Thursday, March 15, 2012

What Happens If I Hate It?

I’ve met a lot of great people on my writing journey. Some are lifelong friends, while others are simply random faces I’ve chatted with here and there---forever locked in that Google Friend Connect pose.

I’ve met writers at conferences and writing meetings. Blog hops. Coffee shops. Work. It seems there is a writer everywhere. Some of these writers have asked me to critique their work, while others just ask for me to buy their book when they publish.

The few who have allowed me to manhandle their work with my endless red scratches know I can be a bit brutal. I don’t intend to be mean, but I worry that if I don’t push for better or mark mistakes when I see them, I’m setting my friend up for a blow I should’ve eliminated in the first place. I’m down to one critique partner. She’s the only one left who can put up with me; she knows my intentions are good.

Have you ever read the negative reviews on Amazon? Holy cow! Some make my chest tighten, while others are right on. But being right about something and saying it tactfully doesn’t help the writer desperate for praise. We hate to hear we suck, especially at the no take back stage. Clicking that publish button makes it a done deal and it seems with the ease of self-publishing, too many people are clicking before they are ready.

So, I have a dilemma. Many of my friends and acquaintances are publishing, some traditional, some self-published. I get more “buy my book” tweets filling my home page every day. We need to support each other, but when asked what I think do I tell them the truth?

I’m not the type of person to just give a five star review just ‘cause we’re blogging pals, but how do you politely say no?

Has this ever happened to you? 


Rosemary Gemmell said...

Be honest and constructive with any criticism. But praise where it's due - well that's the theory anyway! That's why I don't ask for reviews/comments - but I don't mind receiving them.

And when I judge a short story comp, I always begin with the positives and hopefully offer constructive advice if needed - not negativity.

Jamie Dement (LadyJai) said...

I agree with Rosemary. I try to live by the saying "Be honest and constructive with any criticism. But praise where it's due". Some authors bring on the negativity themselves.
I wish, I WISH, the self-pubbers/indie authors would get honest feedback like this for their books BEFORE they publish. Take it to heart, revise their work based on those critiques and then publish the best thing they can! not just because they can! But most of the people who publish "not-yet-ready" material, don't--or can't--take that criticism.

All my reviews/opinions of the books I've read have been openly honest. I hope that what I have to say will meet the author and they take it as a chance to better their writing. Unfortunately, the indie/self-pubbers, I've reviewed have not. I am very reluctant to read any more, now.

Leigh Caroline said...

It's hard, sometimes, especially when you write as well, to be completely honest when you read something that doesn't work for you, because you know how much it can hurt. Years ago, I learned to sandwich my reviews/crits. Say something nice, say something critical, say something else nice. Sometimes the critical gets long, but I try to make sure there's at least two positive things I can say at the start and end. If I can't find at least 2 nice things to say about it, I tell them flat out, "This doesn't work for me. Are you sure you still want my input?" A lot of times, they say no. I'm impressed at the ones who say yes anyway. That takes strength.

Diana said...

Great comments. I had a review blog for a while, but it just wasn't worth the effort for all the stuff that was coming in. Unpolished and I couldn't put my name on it. It was easy saying no then because I didn't know them, but those I've developed relationships with is harder. I won't give a review for the sake of a review though, I guess we'll see.

Tracy said...

Well, everyone responds to criticism differently and if a writer is asking well, then they need to be ready for the response; good, bad or indifferent. I would want someone to tell me where my writing needed work; that's what makes us better. But in the end, ultimately it is their decision. You need to follow your heart and your gut.

Heather said...

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