Monday, January 30, 2012

To Review or Not to Review...

This is my actual book shelf. Pretty soon I will have just as my books in my Kindle!


...That is the question that I pose to you, Fire Enthusiasts.

Greetings. I do not have a book review for you this week. Well, that is not entirely accurate. You see, I did complete a book this week and begin another; however, I have no plans to share anything about it with you here. Why am I being such a tease, you ask? It is because I thought that the book was merely only okay.

It would not be difficult for you to figure out which book I am referring to. We are all on many of the same sites, are we not? It would probably only take you a few moments to discover which book I'm referring to, but I hope that you won't actually attempt to figure it out. I would rather that you find the book and like it or not like it all on your own. The book didn't suck! Many of you might actually like it, and by all accounts, many have thought highly of it. I just thought it was a bit of a miss.

So, what's the big deal, you ask? The big deal is that although I do not really know the gentleman, I know of him. He's like me, and he's like many of you as well. No doubt he dreamt a lot about being a writer, and probably spent a lot of time dreaming up that book. He researched, outlined, wrote, rewrote, revised, edited and is now hard at work promoting the hell out of it, much like all of us. Knowing what I know about that whole process, I just don't feel the overwhelming urge to do anything but reach out and shake that man's hand, pat him on the back and wish him well.

I have one book written, and although it has received some pretty sweet reviews, I am quite certain that there are more than a few people who probably think I might be better off working my 11-12 hour day job and spending the rest of my evening watching television. *laughs* I also have my second book in the editing stages, as you know. Lastly, I started writing my third novel during Christmas vacation when that much publicized cold (read: whining blogs/Tweets) had begun to dissipate. I'll want lots of people to read all three of those books when they are all on a shelf together one day, virtual or otherwise, and not have someone go all negative on me.

Is that why I chose not to review that book, because of Karma? Absolutely not. I may write horror and listen to classic rock and 80's and 90's heavy metal on volume 20, but I also love to be moved by my books, movies and music. That means I have to have some feelings within me. And it is because of those feelings that I chose to be respectful and simply leave an "okay" review on one of the book social networks.

I want that author to keep writing, to keep perfecting his craft, regardless of what this guy thinks. What do you folks think? Should I have been respectful, but also specific? I know that some have gotten into it on the Internet due to negative reviews. I don't want any part of that. Probably no one does. Should I simply have pretended to "forget" that I had ever read that book and leave the reviewing to others?

What are your thoughts? I'd love to hear them.

Before I go, let's forgive Blogger together, cross our collective fingers and hope that you're able to leave a comment. I know things haven't been great in that regard, especially this past week. If you do have issues, you can always drop me a quick line on FB or Twitter. Sometimes that's much easier anyway.

We'll talk soon.

25 comments:

  1. You are very gracious. I don't review so-so books either. I simply assume I was not the target audience and someone else will love the book.

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  2. I'm torn on this. If I feel the story and writing itself was just so-so, I'm not apt to review them either. On the other hand, if there are glaring issues like a serious lack of editing, (typos, horrid punctuation) but I liked the story, I point it out.
    I don't do that to hurt the writer and I'm always careful to point out the things I DID like. I do it to help them. Maybe they don't realize their lack of proper punctuation makes it too hard to read, or that the typos are an issure for 99% of the readers out there. If no one points these things out to them and just pats them on the back, they will never have a chance to grow and improve. Even pointing out that you loved certain things but thought the characters needed more development can be helpful if done tastefully.
    However, if its just a matter of the story not resonating or falling flat--then I tend not to say anything at all. Sometimes, I can't put my finger on why something didn't reach out and grab me and to just say I didn't like it isn't helpful to anyone either. I guess it all boils down to the why and how it can be worded.
    Hopefully some of that rambling makes sense! ;)

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  3. Hey James! I think you made a very gentlemanlike decision here. We all know the pains (and pleasures!) of writing a book and also the subjective nature of the market. Some will love it, for others it will be merely mediocre. I respect your decision not to publicly review it. Personally, I only review those special books that move me:))

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  4. Love your bookshelf btw - looks yummy:)

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  5. I'm with Adriana on this. If a novel is so-so or doesn't totally resonate with me, I'm okay with that. Not all stories work for everyone. But, I try to find something about it that did work for me and will leave a review. I appreciate the hard work and thought that goes into writing and the need for some type of validation. However, if it I couldn't get through it at all, well, I just keep quiet. Never really thought about this before, so thanks for bringing attention to it, Jimmy.

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  6. Thoughtfully written and worded negative reviews are not a bad thing - many of my friends who are writers value them, because a well-written negative review will point out errors and problems that will allow that author to do a better job on the next book. What I do, personally, is this: if I have purchased and paid for that book and want to write a negative review, I will. And I'll post it. If I have been given a copy of a book and had someone ask me to write a review and it will be negative, I will write the review but only give it to the author, and give the author the option as to whether they want me to post that review or not. I will NOT change the review, but I will withhold posting it at the request of the author. I will usually rate the book without comment in that situation. I have found, however, that most authors have no problem with me posting my reviews, even the really negative ones, as I always try to a) provide constructive criticism and b) find *something* nice to say. :-) So there you have it - hope that helps!

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  7. I agree, Jimmy. You are very respectful on this. As a former book review blogger and now self-published author, I know both sides of the coin. It hurts to hear negative views of the things we've slaved over. And while I'm all for those that want to air their opinions publicly when they think something is not up to their standards I still think there is a respectful way to go about it. If we all take a professional approach, I'd be much happier. Constructive criticism is always the best approach if one wants to write a negative review, in my opinion.

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  8. Thanks so much for stopping by, everyone. It made my (long) day to see each of you drop by. I thank you also for all of the points that you made. I didn't mention it, but felt bad later in that particular day when I heard back from the author and felt guilt for not giving him something better. I was fair, but still felt bad about it.

    -Jimmy

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  9. I'm with you. If a book is a miss for me, I usually don't bother with a review. I'm not against negative reviews (as long as they are respectful)... I'm just not interested in writing one. *shrugs*

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  10. I have a hard time criticizing anyone who puts their art out there: writers, singers, artists. It takes time and guts, so I totally understand why you wouldn't want to leave a negative review.

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  11. I guess it comes down to what we learned as kids: If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all. It's what I stand by. Guess you do, too!

    No problem with that.

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  12. I don't do book reviews because one, I am terrible at them for some reason and two, if I didn't love the book, I'd feel bad expressing that.
    And speaking of books, I'm almost done reading yours, James!!! So fun to read a story of a blogger buddy. Do you base any characters on people you know or all purely fictional? So interesting to know behind the scenes!

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  13. @Jacquelyn - Somehow I feel as if I lose some credibility if I only give 5-star reviews, you know? Yet, I don't want any drama, either. What would Charlie Brown say? Oh, yeah. "I can't stand it!" ;)

    @Missed Periods - Thanks, Jenny. I love your visits!!

    @Stacy - That's exactly what I was thinking. Who died and elected me Roger Ebert, you know?

    @Kelly - As always, you rock! Well, my dad is retired KPD, so I grew up around police. It was so bad that I had to visit the new Police Department because I had the old building in my head. I can also disclose that the boy hanging out with the female dispatcher was true. It was me. I dated one for 8 months. *grins*

    *hugs* to all of my pals who have visited this week.

    -Jimmy

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  14. I agree - I don't do negative book reviews. To me, there's only a point doing it if you love it and want to help an author out. One person may hate a book, and many others love it, so spreading just the joy is a good idea.

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  15. Thanks, Alexia. I really appreciate you stopping by. Hopefully, there will be way more positive reviews and less times where I "pretend" to forget that I read something that I failed to review. :)
    I hope the week is treating you well.

    -Jimmy

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  16. I don't do a lot of book reviews. However, if I love a book, I will give it a great review. If I don't, I don't review it. I'm not picky about typos, unless there a bunch of them. I'm all for the story, and if it bores me, no review.

    Right or wrong, that's me. If you get a 5 star from me, it's because I loved the book.

    Blaze

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  17. Good to see you, Blaze. Thanks for stopping by. I was so petrified that I would miss a typo in my book. In the end, we found a couple of things. There might still be one in there. It's so hard to get over 100,000 words exactly correct... Right? Hello?
    ;)

    -Jimmy

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  18. Well said Jimmy. I feel the same. If I love a book, I let everyone know it. If I don't, I just let it go.

    ~Michelle

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  19. I still remember my mom's words: If you can't say something nice...

    Not that what you'd say wouldn't be nice, it's just not glowing, right? No harm in keeping that to yourself, in my opinion. You're a stand up guy, Jimmy, and VERY respectful. And VERY encouraging. Listen to your heart...

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  20. I've made a few negative reviews and rated things a 2 once or twice - and a 3 but I pointed out in most instances - it was due to preference. I am easily distracted and frustrated by "head hopping" viewpoints, while others aren't. I leave my opinion so anyone else who experiences the same sense of disruption will know and be warned. :p Recently it happened to me again and it had nothing to do with the writer or his actual prose. His word choice and writing style I enjoyed but I couldn't finish it because of my personal pet peeve. I'm with Adriana Noir on this as well. Not only can the writer use any kind of negative review to learn/grow - but the bottom line is - readers are one paying for these books and I'll admit, if I hadn't received the book in question free - I would've gone through the trouble to get a refund. There's another one I have to do that I paid for but it's a dinky 99cents so I'm not bothering with refunds but honestly - this book was frustrating and as I view the comments in Amazon, I'm not the only one. Most of us in the Indie community are adults here. Everyone's entitled to his/her opinion and that is what a review is. A subjective opinion.

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  21. It has been a while since I've left anything but a four or five star review. My philosophy is to use reviews as promotion for good fiction, but I'm afraid by my leaving out what fiction is only okay, or worse, my audience will think less of my 4s and 5s.

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  22. @Michelle - I just finished one that I can't wait to post about next Monday. It was more romantic than horror. Can you believe it? Stay tuned!

    @Julie - Thanks. See, you get me! I'd have too much guilt.

    @Miss Treadway - Thanks for stopping by. My door is always open. I will definitely think about what you said and see whether I might grow a backbone in the future. *laughs*

    @Tim - I think you are really on to something there. I also worry about that. It was great seeing you here, too, Tim. I hope life and the new year is treating you well.

    -Jimmy

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  23. I'm more than happy to discuss my thoughts on books (positive and negative) with people in private. But, online...I struggle to say anything negative. I even deleted my goodreads account because I gave 2 stars to a book and couldn't stop feeling bad about it. I know, I'm a wimp, but that's just me. I'd rather say nothing. That said, I think anyone who wants to give their opinion, should do so if they're comfortable with it.

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  24. Thanks for stopping by Michele. I'm not deleting my Goodreads Account, but I certainly did feel guilt when the author in question thanked me for taking the time to read his book. I felt like a very bad person indeed.
    *sigh*

    -Jimmy

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  25. Hey Jimmy,

    Tried to read all the comments here. Don't think I saw what I guess I would like as the author of that book (am I the author of that book? ha ha... ha?). I think I would want to hear from you directly, maybe in an email giving me your thoughts in as constructive of a manner as possible.

    But you have a good point in that I think you lose some credibility if you only post 4 or 5 star reviews.

    However, I also agree with Blaze. You aren't necessarily touting yourself as a "book blogger" or review site, so you have the ability/right to only promote books that you enjoyed.

    I'm actually in a similar position with a book I'm reading now. Just hoping it will pick up. Maybe it's by the same person (it is a small blogging world) and we can figure out how to go address this. Again, unless it's me you're talking about :)

    Paul D. Dail
    www.pauldail.com- A horror writer's not necessarily horrific blog

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Thanks for stopping by. I really appreciate you taking the time. I'll get back to you here or on one of the other social networks. It's not like we're not on all of them, right? ;) Also, if you're here to give me an award - bless you. However, your friendship and visits are more than enough. Thanks and blessings.