Monday, September 3, 2012

Review Kharma

I love to read almost as much as I love to write. As an author I met at the Decatur Book Festival last weekend says about books: "They're the cheapest vacations you'll ever take." And it's rare that I come across a book - especially in my YA/Fantasy genre - that I don't like. The plots are usually addictive enough to pull me through any sluggish scene or awkward run of dialogue. But I've got one I struggled through for a few nights in a row, and then finally called it quits and put it up for a rainy day. It's not that it's not good, necessarily, but reading it felt like work, and I've already got three jobs and a toddler. I've got work in spades.

The thing is, I really wanted to like it. I loved the concept. The beginning was non-formulaic in a great way, but I never connected to the story. There was no one to root for early on, and I love to be a cheerleader. So here's my quandary: do I write a review about it?

Let me start by saying there's a difference between a negative review and a nastygram. One of my jobs is as a social media specialist for small businesses, and I see hundreds of examples of both types of reviews every day. There are customers that didn't get their way and so they're mad and they want the whole world to know exactly how mad they are, and then there are those not-so-favorable reviews that can actually be extremely useful - despite how painful they feel. These reviewers care about the business/product and about its well being. They noticed a problem, and they want the problem to be fixed because they believe in the overall mission of the business/product. These reviews and the customers who took the time to write them are priceless.

But then there's the other side of the coin: I really don't want to hurt the author's feelings. I know how hard it is to a) finish a manuscript b) get it accepted by a publisher, and c) be willing to bare your heart and soul and risk people tearing it to shreds. And, to be perfectly honest, I also really don't want to brass the author off either. I'd like to think I will be able to be so objective about the inevitable negative reviews that will come up once my book is released. Okay, lets get real. They're going to haunt me like a second piece of cake. But I also do want to know the truth. If I don't see my mistake, I'm just going to keep making it, and that's not good for me or potential readers. But I don't want to set myself up for a nastygram just because I wasn't the biggest fan of a book. So the questions remains: to review, or not to review? Opinions welcome...

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