Thursday, August 21, 2008

...But Isn't It Prejudicial?

On yesterday's post about the accuracy behind the stereotype that reviewers = aspiring writers, we got a crap ton of different responses: Lots said they were indeed Aspiring, others said they were Writers Sans Aspirations, others proclaimed they'd like to work in the publishing biz, and others still said they do this for fun and don't have any plans for working in the Biz.

So. Cool. Range. Woot.

Now my question is, as I've seen this being raised elsewhere: Say you give a popular book (or any book really) a particularly negative review. The author is a big name. When your time comes, you'll be targeting a lot of authors for blurbs. So...criticizing stuff now kind of burns bridges, yes? I mean, if they find out...

On one hand, it's great for building connections. We're RIGHT THERE face to face with loads of publicity and author folks. On the other, isn't it prejudicial?


Chelsea said...

Yeah, I definitely get what you're saying. But when I write a review, I try to clear all of that out of my mind. If I didn't like something about a book, I'll say it, but I'll also back it up with something good (because I can almost always find SOMETHING worthy of good recognition in a book. Why else would they be published?)

So, in most cases, I don't worry about that too much, because I always have at least one good thing to say (and it's always honest.) I'm just enjoying the reading and good authors for now - I'm sure there may be some consequences later, but when I think about all the amazing authors I've met so far, I find myself leaning more towards the positive side of things.

Heather said...

It's not the burning bridges for a future career that worries me when I write a negative review, it's the backlash. I want an author to read what I have to say and take it in as helpful criticism, or secretly hate me for life, it really doesn't matter. What I don't like, is receiving mail from the author about how much they disliked my review and why. If it's an unfair review, that's fair, but if it's a fair review, the author isn't giving much credit to my opinions. Not everybody in the world is going to like your book(s).

Mostly, I don't worry, though. I like to say what I want to say. If it burns bridges, then it burns bridges. But usually I come across spectacular authors that I would never have met (or maybe even known about) if I hadn't written the review or gotten a copy of the book for that purpose. So mostly it's a risk you have to take (destroying connections) in order to gain. You can't really be afraid of reviewing a book negatively.

Tigerlily said...

Authors need to have a tough skin. We know they probably already do, because they've been through the editing process. I mean, editors just rip apart your baby and expect you to be okay with that. Reviewers like us, on the other hand, are just lonely little bloggers, who don't really matter when there are (probably) so many good reviews out there. And I think authors realize that we are going to do what we think is right, and hopefully they won't even remember that it was you who gave them that bad review. ;-)

Amee said...

I'm not worried. If I ever actually write something book length and publishable, it will probably be long after my reviewing stint. That isn't my only reason for not worrying though.

Another reason I don't worry is because I think authors are intelligent people who don't hold negative reviews against the reviewer. It seriously isn't meant as anything personal (for me it isn't anyway--I write the review with the book in mind, not the author). If an author *is* going to hold it against me than I probably don't want their support. They can bash my book on their own blog if they're looking for revenge on a subjective piece of work.

Just a side note: Meg Cabot has said in her blog that she only blurbs books she enjoys. I assume the authors of the books she doesn't blurb never know she's had or read their book, but it just goes to show that even authors don't like every book they read. And they won't support every book just because it was written by a fellow YA/chicklit/MG/whatever writer.

Simply_Megan said...

I think that if you publish something, anything at all, you have to be ready for criticism. I believe in telling the truth, so if I didn't like the book, I write that in my review. Not everyone is going to like a book and hopefully authors are smart enough to understand that. And it even works the other way; there's probably someone out there that will like it.

But as for burning bridges, if I do become an author, I don't think anyone will be looking at my blog and bashing my book because of some bad reviews. At least, I hope not lol.

Rachael Stein said...

i really dont write reviews to please authors. if it does, then that's just a plus. i'll write a negative review of any book if i didnt like it, and i'll stick by my opinion no matter what even if other people give me s*** for it. it s my opinion after all.

i agree with tigerlily. i wouldnt say i've written too many negative reviews, but most authors seem to handle it pretty well. even if i only offer a little criticism, they usually take it as helpful advice. they make the negative thing into a positive one. i've only ever had one author get angry (or upset?) over a review i wrote, and it wasnt even that negative. he then wrote in a blog post about how i seemed to like more girly girl books and thus his book was not for me. that really pissed me off. and later on, it pissed off some other people too, but that's not the point. if you're gonna write, you'd better be able to handle any criticism you get.

plus, like chelsea, i usually throw in the good things of the book as well.

as for connections, i'm not too worried. if an author doesnt like my review, big deal if he/she doesnt want me to review their books anymore. there are millions of books in the world for me to read, i think i can handle it.

(there is seriously so much more i can write about this, but i think i'll stop now)

Anonymous said...

I honestly don't know whether I can add anything new to the plate after reading what other people said. I pretty much agree with everyone else, especially with what Ambeen said.

I mean, so what if you don't like a big name author's book and they didn't like it, and so therefore won't blurb your book if/when it's published? There are plenty of other authors to blurb it. Like many reviewers, I don't write all that many negative reviews (or well, really, any since I'm easy to please) so I'd imagine that it wouldn't be a huge problem writing a negative review now and being snubbed by an author later. Unless you're like some hate-filled blogger who doesn't like any book that's sent to you. In which case, why are you wasting time blogging in the first place?

Another angle is this- how would the big name author even know/remember your name? I mean, you could've given your address to their publicist and not them specifically. Or there's bound to be several years in between your writing of the review and the date of your book release. And it would be really stupid of an author to hold a grudge for that long and even remember it. It's one review on a blog. No biggie.

Booked Books said...

I've honestly never thought about that before.

I can't think of any author would be petty enough to hold a grudge so long though. I mean it's just one review, not the end of the world. Nah, they probably have more important stuff to do, like write more books.

I also think negative reviews are good as long as they're constructive. I've written a few negative reviews, but I don't bash the book relentlessly. For the most part, I try to point out the good and bad in every book I read...unless the book is REALLY horrible or REALLY good.

The Compulsive Reader said...

If an author is going to petty enough to hold a grudge about something negative I said about their book, I don't want their blurb anyway.

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