For some reason, I don’t really enjoy writing book reviews. I love writing. I love reading. I don’t mind tweeting how awesome a book was or posting a similar comment on facebook or verbally discussing it. But I just can’t get any thrill from writing reviews on books I’ve read. Even great ones.
However, I have learned how important these are to writers. So I do them. Even for those I don’t know but whose books I have enjoyed. And that’s all I wrote for the most part. Good book reviews. If I didn’t like the book I didn’t write a review.
I really dislike hurting people’s feelings. But I realized something recently. Just like at a workshop, I’m really not doing the author any favors by not giving a decent critique if there are issues that he could address in subsequent novels which would make those much better. This is especially true for those who are self-publishing and don’t have the advantage of having agents and editors looking over their material before it’s out there. (Not that I haven’t read plenty of traditionally published novels with problems. And I’ve read many self-published books that I’ve loved.)
Most importantly though, I realized it really wasn’t doing the reader any favors by allowing someone who writes like a 6th grader to look like his book will be excellent just because his friends have posted all 5-star ratings. Which is what happened to me yesterday. I downloaded a book with 4 awesome reviews. Thank goodness it was free!
Okay…going off on a tangent here. I know some of you will say I got what I paid for and that you don’t read the cheapies because they (of course) couldn’t be any good. I disagree with that. While some of the material definitely should not have seen the light of day — at least not yet — I have been quite surprised by some of the eBooks under $2.99. Some were lowered just to get people interested in their other novels which are priced higher. And it worked. For me anyway. I have found new authors that I love to read because of experimenting with the lower priced books. And I don’t mind taking a chance on someone new to me when the cost is so little. Okay…back to the main topic.
The book I read yesterday was a horror. In the horror genre that is. Although reading it felt sort of horrifying at times. I wouldn’t have finished reading it except that it had a good premise. The plot was working and it was even kind of eerie at times. But the sucky writing kept pulling me out of the story. So, I wrote a review. I pointed out a few of the major problems such as word echoes, poor sentence structure and incorrect word usage — not to mention so many typos!
Seriously, this book had so much promise. It just needed a writer who was committed to the craft of writing. Someone who would take some classes, join a workshop and have someone professionally edit and help tighten the work. Create the flow. I love to get lost in a good horror book and I think this one would have been a good one to be able to get lost in. Too bad it didn’t work.
I’ve seen reviews that were raving about a book that so obviously didn’t deserve them. I’ve seen reviews that were so downright ugly I felt horrible for the poor author. Maybe the book was horrible. I just don’t think there is ANY reason to be condescending with intent to hurt. So in my review I pointed out the potential and the good qualities along with the things that need some adjusting. Just like I would to my friends who ask for feedback on their writing.
So what do you think? Have I blown my Writer’s Karma all the way to Hades? Do you leave reviews on books? Only good or do you leave reviews on books that aren’t very well done as well?