

I didn't post a book review this week for the first time in a while.

It's not that I haven't been reading. I'm always reading.

It's more that I'm conflicted. I promised a few reviews to a few different people.... and didn't like their books. It happens on occasion. But not usually a few in a row like this. I've counseled others in the past about just this circumstance... and yet got myself into this position again.

Which makes me wonder about my own books, and the difficulty of garnering reviews. Do people feel that way when they read my book? Like, yeah I can't leave a good review so I won't leave one. Or maybe my reviews have rubbed other authors the wrong way and they don't feel they need to return the courtesy? It must be something.

But back to my current dilemma.

Books are subjective. We each like what we like, and have particular tastes for what "works" and what doesn't. For example, as I ranted a few weeks ago, head hopping drives me insane. Certain plot situations trigger me and / or make me delete a book immediately from my Kindle. I'm not going to leave a "did not finish" review - that's not fair to anyone. But.

How do you separate liking a person from not liking their book? And what do you tell them?

Do you tell them?

On a related topic - how can authors ask others for reviews when they don't return the favor? Not that it's a tit-for-tat kind of thing, but it does seem unfair in some way.

What are your rules for asking others for reviews, and for leaving reviews of your own? I look forward to hearing some opinions... and perspective...

Happy Writing - and Reading!

 

15 comments:

  1. Sweetie -I can certainly sympathize with your dilemma. I review on Netgalley and there are many books I've requested and been granted that have just felt 'Meh" or that I didn't like the way it was written, or a 1000 other things that just made the book not for me. It's hard because as writers ourselves, we know how much blood, sweat, tears, and thought went into the book from the author and we don't want to denigrate their work because we wouldn't want that done to us. Unfortunately, with Netgalley you have to put a star rating even if you DNF - which is ridiculous. I've never given less than a 3 and then stated the book was well written but just not for me. Does that help the author? Probably not, but at least I am not lambasting them. As far as requests from authors I like and know, I'm gonna consider myself lucky that I've never received a book from any of them that didn't resonate with me on some level. Maybe not a 5 star review, but a solid 4 or 4.5. In those cases, I state what I liked about the book and not the stuff I didn't ( if I didn't!)> Any way - rock:hard place. If you truly didn;t like the book and don't post anything at all or tell the author why you'r enot posting, I think the message is clear. It doesn't make you a bad person, just not a lover of that book. The people that love and respect you as an author, reviewer, and friend, will still love you as an author, reviewer and friend! At least, I will! 'Nuff said!

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    1. Thanks for stating this so well, Peggy. I forgot NetGalley required a rating - I stopped requesting books from another review service because I didn't like being "forced" to leave reviews. I also stopped being a review tour host for the same reason. When did people stop hiring editors?

      Thanks for your insight!

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  2. If I find I cannot give a book a 4 or 5-star rating, I send the review to the author and ask if she still wants me to post it. Usually they say do not post. This has worked well for me so far.
    Thanks for a thoughtful blog!

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    1. Susan, that's a great idea. Thanks for chiming in!

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  3. I'll write a fairly generic review so that I can still keep my promise, but don't write a bad review or lie about it.

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    1. And do you leave stars, or post to Goodreads and/or Amazon?

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  4. I've also run into this situation a few times. If I thought the book was poorly written, I don't write a review, but if I just didn't like the book because I didn't like the main character or something, I'll write a review, but only talk about the things in the book I liked. The stars are another issue. I've never rated anyone below a four star. Three just seems too low.

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  5. Jennifer, I'm with you on the generic reviews. Writing a bad review is like telling someone their baby is ugly. However I only give five stars to the books that earn them. usually it's a three for average or a four for liked. I've rarely given anything lower then that.

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  6. I've since stopped doing review exchanges, for that exact reason. Sometimes their book just isn't for me. In the one time I had to give the woman a review, I emailed her and explained, then asked her if she still wanted me to post. She took it well. For the most part, though, I always strive to be polite in my reviews. I state what I liked, and if it's less than 4 or 5 stars, I say what I didn't like. Again, being careful of *how* I say it. I don't want blast someone anymore than I want to be blasted. If it's an author I know and I really hated the book, I simply won't leave a review, though. Because I don't want any backlash. As an author being reviewed, I'm okay with people leaving reviews stating what they didn't like about it. As long as they're not insulting. I mean, I can't learn and grow if everybody just loves my books. It's only the insulting, mean reviews that get me.

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  7. Great post Katie. It's a tough situation. I've found myself in that review exchange scenario and although I find an author's writing to be good, if I can't stand the story, it makes it really tough. I agree that if you don't feel you can give it a 4 or a 5, then don't do the review. Or, give a generic one that highlights what was good. For the record, I think you right incredibly detailed and fair reviews...

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  8. I've been in the position a few times, never a good place to be. I agree with everyone that's posted. Liked the idea of sending it to the author, but not posting, leaving it to them. I try to give 4 or 5 stars, when I do review. I like a lot of different genres. Luckily, I've enjoyed most the books read from close fellow authors. If I don't like the book, but it's well written, I'll state the book wasn't for me, but if you like what ever it was you might want to check it out.Reviews are tough to get and even tougher to give, sometimes. Great Post Katie!

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  9. I don't do review exchanges or for fellow authors that I have any type of relationship with or that are published by same publishing houses/small presses that I am with. I had an unfortunate experience where I posted a review for a book by an author in one of the above scenarios. I liked the book overall and gave a 4 star review, but stated there were a couple of small timeline issues and some improper use of apostrophes. (Improper use of apostrophes is a huge, huge pet peeve of mine so it was hard not to mention it. There were a number of times where a word ended in the plural and it would include an apostrophe i.e. book's instead of books and the book was edited by one of the publisher's in-house editors. I didn't mention any of this in the review just that there were some issues with improper apostrophe use.) Despite the 4 star review and pointing out the minor issues mentioned above, I received a bunch of insulting personal comments from the friends and family of the writer. Lesson learned. No more reviews.

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  10. I got into this situation the very first time I agreed to do a review exchange. The book was really not for me, but I'd promised so I wrote a generic review. A word the he wise; if you agree to one of these things, it's a good idea to have read your exchange partner's books so you know it's a fit. I've never done another book review exchange. If I review something now, it's because I really like it.

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  11. Hi Katie, Well I'm late enough to this comments section that by now I want to know what you decided to do after all this good advice! I hope you'll do a follow up blog. The only thing I'll add is it's always good to have a plan for moving forward when it comes to these types of things. It looks like you're well on your way to conceiving something that works well for you.

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