I came across this article on Book Riot today while I was already thinking about writing a post on this ‘issue’ myself somewhere this week.
While I have no problem whatsoever when it comes to giving a book from a firmly established author a 1-star rating, I do notice I tend to go easier on self-published authors. Mind you, I will still always give an honest review, but just tend to tone it down a notch when it comes to the criticism. I also feel way more guilt-ridden when I’m the first person to leave a review of a book on Amazon or Goodreads and it turns out to be a 1- or 2-starred rating for me. It won’t exactly leave an enticing invitation to potential customers…
On the other hand, I always hope it encourages the particular author to look critically at his or her work again and maybe edit/revise it (once more ). Plus, no one should waste their time and money on something that clearly can’t live up to the standard. Giving a higher rating out of guilt ruins it for other readers as well.
Seeing as I will be reviewing a lot of Indie books and/or books from relatively unknown authors in the upcoming two months, I was getting a little worried about not liking some (or possibly all!) of them. What if the contact between the author and me was really pleasant and then I come up with a not so flattering review? What if that person becomes truly hurt because of it?
Yet, after having read this wonderful article with the possibly even more wonderful comments on it, I’m not so worried anymore. Like one of the commenters quotes author Zoe Heller from the NYT: “Writers are not kindergartners making potato prints for their parents; they’re grown-ups who present their work to the public.” (you can read the particular NYT article here).
Which is exactly how I intend to deal with it. If we treat all writers as professionals, they should be able to take the (constructive) criticism and possibly, hopefully, use it to improve their future writing. I’m letting go of the “Who the hell are you to bash down someone’s else’s hard work?!”-voice I sometimes hear in my head when I’m writing a critical review. Instead, I’m going to embrace the “This is for the greater good”-voice. As long as you don’t attack the author personally, but just look at the (editorial) facts, no one should be offended (all too much).
How does everyone else deal with this? What’s your personal policy on this? How do you feel about this as a writer?
P.s. #1 – I don’t really hear voices in my head. I’ll most definitely take a break from blogging when I start doing so, though…
P.s.#2- This is an unofficial announcement of an announcement of a list of Indie book reviews for the months of March & April which I’ve got planned for next week. Jeez, that was a mouthful (and that’s what she said).