To Review or Not to Review

Cat watchingSo how do you review? I’ve always thought a critique was giving an opinion on both the good and bad of a book, where as a review concentrated more on how the story made you feel. After reading many reviews I’ve seen it can be all of the above.

That brings up the question, what if you don’t like it? How do you handle that? What if the Point of View is all over the place, the story is disjointed and doesn’t flow, or the grammar is so poor you struggle to read it? What do you say then? Do you publicly humiliate the author?

I can understand the frustration of readers of Indie Authors. Being an avid reader I’ve tried to be supportive of Indie’s, but I’ve been irritated a few times. So Amazon won’t kick out my reviews, I purchase all my reads. I’ve found that the book cover will look awesome as well as having an interesting synopsis, but after the purchase, I find myself  struggling with a hard-to-read product.

What I’m finding most of the time is there is a good story in there, but it’s hidden by lack of Point of View, or sentence structure that makes no sense. Then there is poor formatting, miss-spelled words or wandering story line. I always wonder, ‘how did the editor let that slide?’  So I will ask the author if they had it edited. I’ve received some interesting replies that I won’t repeat, but 99.9 percent of the time, there was no editor. Why am I not surprised? My favorite reply was “It’s my story and you either like it or you don’t.” Sigh…..

As an Author, I really get frustrated. If readers can’t trust they are getting a good product, this tarnishes all of our reputations as writers and drives them away from Indie’s. There is a reason publishers have editors. It’s because all authors need them. Just as we need beta readers, and re-writes. What makes sense to us, what we love about our little creations, may look totally different to others. We need unbiased opinions to help us create the best story we can.

But back to my original question. What do you do? Do you go ahead and do a review?

If it is that poor, I will do two things. I will contact the author and ask a few questions. Their tone of response will then temper what I do next. If they are interested in my inquires, if  they ask questions back and I can politely share my opinion, I will then go on and give a nice, but honest review. I have the author read it first and they can either approve or disapprove my posting of  it. This is important. As an author I have to remember how it would feel if someone reviewed me harshly.  But if they state it is what it is, I do not review.

I have a responsibility as a reader and author to create an honest review for the next interested reader. If I inflate it and don’t represent it honestly, the next reader is no longer going to trust my review or my own writing. It is a double-edged sword. I want to support my fellow Indie, but they have to want to produce the best product they can.

So what do you do? To review or not to review? What are your guidelines?

8 thoughts on “To Review or Not to Review”

  1. I think I need not elaborate what I do too much. I am known for my honesty even when it kills. I may not be the best person to give this advice, but here goes. If you like it to love it to cant live without it, put it on the blog. If you don’t like it to really hate it to I’m going to vomit–write the review for amazon or goodreads but also try to keep the feelings of the author in mind and simply state that it is your opinion and in now way is meant to reflect on the author, simply the work.

  2. You are very fair in your comments Robynn. Speaking personally I couldn’t review someone’s work, in case I didn’t like it and then I wouldn’t know what to say. I have had some people post reviews that are biased and not based on my story, but on me. That’s not fair nor just.

    1. To base a review on you personally is not only unfair, but unprofessional. Proving it is irrelevant. We must always put ourselves in the shoes of the person receiving the review. I agree with you though. I was taught if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all. By the way, love the pics of the grandbaby!

  3. I review using the Joe Bob Briggs method. It’s all about the number of naked bodies, the number of dead bodies and the unique method of death. Clearly certain genres will not do well using this method. But I also clearly prefer some genres over others and they happen to coincide with this method of review. Another great post Robynn. 🙂

    1. Why thank you Rick! I’ve never hear of the Joe Bob Briggs method, but it certainly sounds intriguing and entertaining! I try to stay in the genres I know as well. But my frustration level is at a slow boil with the poorly written stories being released. It really does drag the Indie’s down who care and spend the money, time and effort to create a professional piece of work. I suppose there will always be those who are only in it for the money. Hope you had a great weekend and thank you for stopping by!

  4. If you’re speaking about reviews on your blog, Robynn, then you can always do what a great deal of bloggers do: explain your review policy. I give honest, balanced reviews, myself, the same way I critique. Almost every book has positives and negatives.

    1. Hey you! Thanks for reading. I was speaking of the Amazon reviews. I don’t do reviews on my blog. With the backlash I’ve received from some of the authors I’ve reviewed on Amazon, no way am I going to put it on my blog. LOL No, this is from people who ask me to review their work and then aren’t happy with my opinion. Why can’t they understand opinion, I don’t know. But I agree with you. Every book has positives and negatives. It’s just the one’s who write poorly and can’t seem to understand they need to improve that I don’t understand. I’m going to develop a grading scale and stick within those guidelines. Hope you had a good weekend!