Saturday, July 23, 2011

Honesty in Reviewing.

This is something that I've thought a lot about lately, and something that I had a 'discussion' about with a few fellow bloggers on Twitter.

We've all been there.  You're reading a book and you just can't get into it.  Sometimes its so bad that you can't even finish it, other times you finish it, but you just don't like it.  It happens, you just can't like everything.
A lot of bloggers/reviewers struggle with this.  They seem to be under the impression that if you're asked to review a book, that you have to like it and you have to write a good review.

Lately, I've seen several bloggers on Twitter talking about how they didn't really like whatever books they were reading, but then when the actual review shows up in my reader, its glowing.  They loved the book, it was fantastic, and they have nothing bad to say about it.  How exactly does that work?  I'm aware that opinions change and sometimes books don't get good until midway or the very end, but if that were the case, wouldn't you at least mention that?  By not, I see that as being slightly dishonest.  When we review, our readers are looking for our honest opinion, whether its an ARC for a writer that's not set to come out for months, a hot new release you just bought, or a tried an true classic that most people have already read.

If you don't like the book, say so!  I think the biggest thing that bloggers forget is that sometimes its not what you say, but how you say it.  By no means am I saying that if you don't like a book you should just post about how awful it was, how much you hated it, etc.  That's where constructive criticism comes into play.  The very first review request that I received was honestly not one of my favorite books.  It was okay, but not super awesome. I was intimidated when it came to first writing the review, because I wasn't sure how to go about it.  I decided to be as honest as possible.  I put what I liked, the things that I didn't like, and what might be done differently and made sure to highlight the points to show other readers why they may like the book, while I did not.  That's all an author could ask for, right?  That gives them exactly what they need to know.  And by writing a positive review and you don't feel positively about the book, you're not doing the author favors either.

In fact, most authors, while not happy that there are reviews out there that aren't glowing, would be thankful that you were honest.  While talking on Twitter, I got these tweets :

Photobucket Photobucket
So, you can see that other bloggers share my sentiments.  Another blogger brought up the point that sometimes your opinion can change after you read the book.  You may think you liked it, then decide later you didn't.  This is true.  That's one reason that if I'm undecided or think I may change my mind, I wait to post the review.  One thing I see on bloggers pages all the time is quaLITY not quaNTITY will gain more followers in the long run.

I think bloggers are afraid of ruffling author's feathers or making people upset.  Its all about the way you go about things.  I think all bloggers/reviewers should be very careful to be as honest and as constructive as possible in their posts.  I think it would be to the benefit of all parties involved, the blogger, the readers, and the authors.

What are your opinions on this?  Is this something that you've noticed as well?  How would you react if you read a  positive review that a blogger previously said they disliked?  I want your opinions!  Now, discuss! :]

6 comments:

Smash Attack said...

Honesty is the only way, but you have to be professional and courteous about it. Tell them what didn't work for you in a tactful manner, and don't ever attack the author. I actually have a review next Thursday on a book from a very popular YA series that didn't work for me. I hated admitting it and writing the review, but remaining honest is a must. Otherwise, what the heck is the point?

sleighanne said...

Exactly! Don't just say "I hate it, its awful." Authors appreciate CONSTRUCTIVE criticism. Sure, it might take more time to write a review like that, but like you said, there's no point in being dishonest. It doesn't really help anyone.

danny carroll said...

I think ho

sleighanne said...

No,they were saying how they felt bad for not liking this book that so many other people liked, then raved about it on their blog. That sort of thing drives me nuts. Don't like it because everyone else did.
But you're totally right about being honest. Just be tactful about it. Constructive criticism is always helpful as an author. Of course, sometimes it doesn't matter if you even say that you liked it, but point out some things that didn't work for you. My first review request, I liked it, but there were parts I just didn't like, and I pointed it out, but not negatively. Anyway, he read my review and after that never responded to my email which had questions about the book. If he had actually answered my questions I may have understood the book better and liked it more...oh well.

booksandmovies said...

I think honesty is essential if you want anyone to take your blog seriously. On my blog, you won't find many books rated below 3-stars, and that's because I don't finish them. Life is too short and my reading list too long to spend it reading a book I don't like. With books I was sent to review, I will probably give it a longer chance, but I still have no problem setting a review copy aside if it's simply not working for me. I know a lot of bloggers who insist on finishing the book and then honestly reviewing it - and I admire that. For me, I'd rather move on to a book I enjoy.

Ashley said...

This really drives me crazy. I see people who give a book 3 stars on GR or their blog but have nothing bad to say about a book & their reviews GLOW. It's fine if 3 stars means you liked a book... But it also means there were definitely some things NOT good about it. So talk about those too!

Sigh...

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