Monday, December 28, 2009

Is absolute truth always the best policy???

I'm referring to book reviews today.

I belong to Goodreads and really enjoy keeping track of books I've read and sharing my thoughts, reading what others have to say and see who agrees with me and who doesn't. I used to be brutally point in sugar-coating stuff like that. And as a reader, I think that is necessary. Writers need that stuff...they learn from least I do.

But as a writer??? honestly really the best policy??

Someday my books will be out there for the world to enjoy and scrutinize and I know not everyone will adore my stuff, I know bad reviews will happen. Can't please everyone....and this business is more subjective than any out there.

But what if other writers see me on Goodreads and read my reviews and OMG what if they see I wrote a not so pleasant review of their book??? Or just in general....should a writer be saying negative things about other writers' work??

Here is where I struggle once again between being a plain Jane reader and a writer. The reader in me wants to be honest, the writer wants to be pleasant.


  1. Now that I'm a writer I take a second look at the books I didn't like and find more about them that I enjoyed, like maybe the author's use of similes and metaphors. Now, it's more about the entire quality of the book. I write the reviews on everything not and not just the plot line and characters. I keep it very honest, but I add in more things that I hadn't considered before.

  2. When I was part of another writing group in the past, the director had the rule that if you couldn't fine at least three good things to say about a book, then you haven't connected with it enough to say anything bad about it either. His argument was that everyone's attempt to make art MUST have at least some good in it, and it was our job to pay enough attention to see that good. With that in mind, I feel like we can be honest about book reviews, but while doing that we can also present a balanced critique. As a writer, I think I'd be much more willing to accept bad reviews as long as some of the good points of my writing were also presented.

  3. Not having done many book reviews, I hadn't really thought about this. But of course if it was MY book, I'd hope for kindness.

  4. I like the idea that as writers, we should see the good in a book as well as the bad. I think it's fine to write negative reviews, but I'd definitely ensure they were productively negative. For the sake of both readers and the potential author, it's good to know WHY the book did not impress you.

  5. Oh absolutely...I always point out the good...but I am starting to question if I should write my negative thought too. Last thing I want to do though is make enemies in the publishing world.

  6. I think if you point out the good too, any reasonably mature writer is going to be able to accept your POV. It always hurts to have our work criticized, but it shouldn't make anyone feel like your enemy.

  7. That's a question I struggle with, too. I think it's important to be honest in reviews. I'm not a big reviewer--I write one on my blog every now and then--but I usually stick to recommendations of books I love, instead of skewering those I didn't. But if I didn't like a book for some reason, I always try to give some praise along with the negative.

    As well as being a writer, I'm also a book publicist, so I'm usually the one who has to send reviews to the authors I work for and I truly hate having to send on a bad review. It's really changed the way I look at writing them.

  8. When "Autumn and I" review a book, if it rates a "Don't bother", we just leave it at that, without going into details. I've had a few, and they are usually ones I can't even force myself to finish. But again, it's just one opinion and opinion only.
    I had to LOL at the last email I got from NaNo - the person who'd written the article very strongly recommended a book on writing that a friend and I both found to be the very worst book we'd ever read. I only finished it because she'd bought me a copy for my birthday, but eventually we conferred and agreed it was awful. Still, here's another author who thinks it's the best thing since sliced bread!