Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The book you didn't like

As an indie writer, I know how challenging it can be to get reviews for your books. It's one of the biggest hurdles any writer faces, indie or traditionally published and one I understand too well.

So what happens when you read a book you don't like? What happens if the person in question isn't mean, did their best, and it just didn't connect with you?

You write a review.

Even if it's a bad one.

Because a bad review is better than no review, although I'll get back to this later.

The two main things I put forth in a review focus on being honest and on not being mean. The first one is easy. Did you like a book? Why did you like it or didn't like it? Don't offer spoilers and instead focus on your experience with the book. But be honest. To me, that's one of the key things in life because if you're not honest, what good is your review. The second bit is that you shouldn't be mean, which isn't difficult either. Too often people read a book they really dislike and rip it to shreds and are heartless about it. That only serves to fuel your ego and it isn't cool.

I recently read The Brass Giant by Brooke Johnson and as I wrote on my review on Goodreads, I didn't particularly love her book and gave my reasons why I didn't like it and also shared what I DID like.

For me, my five star review rating system goes something like this:

1 star: why the hell did you write this? (I've never given a 1 star review because if it deserves 1 star, that I finished it is a sad miracle in and of itself)

2 stars: I finished the book but if this were a series, I don't think I'll stick around for the rest.

3 stars: I didn't love the book but I might check out the second one if there is a second one.

4 stars: I'm going to read you next time around for sure.

5 stars: I'm thankful to have read this and want more so write more please write more.

I gave Brooke's book 2 stars and explained that it was more than likely to do with my expectations being off target. In short, I've been wanting to read a steampunk book for the longest time and on this occasion, well I read a romance book that had steampunk elements.

Did I say it was a horrible book? No. I said it was not my cup of tea and closed a 2 star review recommending the book thinking of people who might enjoy the book. Now I'm writing this blog post and have included links to her website AND her book, the one I didn't like.


Because I'm not God. My opinion isn't the end all of it all. And in addition, Brooke took the review well and then some. No doubt a 2 star review stings more than a little and probably some of what I said as well, but she took it with grace and showed that she understands that not everyone will love her book.

I'm sure other people are not as gracious.

For me, I've been lucky that a big chunk of people that have read me have enjoyed my book, but I have had conversations with people who have not liked a book and I always ask what they didn't like and why. I do this not because I'm a masochist but because I want to understand. In her response, Brooke said she was sorry I didn't like the book although she wouldn't apologize for the elements of romance. That is the right answer if you ask me. You don't apologize for what you write. Ever. You say sorry that someone didn't enjoy but you don't apologize for your vision.

Being an author, the temptation to not give a bad review is obviously there. You never want to upset other fans, because heaven forbid that you suffer their backlash. The thing is that beyond a writer and a reader, I am a human and not doing something to avoid upsetting someone is rarely the best route of action.

I gave a 2 star review and that isn't the end of the world neither for Brooke, nor for me. Her book and I didn't click and that's Ok. But I paid for her book, I gave it chance, and I reviewed her book, being honest and thinking of people who would enjoy the book. That's why a bad review is a good thing, because for my 2 star review, I hope I am able to connect it to other readers who ARE looking for what she and other writers have to offer.

There are many cups of tea in life, just because you don't like one, doesn't mean it's rubbish.

Peace, love, and maki rolls.

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