About two years ago… I wrote a review of a book that I had accepted from the author. When I read the synopsis I thought I had a pretty good idea about what the book was going to be about. I was wrong. The book was non fiction, and upon reading the book, while I found the author to be an incredible writer… the choices made in the book did not sit right with me… honestly… they were borderline bizarre.
My review, I thought was fair. I pointed out the parts I really enjoyed, commending the author for beautiful descriptions. In the end, I mentioned in a sentence or two that while I appreciated the writing, parts of the book dragged a bit and I did not agree with some of the actions/decisions that were taken in the book. I even encouraged my readers to look at reviews other than mine as some reviewers really enjoyed the book.
Unknowingly to me at the time… I had opened up the gates of Hell.
The author…. pounced. She called the company who had sent me the book. She not only came after me personally on her own website but she also commented on the comments I received on the post calling me judgmental, shallow, and narrow-minded.
I emailed the publishing company who had sent me the book because I felt terrible. I was a fairly new blogger, I felt my review was kind, but I also wanted to be honest in my opinion and true to my readers. The publishing lady that I had dealt with on many books (and still deal with) told me not to worry about it, and said at least I did not say that if I ever met this author in person I would slap her across the face, as apparently one reviewer said on Amazon. 😯
When this author mentioned my review on her own site, she did not mention me by name… I believe she said something like “some people” are narrow-minded and the “some people” was a link back to my blog. The beauty of that was, she linked to my blog. Not the review. So…. I buried it. By that I mean I started reviewing like crazy. If anyone linked to my blog to see my review, they had to look through pages of many good reviews to get to the one that was so-so. My point in doing this was I was hoping that these readers could see that I was a good person, I read many books of all genres, and I write fair reviews.
Why bring this up after all this time?
I really don’t know, other than the fact I was thinking about this book and author the other day and admit that I peaked on Amazon to see how the book was faring. Recent reviewers were for the most part not impressed…. many of their opinions were much as mine were, only theirs were more verbal. I had to dig deep into the reviews going way back to find a series of positive ones.
I guess what I am getting at here is that many of you that read my blog here are also book reviewers. Like me, I am guessing that you probably try really hard to be careful what books you are offered for review that you say yes to. As time goes on, I have become more and more selective. Yet, even with the best of intentions, we are going to come across books that we just do not enjoy and yet, we have agreed to review.
So to book bloggers I offer this:
1. Yes be selective in the books you agree to read and review
2, Keep your reviews honest – dont sugar coat them, your readers want your true opinion
3. It is just an opinion – yours.
4. Keep all your thoughts about the book – do not make them about the author. (*I have tossed this one around for a long time in my head, and while my review comment in a way touched the author as it was a non fiction memoir type, I certainly never meant for it to personally offend.)
5. Not every book is going to be a win.
To authors who experience a poor review I offer this:
1. I adore you for all your hard work and understand (and hopefully am someday there too) that your book can be like a child.
2. Do not take negative reviews personally, not everyone is going to love your book. (Just like parents, not everyone is going to love your child as you do. 😛 )
3. I love it when you visit the review and I think my readers do too. If you want to participate in the comments that is awesome, just keep it positive.
4. Angry, defensive responses shine poorly on you. By being bigger than that, you can still ensure a positive experience for the readers and possibly pick up a few readers as well. (Again, a review is just an opinion).
5. I am one person, even this post is just my thoughts. I can speak only for me and my experiences. 🙂
Note: In the two and a half years I have been blogging, I have only had the one negative author experience. Most authors are amazing and generous people. ♥
There have been books that I have not enjoyed that my readers have gone on to read and loved. The beauty of the melting pot of book lovers! 😀
I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic, but please do not point out books or authors.