This 34 message thread spans 3 pages: 2 3 > >
I unwisely stumbled into a reviewers group on Facebook - it's for writers (mainly self-published, I think) seeking reviews for their work on Amazon or Goodreads. I read impossibly fast, I'm spending too much money on e-books and I'm happy to post a good review for a decent read, so I thought, why not?
I found a novel that sounded interesting and the writer sent me a copy. Unfortunately, it's...not good. I can probably find a couple of nice things to say about it, and I really will try to err on the side of positivity, but there's no way I could give it 5 stars - quite frankly, 4 would be pushing it. And now that I've looked at some of the books reviewed by others on the site, 5 stats seem to be the norm. Gulp.
What I thought about doing was emailing the writer with a rough draft of what I might say about the book, and asking if he was okay with it being posted or not. Does this sound reasonable? What do you think?
I think sensible writers would require a number of realistic reviews than a ton of obviously contrived ones. (Somebody here has talked about looking for balance in reviews to filter for genuine ones...) I also think your review needs to be on your terms.
So, it depends on your assesment of how sensible the writers concerned are...
If the writers are sensible, or if it were me, they would appreciate the honesty. Giving the option would be an easy out for them, but bad reviews could actually boost credibility in some cases...
If, however, they are not sensible, opening the conversation may open a can of worms...
But either way, you need to respect your own integrity first. If you didn't like it, then you didn't like it. Even if they were given the option for you to post or not post, they should certainly not get any say in your use of words to do so.
Being a cowardy custard, I just wouldn't post any review at all and hope s/he didn't clock. Unless the writer knows your Amazon name, I can't see how they'd check up.
What I absolutely wouldn't do, though, is post a review I didn't believe. Even one I only semi-believed. So if they challenged it and asked why I hadn't posted, I'd have to say "I'm really sorry but this book just wasn't my personal cup of tea - I hope you understand".
Your offer to clear it with the writer is courageous and kind but I wouldn't do it personally. I think it can only end with ill-feeling and upset.
It seems to me the reviewers are expected to compromise their integrity in deference to ego-pandering.
If it were me, I would be straightforward and call a spade a spade. If a book is poor, then it should get the review it deserves.
So I would simply be honest (always the best policy.)
And if I were that writer I would greatly appreciate your honesty. And then decide to postpone publication until I was, at the very least, competent.
I would call it how you see it.
In my admittedly brief experience of reviewing in on-line forums though, the self published lot are the worst for taking it bad.
Personally, I would pursue self publishing for my own work but only after I've extensively exhausted all other options and only after a copy edit and professional critique service
I would strive to get off that site/page too if this goes bad. There's an economic imperative there by the sounds of it, whereas at least here & on other writer's sites it is about improving the writer's standard.
Perhaps confine your comments to a pure reader's perspective as opposed to a writer/reader's perspective, that might make things easier.
I agree with everything Flora said...that's how I would play it too.
Yes, I'm leaving the group - I've a horrible feeling less than glowing reviews are not exactly welcomed
I think I have to email the writer and let him know my thoughts, though - I'm sure he'd rather hear them privately than on a public site. And he can take note or disregard them as he pleases.
Yes, I agree that you have to be honest, if you have any kind of central core of integrity.
You can certainly be the nicest and kindest honest that's possible within that, but if you sense that that won't be enough for them then that's their bad luck. Anyone who solicits a review has to deal with the reviews they get.
And no, I wouldn't get in touch privately, myself. The reviewed have no right to censor or control what's reviewed (this side of defamation or factual inaccuracy or personal spite, obviously) and I wouldn't myself give them the chance.
So if you feel you would like to post this not-good review, then do.
On the other hand, if you feel that life is too short to deal with a flurry of online fuss and abusive emails, then just bow out.
You'd be doing him a favour if you PMed him with feedback, perhaps. But it sounds like that he won't thank you for it, and you're not morally obliged to give him that negative feedback, just as you're not morally obliged not to.
" I wouldn't get in touch privately, myself. "
as in, to check out a review before you post it.
Poor you, Astrea!
There are unfortunately loads of crawly bum-lick types willing to write fantastic reviews. There's someone I can't name on another site, who seems to like EVERYTHING he reads and always gives a glowing review and a high rating. No one has seen through him yet but then no one cares.
This reviewers own book is steadily 'climbing' the chart as people reciprocate but the writing is pretty poor, sort of 1st draft quality, good story, sometimes well executed but mostly in need of several rewrites.
But it's what they want. they aren't really interested in writing, they want all the other stuff. money, fame, blah blah. they should be actors or TV presenters.
|On the other hand, if you feel that life is too short to deal with a flurry of online fuss and abusive emails, then just bow out. |
Hmm, yes, I've a nasty feeling that's how it would end up. Oh dear. I'd be pretty gutted if I received the kind of feedback I'd have to give him if I was being completely honest - I wouldn't put a self-published book out in that state in the first place, but I'm pretty sure he's able to work out what 'I do think your novel would benefit from a further edit' really means.
And I really don't want to do the review anyway. Can't see how it would help him, and all my other ones are completely honest and genuine, and I'm pretty sure the 'trying to be kind but really this isn't good' aspect would shine through, no matter how careful I was.
Gosh, don't I say 'pretty' a lot? I've cracked down on it in my writing, but I see I will have to be more rigorous in my 'off-duty' posting as well!
(Threadnapped my own thread - impressive!)
|There's someone I can't name on another site, who seems to like EVERYTHING he reads and always gives a glowing review and a high rating. No one has seen through him yet but then no one cares.|
Having said that, I do thing some readers just do read immersively; they're easily convinced while they're in the depths of the book. It is a slightly different head that you need to step back out and think "okay, what works and what doesn't" and not everyone's very good at swapping into that.
Mind you, I know people on lots of sites (never on WW, of course
) who are just as determined to give nasty reviews/crits, regardless of the quality of the piece. Not necessarily in a snake-pit-Authonomy or sock-puppet way - though there are plenty of those - just for sheer ego. Seminar bullies are a subset of that kind, and smug ones at that. The kind who take a "I don't mind hurting you because it's for your own good" stand of moral superiority as cover for being beastly.<Added>
"I'm pretty sure the 'trying to be kind but really this isn't good' aspect would shine through, no matter how careful I was."
And even if you think you owe him that much care - and I'm not sure you do - that kind of careful drafting takes TIME. The marking that takes me longest is the weakest students, but then encouraging and imbuing confidence as well as technique is part of my job.
This isn't your job, and why should you waste that kind of time on him?
I would leave the group and say nothing.
Yes, you're both right. I have left the group, and I can't think that saying anything to the writer would be helpful at all, so I'll let it be unless he contacts me.
This 34 message thread spans 3 pages: 2 3 > >
Yes, do what's best for you, Astrea. I think you were very generous to donate your time in the first place.
|I'd be pretty gutted if I received the kind of feedback I'd have to give him if I was being completely honest|
You'd be doing him a favour, although he's probably too deluded to recognise it.
When I sent my early version of AnGal for a professional review, I asked for complete honesty, and I was told it needed to be rewritten. That was excellent advice, and I'm most grateful because I then had the deep-seated motivation to get it sorted. Yes, that motivation was rooted in a degree of pain, but the most effective medicine rarely tastes nice.