My sentiments, exactly…

I’ve been thinking about this “reviewing other authors’ work” business a lot lately, ever since I started writing all these wee reviews of the wee books from the Konrath 8-hour Challenge. I will soon make a little addition to my reviewer’s profile over on Amazon, to wit:

You may notice that none of the books I review gets less than 4 stars from me. That doesn’t mean I never met a book I didn’t like. It means I won’t review it. And now that Chuck Wendig has written this awesome blog post on the subject, I don’t have to explain why. He does it for me!

Take it away, Chuck:

Why I don’t like to negatively review other authors, by Chuck Wendig.



6 responses

  1. Lindy .. I thought this a very insightful discussion … nothing that I hadn’t thought about at one point or another, but having it all in one place is helpful. It still doesn’t resolve the problem of feeling like you need to do a book review for someone who has praised you, but you can’t quite return the favor.

    1. Well, that’s easy (sometimes). I’ve come to realize that if someone has reviewed my book, it’s unethical to review theirs in return, no matter how honest my review. Not only that, but Amazon might remove both reviews and delete a few others — just because they can.

      Thank the other author for their support, and, if necessary, blame me and Chuck Wendig: refer them to “Quid Pro Ho.” (While ensuring them that OF COURSE Quid Pro Ho doesn’t apply in THEIR case, but that appearances are so important, don’t they agree…?)

  2. I haven’t read Wendig’s rationale, but I also won’t review anything I don’t like. Actually, I don’t READ anything I don’t like, at least not past the first chapter. Sometimes not past the first paragraph.
    But I know my tastes and preferences aren’t absolute, so what’s the point of disrespecting someone else’s creative labor? Someone else will love it.

  3. Mary: I feel your pain.

    I recently wrote a 1 star review of a well-received author’s book. All of it on subject matter (totally awful) and not mechanics or writing ability, which were all fine. A day or two later, I removed the review. I know how hard it is to write a good book, how much work it takes. I decided then if I don’t like a book, I’ll just be an author and not a critic. If I like it, I’ll positively review it. If not, I’ll move on. Haven’t read Wendig’s thing yet, will do now.

    1. I think you did the right thing. I’m reminded of Nabokov’s “Lolita.” It’s a brilliantly written, fascinating, manipulative book, but the subject matter still makes me sick.

  4. I agree with Chuck. Life’s too short to waste negative energy. If I’m asked to review a colleague’s book and I don’t think it’s very good, I probably would hedge my bet and say to the colleague something like “I can’t give this a great review, sorry, but I wish you well.”

    Better to be honest before committing to reviewing a book you think is subpar.

    I also prefer only to review books of established authors that I’ve enjoyed enough to give a positive review. if the book is subpar for them, I might just give it a star rating and leave it at that, if I do anything.

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