Why a good review of a bad book can hurt you as well.

With the ever exploding popularity of ebooks, I started wondering what to do if I came across a friend with a sub-standard book and they ask me what I thought of it. I mean, really, what do you do? Who do I let speak for me; the anal writer or the supporting friend?

Then I read this blog post from a friend of mine, J. Lea Lopez, and she basically sums it up nicely.

  Boundaries of the Writing Community

  http://jlealopez.blogspot.com/2011/09/boundaries-of-writing-community.html

Mind you, I’ll take it one step further.

If I’ve come across a book that is poorly written due to lack of skill, but has good reviews, I take a good look at the person who’s written the review, and then I go look them up. If they’re not a writer, okay, I’ll let it pass, but if they’re another writer, and have books out, well here’s how my thought process goes.

This is a writer who thinks this story deserves a glowing review despite the blatant spelling/grammar errors…which means this writer sees nothing wrong with it and doesn’t see it as an error. If he/she doesn’t see it as an error, that must mean they make the same mistakes. If they make the same mistakes then their story isn’t going to be any better. NOTE TO SELF—STAY AWAY FROM THIS AUTHOR.

That’s right, I will not purchase books from writers who give glowing reviews to crap books. You know the books I mean. The ones where the writers published their first drafts. IMO, these writer/reviewers are damning themselves right along with the author they’re supporting.

As J. Lea Lopez pointed out;

“If the negatives outweigh the positives, and my sales aren’t good, then I need to put out a better product, simple as that.”

I couldn’t agree more.

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About Darke Conteur
Darke Conteur is a writer at the mercy of her Muse. The author of stories in several genres, she prefers to create within the realms Science Fiction and Dark Fantasy. A pagan at heart, her personal goal it to find her balance within nature; exploring the dark through her stories and the light through her beliefs. When not writing or working with crystals, she enjoys knitting, gardening, cooking and very loud music.

8 Responses to Why a good review of a bad book can hurt you as well.

  1. Very good point. I am sometimes leery about doing reviews of friends, and writers I know, but if they ask me I always tell them I’m going to be honest about how I see the book and write the review that way. They’re usually okay with that as long as they know I’m not going to sugarcoat it.

  2. Timely topic! I just finished a book by a friend, one whose books I’ve gladly given glowing reviews in the past. But not this one. And I’ve been trying to decide if I should post a review or just let it slide. No one’s going to notice if I don’t say anything.

    I agree with your sentiment, and in this regard, I will probably write a review for the book. It wasn’t awful, mind, it just had several typos and was a bit… rambling. Not as good as her other books.

    I do wonder, if it’s a friend, if we should send them a note (sort of a “critique”), describing some of the problems. The idea is that a public review would not go into much detail about what’s wrong, so a critique might be helpful to the author. What do you think?

    I expect good and bad reviews for Shipbuilder. If the critical reviews are from friends, I think I’d like to see a supportive email from them that explains the specific problems. This is no way an apology from them for posting a critical review. We don’t have to apologize for that.

    I do know of writers who simply won’t do reviews at all, so they can avoid this conundrum. That’s always an option.

    On a lighter note: I’ve nominated your blog for a Liebster award, given to blogs with fewer than 200 followers, as a way to bring more connections between blogs. Go to my post that’s up today to accept the award. You just have to link back to my blog, pick up the award image for your blog, and nominate five others for the award. Leave comments on their blogs to let them know they’ve won. Have fun with it.

    • I think by the time the book has gone to print, the time for a critique is over. There are some people who advocate a sort of ‘ebook do-over’, but I’m of the mindset ‘measure twice, cut once’. I look at it this way, are we really being a friend if we give them a good review and the book doesn’t warrent it? Are we doing them any favours?

      I saw the nomiation, thanks! I will try to oblige. I get all flustered with blog awards.

  3. J. Lea Lopez says:

    Thanks for the blog mention 🙂 I hadn’t really thought about this side if it before, but you’re absolutely right. It’s the same reasoning I use when I come across writers in social circles who do nothing but obnoxiously promote themselves, or who think we all *should* give each other positive reviews. I think to myself, nope, not buying your book.

  4. I’m one of the authors who doesn’t usually do reviews, good or bad, though not for any of these reasons.

    Thanks to all those workshops and critique groups, we authors tend to be a lot fussier about what we read than the not-aspiring-to-be-published public. Oh, not every author is that way, but a lot of us are. I’m skeptical that I’m part of the target audience, not when I dislike books in my genre that are very popular and have dozens of largely glowing reviews.

    Anyway, how is The Watchtower doing? 🙂

    • Something I found interesting about J Lea’s post, was that there was a growing number of writers who insisted that self-published writers stick together and only give each other ‘glowing’ reviews. That somehow, this is supporting them. IMO, it isn’t, and it’s giving them a false sense of accomplishment.

      Book just came out today. Doing a soft launch for the week through Facebook. There’s a coupon there if you’re interested. Only valid until October 9/ 2011.

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