Sour Grapes and Dirty Little Secrets

As an unpublished author, writing book reviews is hard.  Not the positive reviews, because everyone wants to see those.  But there are times when there’s a book I just hate so much that I absolutely cannot find anything good to say about it, and that’s when a book review is the most difficult thing I’ll ever write.

The first problem is largely that you may inadvertently piss off a future colleague, and some of them might just end up taking it personally.  Even worse, some, in retaliation, will slam your book with negative reviews for no other reason than you gave their’s one star.  On the other hand, there are some pretty classy authors out there.  Some of you may remember my Mistress of Rome review.  Long story short, I largely loved the book but despised the main character.  And although Kate Quinn and I have a lot in common in terms of themes and writing styles, I included my displeasure of the main character in the review, knowing that Kate is active on goodreads.  Do you know the happy ending to this story?  She actually clicked like on my review.  Thus proving my point that there are classy authors out there, and she’s one of them, so you should support her books.

Then there is the issue that if you give a negative review to a popular book, clearly the only reason why you didn’t like it was because you’re full of sour grapes that the other person is published and you’re not.  Perhaps some of you might even feel that way.  So, here’s the time for the other story.  I hate Twilight.  I read the first one, saw the first movie, and decided it just wasn’t for me.  Not to mention Stephenie Meyer and I have vastly different world views.  Sour grapes, right?  Wrong, because I loved The Host.  Unfortunately, I read it before I was doing reviews, so I don’t have proof, but just believe me when I say my dirty little secret is that I loved The Host.  Like, loved it to the point of “When’s the movie coming out?” love.  Logistically, I can’t be jealous of Stephenie Meyer’s success and get so giddy over one of her other books.

The point I hope you take away from this, is that when I give a negative review to a book, it has nothing to do with how I feel about the author.  If I give a negative review to a book, it’s because it’s a bad book in my opinion.  Case in point, I wasn’t too fond of His Last Duchess, but I still gave it three stars because it was a good book.  Maybe if I would just stick to tv and gaming coverage, I wouldn’t put myself in this predicament.

How do all the other authors out there feel about giving negative reviews?

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2 thoughts on “Sour Grapes and Dirty Little Secrets

  1. I’m generally pretty honest when it comes to reviews. Although I have to admit, I very rarely give out a 1-star. I tend to look at it from all angles and even though a book may not be for me I still try to give the author credit for their work (I’m not saying that you aren’t). But some books are just bad, anyway you look at it.
    I would always hope that authors would take my reviews as feedback rather than criticism but that’s not always the case. I think most of what it comes down to is how you write the review. If you place both compliments for the book and suggestions for how it can be better, it tends to come across a bit lighter (finding compliments can be exhausting depending on the book).
    I’m an apiring author but also a freelance editor…with that being said, I’ve been known to leave a review, though not in-depth, and then I email the author outright if I have their contact information. That gets the same reaction, some will completely ignore the email, some ask for a response with the suggestions and some just say “thank you”.

    • I try to be as honest as I can, because if I’m not, I lose credibility not only as a reviewer, but potentially as an author. For my two star reviews, I always try to mention what the author did that worked. But some of my one star reviews are for books that were so poorly edited as to be rendered almost unreadable, a book that wasn’t really a book, and books that just had something in them that set me off and I couldn’t recover from it. In a more recent case, I did a review for one of Harlequin’s latest books, and because it was a netgalley acquisition, I was required to leave a review. It was actually two books in one, and the author in question used attempted gang rape for the hero to save the heroine in both books, and I never actually recovered from that. I had been willing to give the book two stars until that point.

      I never try to implicate that there is something wrong with the author. I always try to make sure readers and the authors understand that the problem is with the book itself, and is not a reflection on them. Unfortunately, some don’t always take it that way.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

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