I was recently approached by a book agent to review a book on my blog. I did not like the book, found typos, and the prose was erratic along with some other issues.. I even had someone else read it and they agreed. Rather than post a negative review, I summarized the book. The agent was disappointed but when I told her my negative feelings, she preferred the summary.
What are your thoughts?
Joyce at http://www.jssherr.blogspot.com
Was it an ARC?
Otherwise there is no excuse for typos and the agent should be glad yo picked it up.
I have no issues posting negative reviews.
As both an author and as a former movie reviewer, I'm going to put myself out there with the Summaries-Are-Not-Reviews folks. I'll certainly write what the premise or hook was, and I don't mind talking a little about character development, but I sure don't want to give away crucial plot points. I think that's unfair to the consumer. (It would be like watching a movie and finding out that all the parts worth watching were in the trailer.) Since you're talking about your blog though, I would venture to say that if you referred to your post as a summary and not as a review, it's fair game.
I don't particularly want to hurt anyone's feelings when I post a review. I'm an author and I really want to be supportive of other authors as much as I can. But I always try to remember that when I put on my reviewer hat, my reputation is on the line. If I sing the praises of a book which could have used a second/third/twentieth draft, nine editors, a hundred ghostwriting monkeys with typewriters, and a gallon red ink, and people buy the book based on my recommendation, then my credibility will be totally shot...and rightly so. In your situation, doing a non-review summary, or even an author interview would both be good compromises. Just always remember that you owe your greatest loyalty to your readers. They come to your blog because they trust your opinion. :)
(As a side note, I'm very surprised that an agent asked you review a book that had some pretty significant flaws in it. Especially the typos.)
Just my two cents,
Yes, always tell the truth, but at the same time be respectful. When you don't tell the truth, you are helping no one, neither author nor reader. That's MHO. =o)
The way I handle situations like this is to be perfectly willing not to finish a book. If I don't finish a book, then I haven't invested the time, and I don't feel like I have to review it (although I might, under certain conditions). I don't promise reviews when I accept books, only a fair chance.
Hi Joyce, I think you were very generous. I recently reviewed a book with punctuation errors and i did point it out because I wanted the author to sort them as i felt they detracted from what was otherwise a compelling read. (I know from reading some comments on the Amazon reader boards how unforgiving some readers can be about these kinds of mistakes). But I think you did the best thing - you told the agent verbally and she should be grateful.
Thankyou Marie-Anne... SO MUCH!!!
My reviewer was comfortable doing a summary.. there were no spoilers and it was basically an overview. I think you're the only person that sees my pont of view...Under the circumstances I thought it was fine....but so many disagree. That's what makes this site so interesting..so many diverse opinions!
Always tell the truth. Don't be mean, but be honest. If you got a book to review, you should review it - good or bad. It's hard, but that's part of being a reviewer. Summaries are fine so long as they are with a real review.
As an author I would be very grateful not to get a negative review, but as a reader I would like to hear your honest opinion. If you thought that book wasn't that good maybe you could have conveyed it gently.
I prefer honesty. Now, there's a difference between being honest and being downright rude. You can politely state what you did and did not like without being nasty about it. But, as a reader, I like knowing that I can trust the reviewer to say what they really feel, not what they think others want to hear.
If I hate a book instead of writing a bad review I contact the author and provide a detailed description of the things wrong with the book and suggestions of how to fix them.
I think a review should be truthful. The agent just wanted the review to add to the marketing list, most likely, but if you didn't have anything positive to say about it, then they wouldn't have used any of it. But by not telling the truth, it doesn't help the author see what needs to be done to make it better. I don't know...
I would like to start by saying I'm an author. If authors don't get honest feedback how do we improve our work? As long as the criticism is constructive and hopefully diplomatic then you should tell it as you see it. I suggest though that reviewers should differentiate between something that is not to their taste and a book that is poorly written or edited. Ignoring major flaws is not helpful to your blog readers and may "turn them off". Honesty is always the best policy. I try to find a reviewer who has tastes similar to mine and is consistent and honest in their reviews. This helps me to narrow down my "to read list". I bet there are lot of like minded people who do the same.