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
You should always tell the truth. Just because you hate it doesn't mean I (or another reader) will hate it. If the book is having those types of problems maybe you could suggest ways for the author to clean the book up in your review? Maybe the book would be much more enjoyable if it were edited one more time.
Just a personal preference. I hate "reviews" that are just a summary of the book. That's not a review at all. You're just rehashing the book. It's pretty much pointless.
I don't agree.. I rely on summaries to see if a book is something I would be interested in reading or if I want to include it on my blog. Not everyone likes science fiction, espionage, YA etc and a summary can help the prospective reader make a choice. ...As you said, everyone's opinion is different.
Joyce at http:// www.jssherr.blogspot.com
Well, most books already have a summary on the Amazon page/back cover/ect so it feels redundant for a reviewer to do that. Not to mention it 'spoils' the book. If I read a full summary, why would I read the book?
I completely agree. A summary is a rehash of the book. I had a book that I was going to review like that, and I couldn't even get through it, so I wrote a post called "ON Book Title" and wrote what it was about, and then who might like it and why I couldn't.
Writing a review when I don't like the book is hard! I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but I think being honest about WHY I didn't like it is the key. I have read negative reviews and thought "oh I like those things that X didn't like..im going read that". I think being honest and respectful are key. I don't think most authors have the expectation that every single review is going to be positive.
Honest and respectful - bingo!
Anyone can give a summary of a book. They're plastered all over Amazon, on back covers, and inside flaps. However, only an actual reader can give a review that includes the book's weaknesses and strengths. I believe that when someone asks for a review, they are asking for the latter. If they did not want honesty, then they should not open up their work to the world. This is not an invitation to be rude and insensitive, but I have found that most readers are kind people and any reviews that present the book's challenges are not meant as stabs at the author but help during the writing process to aid the improvement of all literature.
I agree with most of your posts, however when I told the book agent that the reader had some negative comments( which would have been constructive) the agent preferred to leave the review as a summary. I chose to comply with his wishes.
I guess I dont ask =)
I have moved away from doing my own summaries in general. I actually did an article on my blog on that subject. I would assume that agents want to stay away from negative comments, but I really try to focus on what readers want not so much the agents.
The truth shall set you free...
I remember watching The Motorcycle Diaries when a doctor who dabbles in writing tried to show his manuscript to Che Guevara. When the day came that he needed to know Che's feedback, Che being his own self fired his opinion with apologies to the doctor. No matter how bad the feedback was as long as its the truth, the doctor took Che's advise like a man and thankful for Che's sincerity. True people are very rare these days...
I think that once you have been reviewing for a while (and not necessarily a long while), you have set up expectations in the reader's mind. If you then do not fulfill those expectations, the results can be not just disappointing but misleading.
Let's say a reviewer generally either recommends a book or indicates that it is not recommend. Then, one time, the reviewer simply summarizes a book without the usual thumbs up or thumbs down. It's easy for a reader to come away with the impression that the reviewer has recommended or condemned the book when in reality neither is the case.
Even if the reader is not misled, there's another issue. If the writer customarily operates as a reviewer in every sense of the word, giving the thumbs up or thumbs down, then the entry that is merely a summary is going to stick out from everything else. It will break the flow of the blog and make it seem poorly written.
For that reason, if I were the blogger, I would not write the "review" that was really just a summary unless all my reviews were like that. If I didn't want to shoot down a bad book, I simply wouldn't write about it at all.