It seemed just yesterday that I joined IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group). But, three months have flown by and now I am posting my fourth post. IWSG started by Captain Ninja: Alex Cavanaugh, meets on the first Wednesday of every month. it’s a writer’s support group where we share our anxieties, doubts, fears and worries and help and support each other.
Two of my main writerly concerns are book reviews. I do a few book reviews on my blog and also for an Indian Newspaper for which I am doing the Literary Review for adult fiction. My first concern is that I would hate to have my review come across as harsh or over critical. I try to be honest about the reviews I do. I neither go into raptures nor do I tear the book or the writer into shreds.
I follow the middle path. I talk about the story (without giving away the ending), pace, writing and the main character and other plot techniques. These I feel are neutral topics. So even if I didn’t like the main character, I don’t feel the author should take offense.
I read a review, wherein the reviewer called the author a moron, who should never have written the book in the first place. In another review, the reviewer was glad that the author did not plan to write more books.
Now I come down to my second fear/anxiety. I hope my books don’t get such reviews. Where it’s mentioned that people are celebrating the fact that I am not planning to write more books or the fact that they fear being tortured by my writing.
What are your writing anxieties? Have you ever received a bad review or given one to a book? How do you handle reviews? Please share your review fears and anxieties. I would love to know.
Yes reviews can be so devastating. As Philip Pullman said once you release your book out into the public domain it no longer seems your property. There's always going to be idiots who savagely review work with sour grapes dripping from their pens, though.ReplyDelete
NO reviews can also be daunting because you wonder that people don't comment because they don't want to say anything bad...ReplyDelete
Any review is like facing a test but with time one gets matured to take things in stride!ReplyDelete
The middle ground sounds like a good approach. I don't like totally negative reviews and prefer to keep mine to middle to good.ReplyDelete
I get nervous about whether my reviews are any good. I have a hard time writing them.
Yeah... your insecurities are the reasons why I don't write reviews.ReplyDelete
Also, they're also the reason why I don't plan to read reviews on my book.
I gave a bad review only a few weeks ago. I'm still feeling a bit bad about it. My opinion about the book has not changed but I think my tone of voice was affected by other circumstances that had nothing to do with the book. I feel bad because I only wrote about the flaws I found in the book but I skipped the good things and it did have good things. I've decided not to write reviews again if I am in such an fiery mood. It's not fair to the author, even if the book was bad (in my opinion.)ReplyDelete
I think there's a way to give a 'bad review', but not come off as too harsh. Just the fact that you're worried about being that way is a good sign that you won't be.ReplyDelete
You can be honest and still use tact. Best of luck with it and thank you for the follow :)
It's so cool to even have your stuff in print for people to read:) Even if someone was foolish enough to be critical of your work, at least it's being talked about. Bad press is better than no press:)ReplyDelete
I think we fear reviews because we have no control whatsoever.ReplyDelete
I received a bad review once. It was on an article I wrote for an internet based company. They claimed I had spelling errors and other mistakes. Although I knew they were wrong, it still made me feel terrible. They told me I should consider another field. It bruised my fragile ego and took me weeks to recover.ReplyDelete
I finally picked myself back up and began writing again. They gave me my first layer of thick skin.
I'm glad you don't resort to name calling when you do your reviews. I find it to be disrespectful and tacky.
I seldom write a poor review, but that's partly because I pick my books carefully. Only twice did I give a poor review, and I like to think each was very tactful with hints about what might have made the book stronger. After all, the writer did put in so much effort. But when I do read a book that I think could have been better, I turn my eagle eye on my own work for your second reason, Rachna: I don't want bad reviews of my book whenever it comes out. :-)ReplyDelete
Hi friends, I am noticing that reviews can be quite taxing for us writers: both doing reviews of books and reading reviews of our own books. The trick is mention the weak points in the book in a subtle way so that we don't insult another writer. And also hope that people use tact when they review our books.ReplyDelete
I'm learning to put it off as there are stupid people everywhere and in every field, and some people just have to spread their own misery wherever they have the power to do so. It's unfortunate.ReplyDelete
The only scathing review I will dare give is for a well known author whose success will never be affected by what I have to say... such as for "It" by Stephen King. Though I love most of his books, I hated that one.
I can't imagine getting personal in a review. You're reviewing a book not a person. Personally I don't leave reviews of books I don't like because I usually don't finish them. But there should always be something in there constructive even in a negative review.ReplyDelete
Sadly, it will happen, because there are cruel people out there. Yes, I've had reviews like that. They do nothing to help either readers or authors. I think your take on a fair review sounds perfect.ReplyDelete
My CP and I were talking about this. I already know I won't be reading my reviews. She's going to be trying to do the same thing. There's not point, especially if you're traditionally published. It's not like you can change the book.ReplyDelete
Interesting questions. I've said I won't post any more fiction free because the perceived value is low. I've received some scathing reviews, which make me feel sick inside when I read them, but I'm getting used to dealing with the opinion of people who don't 'get' my stories.
In terms of writing reviews, I never insult the author. Being one myself, I know how much time and energy goes into producing a book. I say what I like and what I thought could have been done better - respectfully, of course.
yeah, reviews that attack the poor author aren't necessary. Not wishing to hurt an author's frail feelings, I no longer review books I don't like. I simply move on.ReplyDelete
I couldn't give a bad review. If I can't give a good review I give none. Apparently people can give a bad review because Amazon sent the book late!ReplyDelete
A bad review would be upsetting, but if it was fair then it could be helpful to the author as well as the potential reader.ReplyDelete
Negative reviews can be fair - not all books are good.
Personal attacks on the author are never fair. That's not what reviews are for. The review should be exclusively about the piece of work under review and nothing else.
I find it hard to write a bad review. I point out the bad and good things and I never get emotional. I've seen reviews that are dripping with negativity for either the book or author. I think that's going overboard.ReplyDelete
Basically, I think the reviewer should try to convey a flavour of the book, and then indicate what he/she considers its strong and weak points, normally in a neutral tone -- unless he/she is genuinely excited by the book, when I think that should show.ReplyDelete
I think bad reviews come with the territory of being a writer. If everyone liked the same stories there would only be one genre out there. This said, I still think a "bad review" can be given with tact and compassion. I always try to begin with the things I liked about a piece. Then I identify the areas I feel could use improvement.ReplyDelete
My feeling is, if I submit a piece for review, then I have to be open to the good, the bad and and ugly. Although most of the crits I've received on my Work-In-Progress have been favorable, I've also had to endure those that weren't. A couple of people didn't like the characters and one didn't like "dark stories." For me, I try to look for parallels in feedback. If the majority of people focus on one thing, then I usually take it seriously and consider ways to improve the piece.
Also, I try to keep in mind that the people who volunteer to review my work do so with the intent to help. I have learned to keep an open mind. In doing so, my writing and my story has improved exponentially.
I guess what I 'm trying to say here is, if a person requests a critique from you, then be honest. You owe it to the writer and yourself. Even if your words sting a bit, the writer needs to know the truth if she is ever to improve.
I enjoyed your post. I'm now a follower.
Don't worry about it. I do hope you (and I) don't get one of those super mean reviews, though I have gotten a couple that were pretty rough. The thing is, people that are so negative are not worth your time. They disqualify themselves as critics when all they do is personally attack the writer.ReplyDelete
Think about it, the only reason you need reviews is to attract more readers. Now, bad reviews scare readers, but when the review is nasty it can actually have the contrary effect. Others might give your book a chance because an ass was being too much of an ass...
Don't let negativity wear you down. Best of luck!