Many of you may know that I’ve been doing book reviews the past few months as a Netgalley member. Some of the books I’ve chosen have looked amazeballs when I’ve read the blurbs that are posted and I’ve requested them hoping to find new authors to read.
What’s that old saying about not judging a book by its cover? Well, I’d like to add you can’t always judge it by its book jacket blurb either.
Let me ‘esplain.
I recently read 4 books I’d requested that sounded fabulous, but once I started reading them, I realized they were not for me. There was nothing critically wrong with them – they just didn’t resonate with me from a reader viewpoint. Since I’d requested– and been granted– them, I had an obligation to review them. But I didn’t. I did rate them, but I couldn’t do justice to a written review. I didn’t want to state that the plot didn’t hold up, or that I’d found timeline mistakes or unfulfilled character arcs. In one case, I did find the plot so implausible, I was surprised the book was listed as a contemporary when it really should have put in the fantasy category.
I don’t like giving criticism – constructive or otherwise – so I never wrote an actual review to post on Goodreads, etc. I know that those authors put their best feet forward, that they worked tirelessly, sweating and toiling to put out the story of their hearts. Unfortunately, that story just wasn’t for me – no fault of the writers.
The reason I’m telling you this is because not everyone is like me. Netgalley, Goodreads, amazon, really anyplace that does book reviews, has millions of bad, nasty, and heartbreaking ones. I can’t imagine what that must do to the authors who read them. I’ve had two reviewers ( not professional ones, but romance readers) for two different books of mine say this:
-for one book, the reader gave it a 1 ( out of 5) and said I wrote the wrong book.
-for the other, the reader gave it a 2 and said she couldn’t get into the story.
I could have written both these people nasty letters, but didn’t because I understood what they were saying. I didn’t agree with them, but for whatever reason, they didn’t like the story I’d told. That’s the basis of an opinion – it can be different from what you think. This is, after all, a society that bases itself on freedom of speech and thought.
I was raised with the mantra if you can’t say something nice, keep your mouth shut. I do that. I practice that with my reviews, and in every area of life. Do I ever slip up and say something I regret? Sure. I’m human. But I have never written- and will never write – a review that calls into question the writer’s integrity, thought process, talent ( or lack of), or question the reasons for writing what they did. Just because something didn’t resonate with me, doesn’t mean it doesn’t with others. The book I read recently with the implausible plot is currently one of the hottest sellers on the market.
So, I guess what I really want to say is this: I write, first, last and always, for me. If I like it, I am happy. Unfortunately, I am in a business where money is spent on what I write, so I have to make sure it fits a wide range of reading tastes or the book won’t sell, the publisher will drop me, and I will be back at square one with no books on the market. If you like something I’ve written, yay! Do me a favor and tell people you liked it by writing a review or rating it on Amazon, goodreads, etc. If you don’t like something I’ve written, I’m sorry. It just didn’t fit with you. But please don’t go and write a scathing review just because you didn’t. There are other ways you can let me know you don’t like what I wrote – first and foremost by not purchasing another book! One bad review has a domino effect on sites like goodreads and amazon, where those companies look at data to determine if they are going to promote an author and their book or not. Again, old sayings are cliche because they are true: you can get 100 fabulous reviews, but the one lousy one will stick with you for a lifetime!
If this blog sounds like a big whine-fest, I’m sorry. But I needed to say what I said.
‘Nuff said for now.