I read a lot of books, and try to give honest reviews. Sometimes I'm really
disappointed in a book and then I just don't review it at all. How do authors -
and I know not all would react the same - want readers to handle comments when
the negative feeling about a book outweighs the positive? Do you want to hear
things like how I feel that the story doesn't really flow, or that the
characters felt flat and maybe even the typos were distracting? I don't want to
say anything in a mean way - and the worst writer still has more writing ability
than I'll ever have - but is it helpful to say anything critical when the book
is already done and it's too late to make changes? Is it better to leave a
lukewarm review than no review at all?
I feel a little like I'm answering this question on behalf of all my author friends, so I want to give a really good answer. I've thought about this question a number of times during my career and to answer your questions honestly - it depends. Okay, let me explain. First thing I'd like to say is that not every book is for everyone, so there will be people who love a work and those who don't care for it. If you love a book, please tell others. If a story isn't to your taste, but it was still well written and professionally produced, then, as a reader as well, I generally set the book aside and go on to another. No harm, no foul.
However if a book is bad, poor characterization, poor editing with lots of typos, a story line that's convoluted and uninteresting, then in my opinion, as an author, I would much rather get a personal email than anything else. In this case, if you have real solid opinions about what's wrong with the book, opening a direct dialog with the author is the easiest way to get your point across and it may generate a discussion that will help the author improve their work. As a reader you will also get the chance to have input into the creative process.
Good reviews help the author sell the book. Sometimes a bad review will have the same effect. However I would like to stress that good or bad, once something is out on the internet, its hard to take it back. It can sometimes take on a life of its own and have consequences beyond what you intended. I know I went on a little, but in summary, I love good reviews and sometimes bad ones are like a stab in the heart. I have one other word of advice. I think Disney said it best in Bambi -- if you can't say something good, don't say nothing at all-- At least in public. There have been books I haven't enjoyed and books I've loved. The ones I've loved I've told others about, the others I simply kept quiet and moved on.
Susan - I really hope I answered your question. There will be many opinions by many people and this is mine.
Ask Andrew is your chance to ask questions of a gay romance author. The questions can be about the writing process in general, writing sex scenes, gay men, sex, characters in romance, characters having sex... okay you probably get the picture. I promise to answer your questions as frankly and with as much humor as I possibly can.
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