Very thought-provoking article from Novel Publicity here.
Although I don’t rate books using the star system, Chand explains her own personal system quite well. What caught my attention most were the books she rates as one-star… because she couldn’t finish them.
A couple of weeks ago, I started reading a self-published novel (and I have no intention of telling you the title or the author, since it would be unfair of me to publicly denigrate a book I – strictly speaking – haven’t actually read.)
I very, very rarely ever ditch a book – it’s sort of a principle with me. And from years of working closely with teenage writers, I’ve learned the art of finding things to genuinely praise, even if the book is overall a misfire.
This book? It was a doozy.
I’d initially picked it up because the title and premise sounded promising and the E-book itself was free, and I was planning on reviewing it here after finishing. But by chapter four, I had to face it: I hadn’t one positive thing to say about this book (except that the title and cover were, and are, still cool).
As well as being a reader, blogger, reviewer and wannabe editor, I’m an (unpublished) writer, too. I get it. I really do. If I found a review of my work that did nothing but detail how shit the reviewer thought it was, I’d cry for days. And possibly not write again for months.
Oh, yes. We writers should have thick skins. I should also have a million dollars, but let’s face it: if it were that easy, we’d all be millionaires and much better writers, revelling in the sharpest concrit imaginable.
Not. Going. To. Happen.
My dilemma of whether to give this book a negative review or none at all was made a little easier on me for two reasons: first, I’d chosen to read the book myself, and the author had no idea I’d even read their work, let alone thought so little of it. Secondly, the E-book was free.
Since I also review on request, it’s already occurred to me: What if someone asks me to review their book, and it’s a bad, bad, bad, bad book? And what if they’re charging people for the privilege of reading it?
My mother sometimes tells the story of seeing her neighbour’s newborn daughter for the first time – and physically recoiling before she could help herself. All babies are cute, she told me later, but that one was not beautiful.
If a writer trusts me with their hard work, and I can’t bring anything positive to the table, that’s what I’ll feel like. I’ll feel like I just told a proud new mother that her baby is ugly.
Luckily, I don’t think there’s much danger of that happening. I’ve read over 100 books in the past six months, and abandoned only one of them. I like those odds.