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Is it right to give a bad review?

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Is it right to give a bad review?

Post by stu1883 » Wed September 7th, 2011, 9:44 pm

I normally write a quick review on books I have bought from Amazon. Recently I bought a book (not HF) but it is absolutely terrible, an awful read. It isn't self published so the total lack of fluidity and coherence cannot be blamed on the author thinking they have done enough editing.

The story is supposed to be a political/intelligence agency thriller based in the UK but the writer flits between UK & American slang in his descriptions of items, places and objects. It has no depth, no real storyline and is just awful.

Now, the dilemma I have is that the author and his book has actually been published in paperback, something I one day hope to do, so is my criticism justified?

I really want to warn people that this book is not worth the money and that they will be really disappointed with it. Any thoughts on this peeps?

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Post by boswellbaxter » Wed September 7th, 2011, 10:51 pm

I'd say go ahead and write the review; just be sure to give specific examples of what you find fault with and why. When I shop at Amazon, I read both negative and positive reviews.
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Post by LoveHistory » Wed September 7th, 2011, 10:54 pm

Not a professional opionion here but...

You certainly have every right to express the fact that you didn't enjoy it. If the book really is that bad, then your criticism is justified. A review is an opinion. People can disregard it if they wish.

I don't think the fact that this particular book has been published in paperback should dissuade you. There are many books that are lousy, and a lot of them are in paperback. Honesty should not be a deterrent to a career. Don't query this guy's agent or editor though. You want to work with people who have higher standards of quality.

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Post by Brenna » Wed September 7th, 2011, 11:10 pm

I say go for it. I greatly appreciate both negative and positive reviews!

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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Wed September 7th, 2011, 11:43 pm

It all depends on whether you think reviews are for the reader, or for the writer. I happen to think they are for other readers. So do them a service, (at least those of your particular stamp) and warn them.

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Post by Misfit » Wed September 7th, 2011, 11:44 pm

Absolutely write a review and point out what your issues are. I tend to go to the critical reviews first for that very reason. Doesn't mean my opinions/taste will be the same as they have, but every little bit helps. Look at it another way, if you bought a crappy vacuum cleaner and reviewed it, would you be worried after the vac manufacturer's feelings at all?
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Post by Vanessa » Thu September 8th, 2011, 8:53 am

I would say what you think, but also try to find something positive about the book if possible even if it's just that the idea is there! Are there any other reviews for the book and are they all bad?
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Post by EC2 » Thu September 8th, 2011, 11:20 am

I would say that you are writing your personal opinion of a work and that is just what it should be. You're a kind, balanced person Stu and the reviews you write are exactly the kind that will be appreciated by other readers. You're not a sock puppet and you're not a person filled with bile who will diss everything. Readers are every bit as important as writers and you don't have to have written a book in order to make pertinent comments. Editors and agents don't write books (well a few do, but most don't), but they are avid readers. That's the only criteria you need. :)
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Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

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Post by wendy » Thu September 8th, 2011, 12:48 pm

Speaking as a writer, it is perfectly fine to give a poor review if your opinion is fair and objective. No book appeals to every single reader so negative reviews are part of the expected process.
It is not acceptable to give a mean review for your own subjective gains.
So if your future book happens to be on the same topic as the book you dislike, you might wish to examine your true motivation!

Why would any potential writer wish to trash an agent, publisher, copy editor, or publicist in public if they ever want to work in this profession? It does not make the reviewer look "smart" - it just signals that they are likely to be "trouble" - not a good message to send out to future colleagues.

On a persoanl note I believe in karma - "What goes around . . ." and all that. So if I don't like a particular writer's style, I just don't buy their books again. What purpose is served by trying to humiliate them? Their book will appeal to someone out there, even though I may not be the intended audience.

As a reader I take the overly-glowing and mean reviews with a huge pinch of salt. I like to make up my own mind about something as important as my books :)
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Post by sweetpotatoboy » Thu September 8th, 2011, 2:29 pm

Absolutely. As a potential reader of a book, I want to know how you, as another reader, responded to the book.
However, you should make clear it's your opinion, ie. Don't say the book is bad, fact. Say that you found it an unsatisfactory reading experience that didn't meet your expectations because of a, b, c. Compare it (unfavourably if necessary) to other similar works and explain why. That helps the potential reader measure their own reading tastes against yours.

If you feel really unhappy about writing an unfavourable review if there are no reviews at all yet, wait until the reviews have filled up a bit, possibly with some favourable ones, and then add your own.

My view is that if the only reviews you write are favourable ones, then you're not providing your fellow readers with the real benefit of your reading experiences.

I had a friend once who whatever I told him about my life etc. would say: that's fantastic, that's great. I soon learned not to value his opinion particularly. I know he had the best of intentions but his input wasn't much use to me!

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