So, here's my qualm. I sign up for a book giveaway. I'm supposed to read and write a review. Not a problem. But what if you really don't like the book? What if you - this is really about me, so "I" - see a lot of issues with the book. Logically, I think, it seems, that I should write a review with all that in it and rate accordingly. 

But here's the problem. I'm a writer, too. I've given away several short collections of short stories and they've had mixed reviews. Some of them have been very aggressive in a most negative way. Now, I'm not saying I'd be aggressive in my review, but I also know I'm not going to write something positive when it's not true. However, as a writer myself, I don't want to bring someone else down. It might be seen as sour grapes, but mostly because I want writers to succeed - at writing. So my comments, I don't know, maybe they should just be reserved for the writer. But maybe my comments aren't welcome. (We all know how stubborn some people can be.) The comments are still going to hurt.

And then, is it sort of my responsibility to protect readers from bad books? 

I read a book that was pieces of genres pasted together. There was no real climax but a long, drawn out denouement that really just ended with a fizzle. And I read the whole thing - though I skipped huges swaths of sex and overly detailed description - and I should say something but I worry that I shouldn't. 

Do I write the review or not?

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You should write an honest review, highlight both good points and bad, and write it tactfully. Tactfully is not dishonest, but it's not being overly blunt either. It shows respect for the author. If you write it tactfully, you can't go wrong. But remember to also point out things that are good about the book. Just because you don't like the book doesn't mean there isn't anything good about it. A good book review gives a well-rounded summary of the book that is a mix of subjectivity and objectivity, so even if you don't like the book, you should still mention what's good about it.

If you think the book is horrible (you can't think of anything good to say about it) and you want to help the author, you could give your thoughts and suggestions to the author privately and not publish a review. They will understand.

But if you signed up for a book giveaway, you really should try to write a review for the author, because I'm assuming you got the book for free and agreed to write a review.

Of course, those are just my ideas on it, but you can make up your own decision. Good luck!

This: "Just because you don't like the book doesn't mean there isn't anything good about it" is not always true. Unless you want to compliment the author on their good grammar. Some people write terrible stories. (Well, I assume they are, I've usually given up before the whole thing plays out.

But, back to the review. I agree that much should be shared with the author in private rather than put out there for all to see. There's been a few instances where I'd wished someone had done me that favor.

I guess, knowing what it feels like to be on the receiving end of a negative review (1 or 2 star rating), I don't want to put another author through it. (Though, I did do it for a book, but they were a best selling author and I found the book to be deplorable.) There's just no easy way.

Yep, I owe them a review, but I also owe them my thoughts on what I feel is wrong with the book so they at least  have that for consideration in their next book.

I would write the review.  I've had to do it for a few books where I really liked the author based on what I could gather about them through e-mail correspondence but the book was a train wreck.  I didn't completely bash the book but I did note what was wrong with it.  There were multiple spelling and grammatical errors.  The timeline was disjointed, characters were developed poorly and the climax was completely lacking.  

If there is something positive to be said then make sure to include that both at the beginning of the review and at the end.  If there isn't, and sometimes there isn't, then simply share your opinion of the book, try to remain objective, and be honest.  It's all you can do.  

I recently had a problem very similar to this.The book itself was not terrible but it was not great either. One of the issues I found with this particular book was that the editing was atrocious. There were misspelled words throughout the book as well as serious grammatical errors. Had the editing been better I think the book itself would have gotten 4 starts from me. Unfortunately I had to give it 2 stars and a bad review due to the terrible editing job.

I think the important thing is to be honest in your review and do not attack the author personally.

It's an interesting notion, this "obligation" you speak of. Last time I checked I didn't have 85 reviews of either of my collections of short stories and that's about how many books I gave away. It's probably a discussion for another thread - the ROI of giveaways. But back to the current discussion. I do write the reviews, unless.... Unless the book is so awful I can't say anything good about it. Hopefully other people will take care of that, but I feel bad for the author. As for the current book I have to write the review for, It has quotes and 4 & 5 star ratings and I can't believe those are honest reviews and I'm going to stand out like a sore thumb. But, so be it. It's my opinion and I can say a few good things about the book, but I can't recommend it. 

As another thought, the 4 and 5 star reviews could be from family and friends.  The book that was horrible had all kinds of good reviews, but English was obviously not his first language, that's how bad it was.  Good concept, terrible execution

I write the review but let the people reading the review know it is my opinion.

I write bad reviews....I have no problems doing it.  If it's an authors first book, if it's bad, then I'll go to them and say I won't review it, it needs to have work done, and highlight it.  But I'm VERY selective on what I review.  I usually don't review someone unless they are through a publisher or agent.  So most of my reviews are at least halfway good.

The author needs to realize that if it sucks, people are going to write about it on Amazon.com if it sucks.  They have to be able to take constructive criticism.  They have to be able to take downright abuse on the internet.

If you got a book through a giveaway, then you are obligated to review it, good or bad, in my opinion.

I agree about the obligation to review what's given to you.

I've started to take a different stance when it comes to who I review. I'm only writing reviews for independent authors. There are plenty of people that write for agented (is that a word?) authors and those published through small publishing houses.Those that need the reviews are the independents so that they don't have to rely on just friends and family, and because we do know that most of the 4s & 5s are from them and might not be as honest.

Yes, write it but don't just bash the book outright. Criticise constructively.

I concur. The person writing - me, for example - should be able to explain what they didn't like about the book and why they didn't like it. That way readers can learn why the book scored low. It might just be something like a disagreement of philosophy over how much sex or violence is necessary.

Exactly. I just wrote a review and I struggled to come up with positive things to say but I made sure that I did. 

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