For What It's Worth

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Tell Me Something Tuesday


Tell Me Something Tuesday is hosted by Rainy Day Ramblings and discusses a wide range of topics from books to blogging.

Question: How do you handle writing books for books that you didn’t love?

Answer:
I know a lot of bloggers agonize over this - but to me it’s the same as any other review.

My one rule is to keep the review about the book and not make it personal about the author.

I think most of us blog to promote authors and books we love but I read reviews to help me choose my next book. I like to read pros and cons for a book before I decide and that’s what I try to do with my reviews.

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with readers loving a book and screaming from the rooftops READ THIS!!! But without other reviewers, who feel like they can’t knock a popular book out there, I don’t know about the things that would have helped me steer clear of something that wouldn’t work for me.

Not every book can be a winner and I find negative reviews to be invaluable. And not AT ALL a deterrent to reading or buying a book.

I actually have a MUCH harder time writing reviews for books I love. It’s pretty easy for me to point out pros and cons for a book – I figure the reader can decide from there if the book is for them. When I LOVE a book though, I’m an incoherent mess of love and don’t want to look at the book more closely and potentially ruin the experience for me. And I try to get to every single thing that I loved. Without spoilers. lol

Possible controversial opinion ahead.

I beta read for authors, I understand the hard work that goes into writing, how emotional it can be and why negative reviews can be devastating – especially if tweeted directly to the author (& especially while writing their next book) (don't do this) but a book is not a baby (as it is often referred to) I get that it is in a way for the author – but it’s not literally a baby.  It’s a product that people buy and I deserve to have honest information out there to help me decide my next purchase. I also understand that other readers might not love the book that I did. It doesn’t bother me at all.

I have also seen authors who don’t think there should be negative reviews & advocate Be Kind on Twitter then rip TV shows, movies and games a new one without any sense of irony. Is that not a creative process? Isn’t there a face behind that? People who invested years and sweat and tears into the finished product? Yet they felt they deserved better writing, a better ending…all the things that get us riled about books.

I also don’t buy into the *constrictive criticism for the author* review. Sure, it might be helpful if the author is interested (maybe a new author or if the criticism is a common one) but the book is done and can’t be fixed. Besides what you hate might be what appeals to someone else. No one book can be catered to every reader. Nor should it try. 


I try to be fair about it – not unnecessarily cruel, definitely not personal, and try to point out the type of reader it might appeal to.

That got a little ranty lol but what are your thoughts on this , sometimes controversial, topic?

42 comments:

  1. You are so right, like stop complaining about Game of Thrones and then go on saying that reviewers have to be kind and only give 4s *eyeroll*

    I always read neg and pos. Sometimes all the positive ones tell me nothing, so I read negative ones and find out so much more.

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    1. I need both types of reviews to decide and I really have no problem pointing out pros and cons.

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  2. I've never really had a problem writing reviews for books I didn't love. If I truly have nothing good to say about it (which is rare) then I just won't review it. The whole "if you can't say anything nice... " rule. Otherwise I focus on the positive aspects I did like, tactfully mention what didn't work for me, but always stress that just because it didn't work for me, doesn't mean it wouldn't work for others. Reviews are so subjective anyway... we're just sharing opinions.

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    1. I find so much value in negative reviews. They tell me a lot. As long as it's not a long ranty thing that's just to take an author down a notch. I don't read those because they are just as un-helpful as squeeing positive reviews.
      I guess I don't take pointing out what doesn't work for me as a bad thing. If I say it was too angsty, for example - is someone elses reading catnip.

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  3. Hmm! Interesting. Because I started my blog purely as a way of chronicling the books I had read and never expected anyone else to read my thoughts I write a review whether it be 1 star or 5.

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    1. I wanted to talk about books that didn't get a lot of attention but I never thought anyone would ever see it lol

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  4. I usually don't have to write reviews but books I didn't like because I usually DNF them. The ones I had written it's because I dislike it SO MUCH I felt I HAD to (probably thought it was very problematic) so I didn't felt bad a about those. However, I can see how it can be difficult sometimes for some people.

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    1. I cut WAY back on review books so this will be going forward. I get to read what I feel like whenever I want so I should have more hits than misses.

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  5. I agree with you. I like reviews that have pros and cons, if they author didn't absolutely LOVE it. It's good to see what might work for me, as opposed to the person who reviewed it. I also don't think you should EVER tweet a review to an author unless it's super positive, and constructive criticism for the author doesn't make much sense because reviews aren't FOR authors; they are for the readers.

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. Agree with all of this. I think there's so much value in reading pros and cons & it helps you learn about the reviewers tastes more and see how that relates to your own.

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  6. There is a nice way to write a review that isn’t exactly positive and then there are the flat out mean reviews. I can understand getting rid of the scathing criticism that serves no purpose other than for the person writing it to maybe get some attention. I am all about the balance reviews, and I like knowing about things that might bother me before heading into a book. Reading reviews has certainly saved me from a few books that aren’t a good fit. It is all about being kind and treating authors and books the way you want to be treated. If you can’t think of one thing nice, than don’t say anything.

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    1. I think anyone should write reviews however they want but I won't read the scathing takedowns. They don't help me any more than incoherent positive reviews and I don't think it's necessary to be cruel.

      While I disagree with the *book baby* thing - there's still a person behind the book.

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  7. So much yes to everything you said. "Book baby" makes me cringe every time I see it. Once it's put out there for sale, it is a product.

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    1. I do get that art is from a creative space but all things are *created* by people and have a human element behind them. Even vacuum cleaners lol It's for sale and I want information to help me decide on my purchase.

      I understand that reading and reviews are subjective and can weed about whats relevant to me.

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  8. Yes!! I totally agree with your points here. I'm not afraid to give less stars or write a negative review--I definitely don't make it personal or attack the author though. I will usually just say it wasn't for me or I didn't connect with X, Y Z aspect of the book but readers who like ___ would like this book. Not all books are for everyone. I'm not going to give 4 stars if I didn't feel it was a 4 star book.

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    1. I'm totally cool with bloggers/readers that only want to talk about what they love or stay positive!

      But for me, I need those reviews that tell me what doesn't work so I know how to choose my next read.

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  9. Quote: "Not every book can be a winner and I find negative reviews to be invaluable. And not AT ALL a deterrent to reading or buying a book."
    Absolutely!

    Quote: "a book is not a baby".
    I totally agree with your point here.

    Quote: "I have also seen authors who don’t think there should be negative reviews & advocate Be Kind on Twitter then rip TV shows, movies and games a new one without any sense of irony."
    LOL, they do? This is interesting, to say the least. There are also authors who think all GR ratings should be rounded up instead of down. This is something I don't do, because a 4.5 star book can be near perfect for me, but a 5 star book is one step ahead of that, if small. To me, it makes more sense to put a 4.5 star book with the 4 star ones. Anyway, like you said, a book can be a "baby" for their author, but it's a "product" for all purposes, so we need to know if it's worth consuming!

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    1. A book is consumed differently, than say a bar of soap, but it's still a purchase using hard earned (limited) money and I would like information before buying - so yes, I expect honest reviews of all kinds to help with that.
      And yes! I've seen (multiple) authors write whole posts about the way certain tv shows or even games have ended. Authors who have said - if you don't have something nice to say... when it comes to books. And I don't get what the difference is.

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  10. I'm kinda the same. I want to know the good AND the bad about a book so I can make a decision if it's for me or not. So yeah. Good point about constructive criticism too. Totally agree!

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    1. The book is already out. Unless dozens of reviewers are saying the same thing I don't see how it's to *help* them. That's their story as envisioned by them. You don't need to like it but there you go lol

      And most authors that I know would be filled with self doubt taking all the various criticisms in. There's no way you can please every reader.

      I like really low angst books that would bore most people.

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  11. I recently shared that gem from an article I read - criticize the book, not the author. I also think if you are going to go in the criticism direction, you need to be specific. I read a lot of vague negative reviews. If I can't figure out exactly what bugged me, I don't say anything, but the book will get less than 5 stars. I choose to use my time and energy to lavish my praise on books I enjoyed instead of talking about DNFs, etc, but if I did review those books, I would follow all your recommendations.

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    1. I feel that way about both negative and positive reviews. The more I hear the reasons why for either direction - the more helpful the review is to me.

      I've only seen a few reviews that attacked authors directly and I that is a definite no no in my book. Along with linking the author to the review or contacting the author directly to complain.

      The book is out in the world. You get to say how you feel but there's nothing an author can do about it now - and that was their vision. Whether you ended up liking it or not.

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  12. I try to point out the things I didn't like about the story and leave it at that.

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  13. I couldn't agree more Karen. I find it much more difficult to review a book I absolutely loved and typically, they're the only type of reviews I tend to write. If I'm not enjoying a book, I have no qualms about not finishing it and not reviewing books I haven't finished, only leaves me with books that I loved.

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    1. It's very difficult for me to review a book I loved without going....and I loved this! And I loved this! And oh! I loved this! It's just a a rambling mess lol Also VERY hard not to spoil for books I've loved.

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  14. I find it harder to review books I love than books I hate but ultimately I just give my opinion. People need to remember that a review is just one persons opinion and not to put too much stock in it but to weigh up the points and decide for themselves.
    I've read negative reviews that have made me buy the book. I've read 5 star raves and decided to avoid a book like the plague. To each their own! But like you said, it should never get personal.

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    1. Exactly!!!!

      My line crosser is making it about the author. I used to write snarkier reviews in my early days (still not personal) but so much gets lost in translation and I just try to say what does and doesn't work now.

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  15. I have the same take as you. I always try to review the same whether I enjoy a book or not - stick to what I liked and disliked, never talk about the author directly unless I'm fangirling!

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    1. Pros and cons help me choose better and also get a better feel for the reviewers tastes.

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  16. I treat all books the same. I say what I liked or didn't like, I try to mention things like characters and plot, try to be constructive and give other bloggers reading a chance to see why it did or didn't work for me, so they can decide if my moans about the book are dealbreakers for them or things they can happily put up with. I don't get personal about the author themselves.

    Yeah I've seen people complain about bad reviews upsetting them, then watched them rant about Game of Thrones creators because they didn't get the ending they wanted!

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    1. Totally agree!

      Yeah - it happened the most with GoT. Authors who think you shouldn't write negative reviews then go and write long dissertations on why the ending didn't work. THAT IS WHAT A REVIEW IS.

      I get why you're disappointed or have thoughts from experience in storytelling (& I think it's fine to express that) but what's the difference between that and what we're doing? Aren't the writers people? You got emotionally invested and felt burned by the ending. Just like we do with your books sometimes.

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  17. I feel like it is pretty much the same for me as well. I try to keep it about the book and not the author, and I also try to always include a section of my review where I say why someone else might like it even if I didn't...

    Olivia-S @ Olivia's Catastrophe

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    1. Reading is so subjective but I still think varying reviews are helpful. Even in saying what doesn't work for you may mean it's prefect for me.

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  18. Oooo good answer. I agree that there is no point in providing constructive feedback. The book has sold and I don't expect authors to troll GR and take notes. And thank you - books are not precious things to be protected. This is all strictly business. Just don't shove it in the author's face and don't take any cheap shots.

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  19. I agree with you completely! And I agree about the "constructive criticism". I mean, if an author is getting the same feedback over and over, it's the publisher or agent's job to talk to them about it anyway, not random readers. Positive reviews are usually harder for me, too! And I too have absolutely bought books because of negative reviews- often because when I read them, I knew the stuff that was a problem for these readers wouldn't bother me at all and I felt MORE confident buying the thing! Love your take on this!

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    1. That's what critique partners, beta readers and editors are for. It's already been through ( or should have!) several rounds of constructive criticism before publishing.

      If a book is getting absolutely hammered in reviews - then sure - they could maybe get something out of the feedback but there are literally dozens or more readers with totally different opinions and that will lead an author down a no win road trying to meet each criticism.

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  20. I had a person on Goodreads ask me to take a negative review down because the author has depression. 😒

    I have found books I have loved based on bad reviews. When someone writes that they hated a book because it was character driven I always check it out on Goodreads. 😁

    I also have a harder time reviewing books I love. Books I don't love, no problem. Heh heh. 😏

    I review based on how well the story is written, and not my personal tastes, so I generally don't feel bad about my less than stellar reviews unless I unwisely followed the author on Twitter and they are super sweet. Ha ha. But if they are the type who search their book title looking for reviews, that's on them. 😛

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts! 👍✨

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    1. I'm so lucky that I've never had issues with authors.

      I had a band of Lauren Kate fangirls, back in the day. keep leaving "but Lauren is nice!" comments even though it wasn't a mean or overly negative review lol I just ignored them.

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  21. "It's not literally a baby." Lol. I agree with you that negative reviews are helpful and important to readers. I like to read both positive and negative to choose books, and it's all subjective. I've definitely picked up books based on negative reviews because those people happened to dislike things I love.

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