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Lunatique
12-20-2011, 03:10 PM
This question is for those of you who are already published and have a career as a writer.

Do you think it's a good idea to express negative opinions of other writers/book publicly such as in your blog or during interviews? What I mean is, is it considered bad form?--you know, bad blood and burning bridges and all that. After all, writers often recommend each other and become friends, and even if you try to be totally constructive in your criticism, you will offend and hurt feelings.

I guess an example would be when George R.R. Martin publicly expressed his disappointment in the ending of Lost, which offended Damon Lindelof, the showrunner for Lost. It became this big thing that people talked about. Another one would be when Stephen King criticized Stephenie Meyer's writing.

I suppose it's really a matter of personality. Some people go out of their way to not offend others--whether out of politeness or out of career considerations, while others feel like they should say whatever's on their mind, as long as they're being constructive--even if it might come back and bite them in the ass later. I guess if you are a total unknown, then no one would care about what you say anyway, since what you say will never reach the ears of those you spoke about negatively.

We see this in Hollywood a lot--where some actors, directors, producers...etc will never say anything negative about others, and they always give very diplomatic answers. It feels a bit fake, but totally understandable, since the politics behind the scenes can get very complicated. Then there are those who will say just about anything and don't give a shit.

So how do you feel about this?

seun
12-20-2011, 04:26 PM
There's a world of difference between saying a particular book was poorly written and a particular author is a complete arsehole.

There's also a difference between being unpleasant and being constructive.

Anninyn
12-20-2011, 04:39 PM
Being a writer doesn't stop me being a reader, and it doesn't stop me having opinions.

If authors can't handle people disliking their work, they should find another career.

I would never be outright nasty, but I won't cease being verbal about my opinions out of fear of vengeful authors doing the same to me. Living in that way seems utterly appalling.

Now bear in mind, I'm not saying I'm going to be wandering around screaming 'author is shit and should be forced to eat shit!', but if I'm asked about someone's work and I don't like it, I will say so. As diplomatically as possible 'I'm not keen on it, but then I may not be the target audience'.

If I'm reviewing work, however, honesty is important. You aren't reviewing to salve the authors ego, you're reviewing to give an honest opinion on the work, which may help readers. If I find it poorly written, full of plot holes, the characters flat and cardboard, I am going to say so.

Lunatique
12-20-2011, 04:44 PM
There's a world of difference between saying a particular book was poorly written and a particular author is a complete arsehole.

There's also a difference between being unpleasant and being constructive.

Yes, but what I'm asking is, even if being constructive and fair, is it a good idea to say anything negative at all, if it might hurt feelings and create powerful/influential enemies for yourself down the line in your career. You can't always assume the people you offend are open-minded and nice--some might be vindictive and hold a grudge, and the first chance they get to destroy your career, they might. (This is the worst case scenario, of course.)

scarletpeaches
12-20-2011, 04:47 PM
I'm conflicted about this matter because there are a lot of books in my genre which offend me -- rapey BDSM being a major problem.

But if I voice my opinions on Twitter or my blog, what if the author sees it? More importantly, what if the book's editor sees it, and one day in the distant future one of my manuscripts lands on their desk? Will they knock my work back because of my opinion of a book they worked on previously?

And yet, I feel like a hypocrite whenever I hold back because of this. I could be shooting myself in the foot as regards my career, but is keeping an opinion of a rapey erotic romance to myself, hypocritical?

Lunatique
12-20-2011, 04:56 PM
I'm conflicted about this matter because there are a lot of books in my genre which offend me -- rapey BDSM being a major problem.

But if I voice my opinions on Twitter or my blog, what if the author sees it? More importantly, what if the book's editor sees it, and one day in the distant future one of my manuscripts lands on their desk? Will they knock my work back because of my opinion of a book they worked on previously?

And yet, I feel like a hypocrite whenever I hold back because of this. I could be shooting myself in the foot as regards my career, but is keeping an opinion of a rapey erotic romance to myself, hypocritical?

Nail on the head. This is exactly what I meant in my question. I would be surprised if writers don't think about this issue in the age of blogs.

scarletpeaches
12-20-2011, 05:05 PM
I've considered an anonymous review blog but am not sure if I'd have the time to maintain it. Yes, I read an enormous amount in my own genre, but reviewing takes time -- you need to analyse, and provide proof of your points. Brief quotations. Something more in-depth than "I liked this," or "This book was shite."

But, again...anonymity. Does it equal hypocrisy? Would I be hiding behind another false name? Would it be seen as deceitful?

seun
12-20-2011, 05:32 PM
Yes, but what I'm asking is, even if being constructive and fair, is it a good idea to say anything negative at all, if it might hurt feelings and create powerful/influential enemies for yourself down the line in your career. You can't always assume the people you offend are open-minded and nice--some might be vindictive and hold a grudge, and the first chance they get to destroy your career, they might. (This is the worst case scenario, of course.)


If a poor review hurts feelings, well, OK it's not nice to have your feelings hurt but all writers need to be prepared for someone to say I didn't like this book and here's why. There isn't a single writer alive - or dead - who gets all positive reviews.

As for creating enemies, I have enough trust in people to hope that if I am professional and polite, even with a book I didn't like, someone connected to that book will be as professional and not figure I didn't like their client's book so I must be a bad person they don't want to deal with.

ETA: This is the whole bash the author/bash the book deal. I've got no problem with saying I thought DVC was a terrible book. That's my right since I read it. If I said Dan Brown is a total arsehead who can't write for toffee, that's abusive and unprofessional.

Mr Flibble
12-20-2011, 05:40 PM
A lot depends on your phrasing imo

If I were to say 'Well this part wasn't to my taste because of x and I personally feel that doesn't work' or 'this slowed the pace too much for me, but plenty of others will like it for exactly that reason', well....if they can't take that, they should consider whether they want people to have opinions about their work.

When I've reviewed, I noted what parts I didn't like and why, and also noted that this was as much personal taste as anything. (Unless I'm noting bad editing, continuity etc)


It's like a crit group, in a way. If you can't take constructive comments about your work and realise that everyone has their own preferences, well you shouldn't be there.

People getting the hump about constructive criticism need to get over themselves. If someone notes I've handled X poorly, then that's good, I can improve on it next time. On the other hand, trashing a book (or the author)just because it's not for you just isn't cricket.

scarletpeaches
12-20-2011, 05:43 PM
There's no nice way to say "The male MC is a rapist," though. Yeah, that's a bugbear for me in my genre.

seun
12-20-2011, 05:47 PM
There's no nice way to say "The male MC is a rapist," though.

What if he's a brooding hunk with emotional scars who can't help himself when he's overcome with passion for the woman who hurt him but who he still loves and -

I just made myself puke.

dolores haze
12-20-2011, 05:49 PM
But, again...anonymity. Does it equal hypocrisy? Would I be hiding behind another false name? Would it be seen as deceitful?

This was why I decided to review under my own name. Actually, my pen name. I decided to own my words and accept any possible consequences.

Having said that, though, I've yet to post an all negative review. I don't have much free time to read, so I select very carefully. I review a fraction of the books I read and, usually, if I'm going to put time into writing a review it's usually going to be for a self-pubbed or small press book that I think deserves it.

The tricky part for me is if it's a book by someone I know well. I have to be careful to not let my personal affection for the person get in the way of an honest review.

Mr Flibble
12-20-2011, 05:50 PM
There's no nice way to say "The male MC is a rapist," though. Yeah, that's a bugbear for me in my genre.


The hero danced too close to the consent line for me--and sometimes he fell off?

This reads like a rape fantasy, which, while popular for some, isn't my bag, baby?


Yeah, maybe just 'Too rapey for me'

Al Stevens
12-20-2011, 06:14 PM
My advice is, don't do it.

When I was a magazine columnist, I reviewed a lot of books. Publishers sent them to me unsolicited. I reviewed only the good ones. My job as a reviewer as I saw it was to steer my readers to the good stuff.

Negative reviews can have consequences. Suppose the author becomes an editor where you submit, for example. You can come up with lots of other scenarios where book-bashing goes and comes around. Suppose you fall in love with the author. :) (Make sure the ring has a money-back guarantee.)

About a year ago I posted a negative review on amazon for a self-publishing how-to book. I was offended that the author, whom I know, was charging money for such a piece of crap in a marketplace where much better books on the subject were available and where the same information was available online for free. I think I was most offended because I know the author and expected much better from him. He kind of phoned it in.

I didn't like myself for having done it for two reasons. (1) It went against my long-standing policy of good reviews only, and (2) I was thinking about writing a good book on the same subject and didn't want to appear to be slinging mud at the competition. (I abandoned the project.)

So I deleted the review and won't do it again. But that's just me.

Pistol Whipped Bee
12-20-2011, 06:16 PM
Yes, but what I'm asking is, even if being constructive and fair, is it a good idea to say anything negative at all, if it might hurt feelings and create powerful/influential enemies for yourself down the line in your career. You can't always assume the people you offend are open-minded and nice--some might be vindictive and hold a grudge, and the first chance they get to destroy your career, they might. (This is the worst case scenario, of course.)

Communicating - in any fashion - without tact speaks to the person doing the communicating - not the subject matter being discussed. Anyone with destructive tendencies towards another person will most likely find themselves facing a lawsuit in court.

If I get offended or my feelings get hurt because someone writes something ugly about my work, whether it's constructive or not - my feelings and my behavior are my responsibility - they're on me. When another person writes something ugly - it isn't about me or what I wrote - it's about their interpretation - their view. Awareness of their opinion and whatever feelings that follow, positive or negative, need to stand independently of how I feel about myself and my work. If I always allow myself to be defined by other's opinions of me and my work - I'm screwed.

I think it's totally acceptable to leave a review that lets readers know you didn't like a book and why. Rational decisions can't be made when fear dictates someone's behavior. Common sense needs to replace fear. There's always a reason why something might backfire. But if someone is always looking for those reasons and using them as an excuse not to do something - nothing would ever get done.

scarletpeaches
12-20-2011, 06:20 PM
I disagree strongly with the 'good reviews only' policy. If I read reviews by someone who's only ever positive about their reading material, I doubt their sincerity. I've had five-star reviews from people who have also five-starred rapey BDSM shite, for instance. That alone makes me wonder about how discerning they are when it comes to erotic romance, and their opinion means less to me as a consequence.

I value reviews from people who aren't afraid to say when they don't like a book -- that way I know they could have said something bad about my work, but didn't. Therefore, their opinion is genuine and carries more weight.

Psychomacologist
12-20-2011, 06:43 PM
I also tend to think bad reviews are a favour to a reader. If I were considering buying a book and read reviews warning that it was hopeless/disappointing/offensive/contained too much grilled cheese/whatever, then I as a reader would know to steer clear of that book and save my money. That's an important consideration when reviewing books. Reviews are primarily for the benefit of READERS - the consumers who will spend their hard-earned cash on that writer's product. They have a right to know if it's not worth what they're paying for it.

In terms of the OP's question, I think it helps to think of it in terms of: how would YOU feel about a bad review of your book? Would you hold a grudge forever because another author said your work wasn't for them? And I think if someone said "I didn't like [Novel] because of [x/y/z reasons]" then I have to respect that person's point of view, like I have to respect a critter's points if I put my work out there. But if someone says "Psychomacologist is a moronic, shitty writer who deserves to die in a fire" then yeah, I'm going to hate that person. And with pretty good reason, because they're a douchebag.

veinglory
12-20-2011, 06:45 PM
I still have opinions, stated as such.

Mr Flibble
12-20-2011, 06:53 PM
I also tend to think bad reviews are a favour to a reader.

Indeed, if they say WHY they didn't like the book. For instance, a book I read really wasn't for me - I'm not a fan of various aspects and that was probably why I didn't connect with the characters etc

But someone who I a fan of those aspects will know that maybe they'd like this book.

When I review, I take the stance that I am ther to say what kind of book it is, to show the reader whether, despite my opinions, it might be the sort of thing they'd read. Just recently in an online book club I mentioned that in a book I wasn't a fan of the really intricate fight scenes that slowed it down for me, and which I found quite tedious - I personally am not interested in what foot went where, unless it's into a groin :D. But if someone reading that loves intricate fight scenes (like my Old Man, and frankly, LOTS of people) then they'll know that maybe this is a book for them.

The trick is to be explicit what it is that you didn't like, and why, and to iterate it's your personal preference.

Conversely a good review that states they loved certain things in a book that drive me up the wall, that good review will stop a sale.

Psychomacologist
12-20-2011, 07:05 PM
^Indeed. When I DO review books, I always try to say what it was that put me off. Those kind of reviews are most helpful to me when deciding whether or not to read a book.

Katrina S. Forest
12-20-2011, 09:03 PM
I've left negative reviews on Shelfari from time to time. I try to be clear about why I didn't like it. (I think Witch and Wizard was the most recent one I rated poorly.) Some I changed my opinion later and edited the review to reflect that.

Al Stevens
12-21-2011, 12:46 AM
I'll stick with the no-bad-review policy. I don't usually get very far into a bad book. Enough to know it's bad, not enough to make an objective review. Reading a bad book all the way through is a waste of time.

Of course, I reviewed non-fiction. It might take more pages to know that a work of fiction is truly bad. If so, however, why do we beat ourselves up so much getting the first chapter to hook the reader?

Maybe the reviewer just didn't like the ending.

BeatrixKiddo
12-21-2011, 04:05 AM
I would stick to an anonymous review if possible. I think about this too. (Some) people are petty. Sorry to say, but they are. And people definitely hold grudges. While the advice is "You're a writer, you're supposed to have a thick skin", I'd be afraid that the one writer I gave a review to, had never developed any and it could bite me somehow later.

Very good topic.

Brindle MacWuff
12-21-2011, 05:07 PM
Although I'm not published, and my only writing career is in my head.... my tuppence worth says anonymous too, except when I have spent money on a book. I praise it when it's very good, and slate the waste of money if it's very bad. But only when it's very bad (see anything by Chris Kuzneski. ANYTHING!) If it's just a bit dull, then I'd leave it alone, as it may suit someone else, and I don't want to put them off.

veinglory
12-21-2011, 06:54 PM
I would stick to an anonymous review if possible. I think about this too. (Some) people are petty. Sorry to say, but they are. And people definitely hold grudges. While the advice is "You're a writer, you're supposed to have a thick skin", I'd be afraid that the one writer I gave a review to, had never developed any and it could bite me somehow later.

Very good topic.

But if you are discovered as the writer of an anonymous negative review (there are ways....) now it does look suspicious.

Al Stevens
12-21-2011, 07:11 PM
But if you are discovered as the writer of an anonymous negative review (there are ways....) now it does look suspicious.
Especially if you have an axe to grind.

Psychomacologist
12-21-2011, 07:16 PM
My policy on reviewing books (on Goodreads, Am@zon, blog, whatever) is as follows:

1. Note the positives and say what I liked about the book
2. Explain what I didn't like about it and why ("I'm not a huge fan of the 1st person POV" rather than "It's badly written")
3. Phrase the review as my opinion of the book and my experience of it as a reader, ("I didn't enjoy this book" not "This book is a steaming pile of fetid bantha entrails that should be exorcised and then burned")
4. If I honestly can't think of something positive, say so. Make it clear that I looked for positives but was left at a loss.
5. Avoid personal attacks or nastiness or insults or passive-aggressive remarks. I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of that shite so I'd be a bit of a hypocrite if I dished it out to other people.

The purpose of a review is to help readers make informed decisions about the books they buy and read, not to viciously attack other writers or make myself feel better by bashing other people's work.

That said, if I feel a book has a serious social issue that needs addressing (racism, sexism, rapey protagonist etc) I think that needs to be called out. But that goes beyond just trying to help readers make informed decisions about their reading and into a wider social issue. Namely, I think racism should always be called out because when it isn't, it silently persists. I think bigotry should always be challenged and try to do so etc etc. So it becomes a social issue not a book-reading issue.

But that is because I feel strongly about certain issues. I wouldn't go so far as to say reviews have a duty to call out issues or whatever. That's a choice I make for myself because I think those things are important. Your mileage may vary.

Anne Lyle
12-21-2011, 07:40 PM
I'm with Psychomacologist - except that if I couldn't find anything positive to say about a book, I probably wouldn't finish it, never mind review it.

I do try to phrase the negative bits in terms of "this is something I didn't like" rather than "this was bad" - because as has been said, we all have different tastes. I'm easily squicked out by violence against women (especially sexual/ised) so I prefer to avoid books with a lot of that sort of content - and I will tend to give negative reviews if I come across it in otherwise promising books. After all, I appreciate it when other reviewers point this stuff out and save me the trouble of buying books I won't enjoy!

I did tone down one review in retrospect after I realised that, fun as it is to channel Dorothy Parker, doing it in public is maybe not so professional :(

As a side-issue, I was a little non-plussed to see that someone on Goodreads had given my unpublished book a 5-star rating. I can only assume that this was brown-nosing in the hope of being picked for the giveaway my publishers were holding last week!

Amadan
12-21-2011, 07:56 PM
I have little respect for reviewers who only post positive reviews, and none for authors who get butthurt about bad reviews.

And while I agree in general that it's better to be tactful and constructive in one's reviews, frankly, sometimes a book just sucks hard and readers deserve to be told why.

I'd rather see authors free to be blistering. Nobody ever said "Oh noes! Mark Twain, you're so mean and unprofessional!"

DL Hegel
12-21-2011, 08:07 PM
I have never reviewed other writers' works, except in a limited way, but I have written tons of reviews. If I do a negative or positive review, I consider many things. How does the piece of work hold up in its genre? How does it compare to other works in the genre? How is it technically? Does it bring something new or interesting to the genre. I am very specific and direct why I believe the piece works or doesn't work. I would never do a personal attack on an artist. If you are doing a review it's about the work, not the artist themself. The world is full of dung headed artists that produce quality work and total trash.

I have done letters to an editor about another writer's lack of objectivity when writing a slam fest masked as a review. The difference is pretty easy to spot. One magazine I did this for, was in direct response to an unfair review by one of their writers. I got two articles out of it. I have to my knowledge never been turned down for a job, just because of a negative review. If you can't be fair, honest and objective in a review, it's not a review.

Also an add, if you hate stories about mutant aliens who eat sunflower seeds and belch the star spangled banner, then writing a review about those pieces seems a waste of time, unless an editor is waving a fat check. Fans of a genre or sub-genre of an art form, have specific likes and dislikes, you can't hope to do service to the fans without understanding and respecting their needs.

Anne Lyle
12-21-2011, 08:11 PM
I have little respect for reviewers who only post positive reviews, and none for authors who get butthurt about bad reviews.

And while I agree in general that it's better to be tactful and constructive in one's reviews, frankly, sometimes a book just sucks hard and readers deserve to be told why.

I'd rather see authors free to be blistering. Nobody ever said "Oh noes! Mark Twain, you're so mean and unprofessional!"

It is difficult, though, in these entitlement-heavy days. Personally, I get hacked off by all this "please give good books a 5-star review on Amazon because anything less hurts sales" malarkey. It may be true, but it doesn't mean I have to like the idiocy of the masses!

Amadan
12-21-2011, 08:41 PM
It is difficult, though, in these entitlement-heavy days. Personally, I get hacked off by all this "please give good books a 5-star review on Amazon because anything less hurts sales" malarkey. It may be true, but it doesn't mean I have to like the idiocy of the masses!


I think think greed (the self-pubbers who think they can quit their day jobs if they can get enough people to 5-star them on Amazon) and entitlement (particularly evident in the "YA mafia" brouhaha last year) is a lot of it, but I also think it's authors not wanting to be held accountable for writing crap.

Anne Lyle
12-21-2011, 08:50 PM
Personally I'm always suspicious if a book has only a modest number of reviews and they're all 5-star. I immediately assume that it's just the author's friends and family being supportive!

Psychomacologist
12-21-2011, 08:53 PM
I think think greed (the self-pubbers who think they can quit their day jobs if they can get enough people to 5-star them on Amazon) and entitlement (particularly evident in the "YA mafia" brouhaha last year) is a lot of it, but I also think it's authors not wanting to be held accountable for writing crap.

I also think it's symptomatic of authors forgetting that reviews are for READERS, and treating reviews as marketing tools. Hence calling for people to come and five-star them so they can sell more books. Which isn't the point of reviews at all.

scarletpeaches
12-21-2011, 11:45 PM
This is why I never review books when I'm asked to, and nor do I auto-five-star a book just because I know the author. I won't RT requests for reviews, and if I read your book, don't expect me to say good things about it just to avoid offending you.

Jess Haines
12-22-2011, 12:59 AM
I post both positive and negative reviews on my blog (and re-post them to Goodreads when I remember to).

It hasn't made much difference that I've seen. For example, I adored Thea Harrison's DRAGON BOUND and gave it 5/5. Yet her next book really wasn't for me--only rated it 2/5. From what I can tell, it hasn't affected my relationship with her at all. She still talks and jokes with me on Twitter, and I still look forward to reading more of her work, even though STORM'S HEART didn't really work for me.

I suppose it depends on how you word your review.

scarletpeaches
12-22-2011, 01:17 AM
So...you're saying "This book is shite and the author should burn the laptop she typed it on," is bad form?

jjdebenedictis
12-22-2011, 08:15 AM
Two thoughts:

(1) My main concern with giving negative reviews to other writers is I'm afraid my opinions will be perceived as sour grapes, i.e. as a purposeful dig at a competitor done out of professional jealousy.

However, I absolutely won't lie about what I think of a book because

(2) when an author asks their friends to give their book a good review, regardless of its actual merits, that's fraud.

I can't state this strongly enough. They're embarking on a purposeful campaign of deceptive advertising. They are actively trying to trick people out their money by gaming how the book's reception is perceived. It is fraud.

So if I give my opinion, it's honest. I'm not going to help anyone bilk their customers.

areteus
12-22-2011, 01:34 PM
I am of the school of giving a balanced review where possible. This means having to think of both good and bad things to say about it, even if you have to think really hard to find either. A professionally written review should not offend but it should be honest and it should be clear that it is your opinion but an opinion based on evidence from the text.

Some of my reviews of self published books, the only criticism I could give was 'it could do with a better, tighter edit'. The main worry I had about that point was that it was getting repetitive...

For me personally, I never read Amazon reviews or any online based reviews done on a comment system like that, mainly because of the obvious bias. I prefer to read a professional review done by someone who has experience and journalistic training. There is still bias but they are usually more objective than 'the authors mates giving away free 5 star reviews'. The reviews in SFX magazine (which are done by a number of writers, some on a freelance basis) I have found to be the ones that most appeal to me and, on reading the book in question after reading the review, the ones that most agree with my own opinion (including sarcasm about common fantasy things like maps and appendices).

As for being afraid of offending someone 'powerful', to my mind someone who aggressively attacks a fair and honest review is insecure and therefore not likely to be 'powerful'. Bear in mind, it looks worse to attack a bad review than it does to make one. It can massively damage a reputation. Someone secure in their position will accept all reviews with good grace.

Amadan
12-22-2011, 05:37 PM
Screw fair and balanced:

Requires Only That You Hate (http://requireshate.wordpress.com/)

We need more reviewers like this. :D

bethany
12-22-2011, 05:57 PM
I am a writer and a reader, but not a reviewer, and I have no time to write full reviews of the books I read, so I keep negatives to myself. I have little enough time to blog, so if I feel like gushing over a book I loved, i do that. If I didn't care for it, I usually keep that to myself. In all honesty, if I'm not into a book I usually don't finish it.

I understand that there's a fine line for authors who wish to be or consider themselves reviewers, but it doesn't bother me, because I read for my own pleasure, not to rate or evaluate the books. In fact, I try my best not to read as a writer because it takes some of the magic away.

Anne Lyle
12-22-2011, 05:59 PM
Ouch - and I though the Tor review of "Prince of Thorns" itself was negative!

However it's one thing for a random reader to be vicious, and quite another for a published author to behave the same way - which I think is the point of this thread.

Amadan
12-22-2011, 06:10 PM
However it's one thing for a random reader to be vicious, and quite another for a published author to behave the same way - which I think is the point of this thread.


True. But I wish more published authors had the guts to uncork instead of playing nice.

Another favorite link of mine:

The 50 best author vs. author put-downs of all time (http://www.examiner.com/book-in-national/the-50-best-author-vs-author-put-downs-of-all-time).

Compared to these guys, the whiney butthurt blooh-bloohing over how "unprofessional" Stephen King was to diss Stephanie Meyer's writing just makes me laugh.

Where are the Oscar Wildes when we need 'em? (Dude dissed Dickens, the dick!)

Anne Lyle
12-22-2011, 06:21 PM
I'll happily diss Dickens, since he's dead. And don't get me started on Thomas Hardy. Or Walter Scott. Even if he did write a book (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Legend_of_Montrose) about me :)

Amadan
12-22-2011, 06:25 PM
I'll happily diss Dickens, since he's dead. And don't get me started on Thomas Hardy...

I can't stand Thomas Hardy either. But you diss Dickens and it's on...

Seriously, I like Dickens, but he's loooooooooooong winded, and he can't write women for shit. He's crappy at writing women even for a Victorian.


I wonder how many "safely dead" authors would have been the type to get on Amazon or Goodreads and scream at people who gave them negative reviews?

dolores haze
12-22-2011, 06:42 PM
Screw fair and balanced:

Requires Only That You Hate (http://requireshate.wordpress.com/)

We need more reviewers like this. :D

Neckbeard. I learned a new word.

dolores haze
12-22-2011, 06:47 PM
True. But I wish more published authors had the guts to uncork instead of playing nice.

Another favorite link of mine:

The 50 best author vs. author put-downs of all time (http://www.examiner.com/book-in-national/the-50-best-author-vs-author-put-downs-of-all-time).

Compared to these guys, the whiney butthurt blooh-bloohing over how "unprofessional" Stephen King was to diss Stephanie Meyer's writing just makes me laugh.

Where are the Oscar Wildes when we need 'em? (Dude dissed Dickens, the dick!)

Glad to see His Nabs at the top of the list. His 'Strong Opinions' is a much-read favorite.

Lunatique
12-22-2011, 06:49 PM
I am a writer and a reader, but not a reviewer, and I have no time to write full reviews of the books I read, so I keep negatives to myself. I have little enough time to blog, so if I feel like gushing over a book I loved, i do that. If I didn't care for it, I usually keep that to myself. In all honesty, if I'm not into a book I usually don't finish it.

I understand that there's a fine line for authors who wish to be or consider themselves reviewers, but it doesn't bother me, because I read for my own pleasure, not to rate or evaluate the books. In fact, I try my best not to read as a writer because it takes some of the magic away.

I don't think it's truly about wanting to be a critic or reviewer. A lot of times, it's simply talking about what movies you watched, games you've played, books you've read, CD's you've bought...etc in a very casual manner on your own personal blog. But because we're writers, we don't usually just say we liked or disliked a book--we tend to analyze a bit more. And once you've gained a bit of a following as a writer, people will likely make a big deal out of your comments about books you didn't like--that's when it starts to get a bit dangerous.

aadams73
12-29-2011, 10:46 PM
Now that I've had time to think about this...

For the most part, I won't do it for the following reasons:

1. Bad karma.

2. Writing a novel of publishable quality is hard work. I know what it's like. I know the process that author has been through to get to the point where I'm holding the end product in my hands. I don't want to do anything to undermine that. Publishing is tough enough as it is without me adding my two negative cents.

3. I'm a writer. When I read, I can't help noticing things that would probably never bother a non-writing reader. So I can't always deliver an impartial reader review. That's just not fair.

4. I'm a reasonably nice person. I don't generally like to hurt people's feelings.

5. Writing is solitary, publishing is not. I'm part of a team. The rest of the team does their best to make me look good, and--in turn--I do my best to be worthy of that and make them look good. Dissing (does anyone even use that word anymore? Too bad; I did) another author's book could put us all in an uncomfortable situation come blurb time, or panel time, or whatever. I'll pass, thanks.

If I love a book, I'll sing its praises everywhere I go. If I don't, I never talk about it publicly--period. Why give a bad (in my opinion) book any more publicity? I'd rather spend my time pushing books that knocked my socks off.

And if that means someone doesn't have respect for me, that's cool. I do what's right for me, my conscience, and my career. And I'm okay with you doing what's right for yours. We've all got our own boats to row.

Lunatique
12-30-2011, 08:28 AM
One danger of only mentioning stuff you like, is people might get the impression that you are a sycophant and uncritical, or that you do it in order to win some obligatory praises from those you've said good things about. It might come off as being a bit fake.

Anne Lyle
12-30-2011, 11:31 AM
I think you can review books you like without seeming sycophantic. Even the books I love are seldom perfect, and I can generally find something that I think could have been done better, or which simply doesn't chime with me. A 4-5 star review doesn't have to be all "ZOMG!!1!!! this is teh awesum" :)

Amadan
12-30-2011, 05:17 PM
I think you can review books you like without seeming sycophantic. Even the books I love are seldom perfect, and I can generally find something that I think could have been done better, or which simply doesn't chime with me. A 4-5 star review doesn't have to be all "ZOMG!!1!!! this is teh awesum" :)


I've got no problem with 5-star reviews that say "ZOMG!!! This is teh awesum!" However, I am suspicious of reviewers who only write reviews like that.

Ken
12-30-2011, 05:35 PM
... if one writes a review it should be completely honest and unbiased. If one hesitates to do that or is unable to, for whatever reason, then one should not write the review. Otherwise they are doing a disservice to readers and indirectly damaging their reputation.

As a general rule of thumb, a writer should never review a book written by someone they know. Neither should they review a book written by someone who is published under the same imprint. I realize that this is done quite frequently. Between us, I think it stinks. And it's one reason I don't pay much attention to reviews, except in magazines and newspapers where ethics are more or less kept in check.

Anne Lyle
12-30-2011, 06:12 PM
As a general rule of thumb, a writer should never review a book written by someone they know.

That would be quite difficult for me now, after 3 years of convention attendance - the UK SFF community is ridiculously small!

I make it a rule not to review a book solely because I know (and like) the author - I have to want to read the book on its own merits, regardless of who wrote it. I know some great writers whose books are just not my thing, and I'm not going to be dishonest and praise them, so I just keep quiet :)

aadams73
12-30-2011, 06:32 PM
That would be quite difficult for me now, after 3 years of convention attendance - the UK SFF community is ridiculously small!


That's a great point. And really, the (trade) publishing community is pretty tiny, too. We have fewer degrees than Kevin Bacon.



I make it a rule not to review a book solely because I know (and like) the author - I have to want to read the book on its own merits, regardless of who wrote it. I know some great writers whose books are just not my thing, and I'm not going to be dishonest and praise them, so I just keep quiet :)

I read what I like, and the end result is that I like most of what I read. I'm not a horrifically picky reader and a book has to be pretty damn bad for me to dislike it or walk away before The End.

So when I say I liked a book, I really, really did.

If I don't like a book, my boyfriend and friends hear ALL about it, with lots of punctuation marks and much hand-waving.

Not talking about books I didn't like in public works for me. I don't see that changing. And I'm sure the people I do business with are glad of that.

Jamiekswriter
12-30-2011, 06:52 PM
I almost never do book reviews aside from maybe a throwaway line or two in my blog. Like how much I'm enjoying reading "The Help" right now. Or how helpful a nonfiction book was to me.

I've got a lot of friends who are writers and if I didn't care for their book, I just wouldn't say anything. Let's face it, my negative review could really hurt them and it's just my opnion. What I might find boring and ho-hum, someone else might really like. Even a "meh" review might mean someone wouldn't buy my friends' books. If they press me to do it and I had issues with the book, I'd show them a copy of the review first. I wouldn't change it, but I'd give them an option of me not posting it.

However, if I love a friends book I try and post a review. I don't always find the time, though. I mostly chat it up to anyone who will listen and go into book stores and front face the covers on the bookshelf :e2sven:.

The only time I would write a negative review is if I hated it with the passion of a thousand suns and needed to either vent before I exploded or warn a reader. (Although I didn't hate it, I was *distressed* over the end of Anne Bishop's Jewels series with Janelle and Surreal. I was glad to get a spoiler review so I knew what to expect. If I hadn't, it would have been a shovel to the gut.) I usually only get that way over a book/series I truly am invested in and care about that jumps the shark. And that's actually a compliment, if you get someone so worked up over your latest book (Laurell K. Hamilton for example has a whole Livejournal community snarking on her.), that's a lotta love in a weird way.

I guess if you feel compelled to write a negative review, just be fair and honest. Keep the snark to a minimum or leave it out at all and be prepared for a backlash whether it's from the author, rabid fans or the publisher. If you're honest and nice, you have nothing to defend.

And while I agree with Stephen King on Stephanie Meyer, he should really not throw stones. His last couple of books could really have used a good edit :D.

Amadan
12-30-2011, 07:10 PM
I guess if you feel compelled to write a negative review, just be fair and honest. Keep the snark to a minimum or leave it out at all and be prepared for a backlash whether it's from the author, rabid fans or the publisher. If you're honest and nice, you have nothing to defend.

Author and rabid fan backlash warms the cockles of my heart, and provides many hours of entertainment on fandom_wank.


And while I agree with Stephen King on Stephanie Meyer, he should really not throw stones. His last couple of books could really have used a good edit :D.

Yeah, but he didn't say Stephanie Meyer needs a good editor. He said she's not a good writer. Which is true.

Jamiekswriter
12-30-2011, 07:16 PM
Yeah, but he didn't say Stephanie Meyer needs a good editor. He said she's not a good writer. Which is true.

Oh, I thought he said what the meme going around is something like "Twilight is a story about how important it is to have a boyfriend.

Also I think if Stephen King commented on my book (even if he said, "It blows many horned goats") My first reaction would be fangirl squeeing OMG OMG SK read my book!!!! And then I would hold up my copy of "On Writing" and "Danse Macabre" and say I learned a lot from them :D

Amadan
12-30-2011, 07:25 PM
Oh, I thought he said what the meme going around is something like "Twilight is a story about how important it is to have a boyfriend.



He said that too.

Perks
12-30-2011, 07:48 PM
One danger of only mentioning stuff you like, is people might get the impression that you are a sycophant and uncritical, or that you do it in order to win some obligatory praises from those you've said good things about. It might come off as being a bit fake.

My list of reasons for only reviewing books I like is completely in line with Alex's. I think there's an easy way to stay on the non-sycophant side of the street and that is by being up front about it.

I'm an editor at a literary news and info website (AuthorScoop in my sig) and we are approached all the time for reviews. My standard, and completely true, answer is that we don't do reviews on request, only when we're moved in our personal reading to post an opinion.

Alessandra Kelley
12-30-2011, 08:11 PM
I guess if you feel compelled to write a negative review, just be fair and honest. Keep the snark to a minimum or leave it out at all and be prepared for a backlash whether it's from the author, rabid fans or the publisher. If you're honest and nice, you have nothing to defend.

I always try to be honest with my reviews. I'm out to help readers decide if a book is right for them.

But I have to say, I was startled by a backlash against some positive reviews I wrote on Amazon.

Last July I posted three reviews of Steampunk art books (http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A3RHLKG075RPW0/ref=cm_pdp_rev_title_2?ie=UTF8&sort_by=MostRecentReview&tag=vglnk-c1189-20#R1LK9Q812GKZFR) on Amazon. If you look, they're all good reviews. I genuinely liked the books. However, within hours of my posting them, several people checked my reviews as "unhelpful" and I got some angry comments on one of them. I think this may be because I -- gently, I hope -- noted the rarity of women artists and/or persons of color in two of the books.

They were not meant to be negative reviews. They were not even confrontational. But it was startling and rather discouraging to get such a reaction.

dolores haze
12-30-2011, 09:02 PM
As a general rule of thumb, a writer should never review a book written by someone they know. Neither should they review a book written by someone who is published under the same imprint. I realize that this is done quite frequently. Between us, I think it stinks. And it's one reason I don't pay much attention to reviews, except in magazines and newspapers where ethics are more or less kept in check.

I disagree. If I review someone I "know" I just put a disclaimer on it, explaining my connection to them. Readers can decide for themselves if I'm a squeeing fangirl or just another reader with an opinion.

Mutive
12-30-2011, 10:51 PM
I disagree strongly with the 'good reviews only' policy. If I read reviews by someone who's only ever positive about their reading material, I doubt their sincerity. I've had five-star reviews from people who have also five-starred rapey BDSM shite, for instance. That alone makes me wonder about how discerning they are when it comes to erotic romance, and their opinion means less to me as a consequence.

I value reviews from people who aren't afraid to say when they don't like a book -- that way I know they could have said something bad about my work, but didn't. Therefore, their opinion is genuine and carries more weight.

I agree 100%.

I actually look for negative reviews on Amazon.com and read them first. I figure that if the reviewer is incoherent, I can ignore them. And that if what the reviewer hates most is something that wouldn't bother me much, that I'll probably like the book.

But I distrust all 4 and 5 star reviews that say nothing negative. I'm secretly convinced that the author is bribing people to only say nice things. Fair? Eh, probably not. But I figure that someone who says both good and bad things is more truthful than one who only says good stuff.

Perks
12-30-2011, 11:24 PM
Don't get me wrong, I approve of readers writing negative reviews. I also approve of writers writing negative reviews as they see fit. I'm not at all against whatever review a book has earned for the eyes that were most recently on it.

It's only for me and my sensibilities that it's not a good fit. I'm not comfortable giving negative reviews in a broadly accessed medium and since I don't run a book review site or make it any part of my regular web appearance, I can limit my commentary to truly enjoyable books that occasionally move me to say so out cyber-loud.

Ken
12-31-2011, 02:53 AM
If I review someone I "know" I just put a disclaimer on it, explaining my connection to them.

... that's a fine, and rather admirable, way of going about things. You've got my respect!

I still stand by my first post and don't really have anything to add. I'm not saying one can't be objective when reviewing a book written by someone they know, personally or professionally; just that it's difficult. So opting out is probably advisable, though not mandatory.

It's not just that one might give a writer they know a favorable review, either. The opposite can also happen. A reviewer may try to be completely fair and overdo it by being more critical than deserved. It's not an easy balance to swing.

And then there are the many writers who give favorable reviews to books simply because they know the author in some way or other. How does one determine that? One goes out and buys the book, finds out it rots, wonders why the reviewer could ever have recommended it, does a bit of research, and voila -- an answer materializes. The reviewer knows the author of the book in some way or other.

Grr. :Soapbox:

Ken
12-31-2011, 02:55 AM
That would be quite difficult for me now, after 3 years of convention attendance - the UK SFF community is ridiculously small!

I make it a rule not to review a book solely because I know (and like) the author - I have to want to read the book on its own merits, regardless of who wrote it. I know some great writers whose books are just not my thing, and I'm not going to be dishonest and praise them, so I just keep quiet :)

... it must be nice to belong to a close-knit community like that and be able to talk shop with fellow writers engaged in the same.

-------------------------

Maybe I'll give a convention a try this year.
(They've always been a bit intimidating to me.)

Anne Lyle
12-31-2011, 12:41 PM
... it must be nice to belong to a close-knit community like that and be able to talk shop with fellow writers engaged in the same.

It is indeed. Conventions (and writers' conferences) are great in that respect - I strongly recommend going, if there's an affordable one within travelling distance.

jjdebenedictis
12-31-2011, 11:30 PM
Author and rabid fan backlash warms the cockles of my heart, and provides many hours of entertainment on fandom_wank.Ah, yes. Why am I not at all surprised you hang around at F_W? Many AWers will occasionally aim their snark-guns at a topic. You, on the other hand, have been known to zoom your flame-thrower of a snark-cannon (mounted on tank treads, I'm sure) in to gleefully flatten the place.

It really is quite glorious. And now I know why your style seemed so very, very familiar. :D

BardSkye
12-31-2011, 11:34 PM
I never post anything anywhere on the net that I would not be willing to shout out on a downtown street corner.

I've recently started posting reviews on audible.com of books I've bought. Not all of them, as many are old print favourites, just ones I haven't previously read. I use my real name. Most have been good. A couple have been enthusiastically good. Several books I haven't liked but haven't posted reviews because the bits that turned me away were strictly a matter of taste (like too much swearing but the swearing is part of the character).

I've only posted one negative review so far. Didn't finish the book and said so. Told readers if they were looking for a thumping good mystery this was not the book for them. If they were looking for a thinly-disguised rant on social inequality, then by all means buy the book.