Friday, November 21, 2008

Booking Through Thursday Friday: The Dreaded Honesty

I may officially join this Booking Through Thursday business if the questions continue to be so freaking awesome.

So, question:

I receive a lot of review books, but I have never once told lies about the book just because I got a free copy of it. However, some authors seem to feel that if they send you a copy of their book for free, you should give it a
positive review.

Do you think reviewers are obligated to put up a good review of a book, even if they don’t like it? Have we come to a point where reviewers *need* to put up disclaimers to (hopefully) save themselves from being harassed by unhappy authors who get negative reviews?
Something I think all authors should realize when they sign a contract is that once that book is printed and bound, it's out of their hands. When another, unrelated-to-the-project person reads it, they don't know ANYTHING about the author's intention, or history. So, they take their own meaning from the story. While writing a book is a hugely personal thing, once it flies away, it ain't coming back. We readers make it ours, depending on our own history, perspective, and context.

This in mind, if you send me a book, you thereafter agree to let me do your job, and that is to be a reader. You're the writer, the mirror-maker - I look at the mirror and whatever I see, you can't tell me I'm wrong. (Unless I snark on the author. Then I am absolutely wrong. Feel free to call me out on it. Note the difference between "author" and "book", however.)

And in fact, if you follow this line of thinking, there is no bad book, just the wrong reader for a certain book. But I still firmly believe this much is only true when the book is well-crafted. The problem is, some (read: a lot) of books have many weak spots, in which case I say it sucks (in different amounts, depending, but nevertheless sucks).

Which again is very subjective, what you perceive as a flaw or not. This, my friends, is why it's important to find a source of book recommendations whose taste correlates with yours.

Okay and now I must get back to reading.

5 comments:

Amee said...

Well said! Although I don't think you have to find a source that correlates with your taste. I've read negative reviews and seen something I would probably like that that person just didn't. I've read several books based on negative reviews and liked them. ;)

Diana Dang said...

Quite true, I tend to rant once in awhile if I get going about it. Unless the writer themself send me a book (not through a site or company) then I try to look for the stronger points.

ALEXA YOUNG said...

I really hope reviewers focus their energies on the book and NOT on the author or what they think the author wants/expects to hear. I know it's hard to be totally objective that way, but I appreciate it when a reviewer--in spite of corresponding with me, especially--is able to take that relationship out of the equation.

Of course, I still think Reviewer X gave FRENEMIES an "A" because of the AWESOMEness that is MOI! ;-) Right? Right? Right?

XO

Alea said...

You should definitely keep doing booking through thursday :)

Sarah Quigley said...

Of course you should be honest! You're not much help to other readers OR the author if you sugar coat things. I taught writing to college students for several years, and sometimes I was tempted to give some of them better grades simply because I personally really liked them (yes, professors are biased, but the good ones fight it). I especially liked the students who bought me lattes and complimented my outfits and said I was their favorite professor. But at the end of the day, my job was to help them improve, and I wasn't going to tell them their papers were good when they sucked.

I know I have a lot of things to work on in my own writing, and I learned a ton from writing TMI. Now, I want to make my next book better, and the one after that even better, and so on. If I respect a reviewer's opinions and they have problems with my book, I'm going to take what they have to say seriously.

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