Bad reviews – should I speak or forever hold my peace?

by limebirdsally

As someone who would really like this world to be as lovely as a Belle & Sebastian, Stuart-Sarah-Stevie three-part harmony, I have a dilemma.

I recently purchased a book published by an indie-author who is an online ‘acquaintance’ of mine (not through limebirds by the way in case anyone’s feeling paranoid!) I’m 20% of the way into their book, and I’ve already dipped out and read three other books since I started it as I’m really struggling to engage with it. The writing’s good; the characters are…fine; and the plot is…okay, to be honest I’m a bit bored!

I’ve recently got into the habit of posting reviews of books I read on Goodreads and Amazon both to serve as a reminder of what I thought of them in future and because I think it’s important to support authors.

I’m much happier giving a positive review than a bad one, but I don’t mind being lacklustre when it’s a well-established writer who is unlikely to know or care about what little old me has to say about their book. But I really struggle with indies or writers who don’t have many reviews yet where I feel I should be more generous and I suspect they will read and care about what I’ve written.

I rarely give up on a book, so I will push through to the end at some stage. So here’s the problem. I know if I write a review about this book, the author will both see it and be able to put a face to the name. I would never be rude or criticise, but I would need to be honest in the number of stars that I assign and the reasons why I didn’t engage with it.

What it boils down to is I don’t want to hurt the author’s feelings, which is a real possibility if this book doesn’t pick up soon!

So I wondered what you lovely limebird people thought? Please leave your thoughts in the poll below.

I can’t promise to follow the consensus as I’m really leaning towards the no, but it would be useful to know if anyone else ever feels that rush of guilt when they give a negative review or if I need to toughen up!

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77 Responses to “Bad reviews – should I speak or forever hold my peace?”

  1. Honesty is best, explain that you don’t want to offend but how can the writer learn and grow without honesty – agents and publishers would be brutal at least you can come from a place of just wanting to help a friend improve, someone else may not be able to do it in a supportive way and may write a brutal, offensive review, rather the write here it in a polite way than from someone else!

    • Hi there, thanks very much for your comment. It’s true that some people are horrifically brutal in their reviews as if they have no consideration that the writer is a human being who has invested an awful lot of time and emotion into their novel. But like you say, an indie won’t have had an agent or publisher (or necessarily even efitorial feedback) so how can they improve if reviews ive too much leeway. Hmm

  2. I’ve voted not to say owt if it’s not positive, but I heard somewhere that a dodgy review doesn’t always have the catastrophic effect on sales that you’d think. I’m not sure if that’s true, though! Maybe write a review concentrating on the plus points but recommend some improvements – but nicely?

    • Hi Cath. I would hate for my review to be the thing that puts someone off reading a book as it does just come down to my opinion (I’d be a terrible reviewer, wouldn’t I!). Thanks for adding your vote to the mix.

      (Oo, impressive list of creds on your blog – congratulations!).

  3. Ohh great post. OK, so I voted for ‘No’, because that’s what I would do. However, this is a tricky one, because if it was my book, I would quite like to know if someone found my book hard to read. But then again, what’s one person’s cup of tea is another’s … erm.. not cup of tea? Tough one.

    • Thanks for voting Beth. Outwardly I’m very much a – my cup of tea is your cup of coffee (although to be contrary I like both tea and coffee depending on mood, sometimes with sugar, sometimes without etc.) however, deep down I know my view is right 😉

  4. The truth hurts, but I find that it hurts less than being told everything you did was great and later finding out that everyone was lying to you.

    I would tell the truth, but as kindly as possible and try to keep my tone neutral.

    • Hi there. Very true – I’d much rather someone told me the truth rather than say something to my face only to go and say something else behind my back…eek, I’d hate it if someone had read my book and wrote a post like this about it asking people to vote on whether they told me the truth about it!

  5. If you don’t leave a review, people won’t know what to think of the book. If you are kind, you have nothing to worry about. You are helping the author to recognise their pitfalls, and helping other readers to know if the book is for them or not.

    • Hi, thank you very much for adding your comments to the mix. Very true and maybe it’s not even that they’re necessarily pitfalls, but just something I don’t like in a book that another reader would. Actually I do tend to read the comments when a book has low star ratings to see if I think it’s fair and dismiss accordingly (for example I recently saw someone give an adult fairytale book one star because it had swearing in it and wasn’t suitable for children!).

  6. I think I’d say nothing. Now it’s published, it’s too late for her to change anything, and hurting her feelings feels won’t help her, nor make the book better.

    However, if you’re asked to critique something that hasn’t reached the shelves yet, then I’m all for honesty. We all need to learn – that’s the time to tell someone their book was hard to read.

    • Hi Jo. I checked out your blog after you left a comment on a recent post and I am so impressed – one day I hope to be as cool a grandma as you are!

      Yes, I think I’m with you here in terms of it already being published so it won’t change it and a review isn’t really the best forum for constructive criticism for future work. Thank you for commenting.

  7. I probably wouldn’t post the review, but I agree that if you don’t tell the author they won’t know and can’t get better. If I were the author, I would want the reader to send a private email, but not everyone else feels the same way about receiving feedback. No one wants to receive a bad review, but some people do appreciate honest feedback.

    I guess it depends on how well you know the person online. Do you think this is a person that would want feedback even if it’s not all positive? If you’re not sure, I wouldn’t give any feedback unless the author asks for it.

    • Very wise words, thank you for commenting. Personally I would definitely want someone to email me but not really comments about a book that’s already been published I can’t be changed (e.g. ‘you should have done this with the plot’), but rather constructive comments I can apply to future writing. But you’re right, unless I know they feel the same way or have asked for them, it could really be stepping on someone’s toes to just assume.

      I just read your knotty story on your blog – I thought it was great! I’m so impressed by someone who can write a story that good in 100 words!

  8. I agree with you buddhafulkat, a private email would be the thing if possible, and it depends on how well you know the person online.

  9. The problem with many reviews is that they’re utterly subjective — “I loved it! I hated it!” — and not in any way a thoughtful critique. If this book bored you, can you very specifically tell the author what didn’t work for you? (characters? dialogue? pacing?) I’ve published two NF books commercially and have gotten 65 amazon reviews in less than a year. Clearly, a lot of people (why?) feel some compulsion to express their opinions. The “bad” reviews are so vicious they would leave you stunned, many of them personal attacks on me, not the writing in..you know, the book. Tedious, silly and utterly useless. They may have made the writer feel so much better, but what did it teach me about how to approach my next book? Nothing.

    So, sure, feel free to leave a “negative” review but be very clear what did work and what did not. It’s not a matter of being “nice” or “honest” (these are uselessly emotional approaches) but critically helpful.

    • Hi, thank you very much for your comments. This is a very good point. I do sometimes look at reviews before I decide whether to purchase a book if it hasn’t come recommended by someone, and it’s frustrating when someone writes something critical (or glowing) as an emotional reaction without substantiating it. I do think that nice (or kind) and honest are valid responses, but like you say, a review being published in a public forum should also be critically helpful.

      Sometimes scathing reviews can be a motivator to buy a book though particularly when they tell you more about the person writing the review than the book being reviewed!

  10. This is such a delicate line to toe. It’s important to know where a story succeeds and where it fails. I don’t think leaving constructive feedback is ever a bad thing. Most authors will go, think about it, and use it for the better. With the exception of the spectacular implosion (http://booksandpals.blogspot.com/2011/03/greek-seaman-jacqueline-howett.html) that happened on ‘BigAl’s Books and Pals’ Review site. This particular author had an unfortunate public melt down (she sent the book to the site for review).

    Being respectful to the time and effort is what is key in feedback. I’d rather know what is not ‘clicking’ with my readers.

    • Oo, that’s interesting. I’m not sure if this was the author mentioned on twitter a few weeks ago, or someone else, who prompted a bit of a debate on whether authors should respond to reviews (the general consensus appeared to be no!). Vocational reviewers are literary artists with their own POV just as much as novellists.

      I guess it is that difference between something you’re working on where critique will help guide and develop it and something you have published and really believe in. So if you’re writing a review on a published book are you trying to help the writer understand their readers; or simply trying to warn people away. It’s the latter that I really don’t want to do because I don’t think it’s my place – as you say so much time and effort goes into writing a book. Thank you so much for adding your thoughts to the debate!

  11. I’m in the camp with buddhafulkat and neeks. A private email might be best if you know the author. Like others have said, I’d like to know what the problems were so I could fix them in the next books. Of course, your post also points to the importance of having objective beta readers go over manuscripts before they see the light of day.

    No book will appeal to everyone. I couldn’t get through “The DaVinci Code” or “The Time Traveler’s Wife.” But hey—that didn’t stop them from becoming runaway best sellers. Maybe that’s the position you’re in with this book. You could take the “wait and see” approach before you do anything. What are other people posting for reviews? If many are good, maybe the book’s just not your cup of tea. But if many are bad, well, then maybe you’d be happy to hold your peace and let others do the critiquing on this one.

  12. I will post a review if I can give a book at least three stars and recommend it for its value to others, even though it might not be to my taste. If you can emphasize the virtues of the book (without falsifying or exaggerating), you do a service to readers, and to the author. When you publish a book, it’s out of your hands. If you can’t deal with honest reviews, even from friends, then don’t publish.

    • Hi, thank you for adding your thoughts. Three stars does seem like a nice benchmark because something lower is basically a bad review. It’s true that if you publish you have to be prepared to accept bad reviews – unfortunately there are people out there who use annonymity to be particularly vicious!

  13. I voted ‘no’ because I don’t like hurting anyone’s feelings! But I love jmmcdowell’s answer and I do believe this is your best bet. I’m all for honesty and truthful reviews; feedback is so important. But, considering this is someone you ‘know’ I think this is a better way to get this review accomplished, and feel good about how you handled the situation. Good luck!

    • Hi Jeannie, I think I’m like you and I also really like jmmcdowell’s answer (and also buddhafulkat and Neeks above), as this feels like a good way of being honest without being hurtful or giving negative feedback in public.

      I love the mantra on your blog, did you write that? – “Use what talent you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best.”

  14. Hi – how about this? You give him/her the comments direct so that they can take them on board (or not), but don’t publish. If they write another dull book, THEN you publish. Having said that, if they read this blog, the cat’s probably out of the bag!

    Ask them to look up their favourite author on Amazon. Chances are that someone didn’t see what they saw and has written a scathing opinion. Terrible or lack-lustre reviews are an occupational hazard of writing.

    There was a story a few years back about (Sir) Michael Caine writing a novel. The editor had to point out to him that one of his key characters died twice; once in the middle and once at the end, and that subsequently the plot made no sense. Tough love.

    Is it an e-book? If so they could more easily re-submit with changes.

    • Hey Martin, welcome to limebirds and thank you for commenting! Yes, I agree with the don’t publish view. I few other people have suggested maybe a personal email is more appropriate, so I need to work out if it’s appropriate for me to do that!

      Hmm, a key character dying twice in a novel – that could be turned into a very interesting plot twist…

  15. If this were just a random author, I’d say you should definitely post a review. (Honest but kind, of course, like any other review you’d post.) But actually knowing the author makes it way harder, even if it’s just an online relationship. If you want to post a review, I’d suggest being extremely gentle, like: “The writing is lovely, and the characters are all genuine. It’s not a very plot-heavy book so it might not work for readers who want something more action-oriented.” That way it doesn’t seem like you’re attacking the book/writer itself, but you’re not being dishonest. But if that feels disingenuous, I’d steer clear of posting online reviews for this one.

    • Hey Annie. It’s a really nice idea, although this actually reminds me of a notion that came up in a line management course I attended a couple of years ago – the s*** sandwich! Basically it’s when you need to raise an issue with someone you manage – for example the report they submitted isn’t acceptable but to soften the blow you hide it in-between a couple of compliments e.g. “I really think you have a way with PowerPoint, these slides look great – this report is innaccurate and badly written, I can’t believe you think this is in a fit state for sign-off – your hair looks lovely today, have you had it cut?”

      I completely agree that there a nice and constructive ways of phrasing arguably negative comments though! Thank you for adding your comments.

      • Haha, yes! That’s totally it. I think that’s a good way to approach any kind of workshop or peer review. Unless the work is so far off that there’s no redeeming quality, it’s good to bookend with positives.

  16. If a writer only wants praise, they should only let their parents or best friends read what they write. Write honest reviews.

  17. There is nothing “uselessly emotional” about honesty. Without it, it’s impossible to express “what did work and what did not”.

    Writers should keep in mind that they can’t control other people’s reactions, and develop an objective approach to their own work before they demand that others do so.

    • Oh but it’s so hard to be objective about your own work isn’t it! Although that is what other people’s views are for, to help you see beyond your own subjectivity.

  18. If I were the author, I would want to know. I feel like I would probably be disappointed but that it would help me put out better work. In reality, it’s not what the writer thinks that counts, it’s about what the readers think. If it doesn’t interest the reader, it’s almost a waste to have gone through all that work and written it in the first place. Not perfecting the work is a huge waste. If the writer can’t take a small, direct amount of critique, they probably shouldn’t expect very much from the reading community.

    • Hi there, thank you for adding your comments. It is difficult because this book is targeted towards someone like me therefore my view as ‘the reader’ is valid, but I would hate to think that my comments might put someone off who would have a much more positive reaction to it. Like you say though, if you put yourself out there you need to be tough!

  19. I’m with those who suggest a more private response with constructive criticism, including telling the author what worked. Otherwise, the author will be limited in their ability to grow and produce better work. Also, every author has to understand that their work will not be universally loved, that bad reviews will happen.

    I was in a forum once (not limebird, a different writing forum) and someone posted as part of their thread that they were afraid of any criticism of their work and I very much wanted to post a comment back telling them kindly to get out of the writing game if they didn’t think they could get over that. I didn’t post that because it didn’t seem either constructive or helpful, but you can’t publish and be afraid of criticism. Realistically, criticism should have come before you got to publication anyway. A thicker skin is kind of a requirement in the writing game, though I do think that reviews should not be simply “I love/hated it” nor should they ever be personal attacks. No one should be subjected to those.

    • Hi Julie, I completely agree. I like the idea of a private response (although I’m not sure I will do it, I need to really think about that!) but also aside from my dilemma if you publish a book you have to be prepared to take criticism.

      I wonder if this is more about me not wanting to be disliked than the writer being hurt – but then I’m not a vocational book reviewer!

  20. I didn’t vote yes or no, because I believe there is a more moderate position you might take. Why not praise liberally what is good about the book, and un-praise (I can’t think of the word — I think “criticize” may be too harsh here,) very gently that which is not good, while still being honest. There must be things about this book that deserve praise, even if they are things like vocabulary, or publishing, or editing. Say exactly what you feel, and don’t compromise, but moderate carefully the way you say it. Or tell me I’m full of crap and follow your first instincts. But I have learned that people usually want to hear the truth, if it’s said with love.

    • Hi Judith, thank you for adding your thoughts. Actually yes, I personally probably would be happy with a review if they made negative comments provided they didn’t just ignore the things they thought were good about it, particularly if it gave me good solid feedback I can learn from.

  21. I loved this blog post! Just this past week, I posted a blog post about this topic. I’m like you, and like to be nice, but when the book is just not good — not at all, I think it’s okay to be honest, because it might help out the writer.

    Here’s my blog post: http://chicklitgoddess.com/2012/01/18/writing-good-book-reviews-vs-writing-bad-book-reviews/

    • Hi Isabella, thank you for commenting. I just read your post (love your friendly response to the most recent comment!) and the review itself.

      I think this is a particular style of review where in addition to giving your honest view on a book, you’re expressing your own personality and in a sense, creating a piece of literature in itself. I would never have the guts to do something like this, even if I thought a book was terrible, but I’m not a book reviewer. So yes, it may offend someone, but good for you for being able to say in public what others might only think to themselves!

  22. Books I seek out on my own, I don’t post bad reviews for because what doesn’t resonate with me might with someone else. If I’m solicited then, absolutely I’ll post a poor review if its my honest take.

  23. Hi Sally, I voted No because I think it’s what I would do in the same situation. Though I do agree with everyone who has said that perhaps being honest with the author privately would be a better way to go. Just for the sake of friendship I wouldn’t say anything negative publicaly, you’re never the only person in the world to think something, so chances are that another reviewer will have the exact same problems that you are anyway.

    I agree with Daniel that you shouldn’t expect nothing but positive comments, but it’s one thing to help out by giving some advice for the next project and a little bit different to put it out there where everyone can see it. If you didn’t know them then I’d say just be honest, but I’d play it safe with someone you know, just to be sure that it isn’t taken the wrong way!

    • Hi Ster – that’s very true. The first time I ever wrote a review for a book was when it was so appallingly bad that it actually made me angry – I bashed out a brutally honest review on Amazon, hit publish…then ten minutes later went back and deleted it because I felt bad and didn’t want to hurt the author. I then looked through the fifty or so other reviews and saw that 90% of people had said pretty much the same thing, often in much harsher terms and I realised it really didn’t need me to add to the abuse!

  24. If it was a friend, I might tell them in an email my thoughts – to help them in the future, but I think I’d be too nervous to put anything like that out in the public for the world to read.

  25. On Amazon, anything under a 4 star review affects the number of views the book will receive, in that Amazon takes them out of the “others like this” and the “you may also like” lists. Tell your friend the truth in person, nor as a review.

  26. My first time to join this site for a chat. If I was you, facing this dilemma, I would try to think about how you would feel if it was your book being reviewed. For me, I would want the truth. In saying that, regardless of how you judge the book, it is only an opinion, and as I find in life, there will be others who probably will absolutely love the book. Even a landslide election win usually doesn’t have 50% on their team. Writing is about taking small steps, and then big risks when you decide to share it, and getting used to the fact that those risks are worth the negative comments, as well as the positive ones, and also help you improve or at least reconsider your own work. A star rating at any level also means someone has purchased and read the book…

    • Hi Kate, welcome to the site and thank you for commenting. I think personally I would appreciate a lower star review provided it came with comments explaining why so I understood where they were coming from, although I’d be annoyed if it was someone outside of the clearly identified target market who hasn’t appreciated that the book isn’t for them as a bad review can have a strong impact.

      Hope to see you back at limebirds for future discussions!

  27. This is a toughy.

    Is the book an ebook? If it was, perhaps you can contact the author privately and discuss. It is my understanding that the ebook medium allows for editing, even after a book has been uploaded to a online bookstore. I may be wrong there, but I seem to recall reading somewhere about a reader/reviewer pointing out some errors in an ebook, which the author promptly corrected. Correct a couple of typos vs changing a whole book is of course non-comparable, but maybe they could temporarily remove the book?

    If it is in print, I think your response depends on how well you know the author. Maybe others aren’t leaving reviews for the same reason and the author is mystified as to why.

    I didn’t vote above, because if I was the author I’d appreciate some constructive feedback, but privately. My vote would be for a kind but honest private ‘review.’

    • Hi there, thank you for commenting and the sensible third option. In terms of typos or grammar slips, I don’t have anything to fault – it’s more that for a range of reasons I’m just not engaging with it so as you say I need to decide if I’m going to explain why to the author!

  28. Hi Sally! I’m coming into the discussion late; you’ve had some wonderful and helpful responses!

    Here are my 2 cents:

    I vote for yes. I used to think that reviews were extremely important and beneficial because they were written by people in the know or at least were well-respected. I think about Oprah and her book club and how quickly those books flew out the bookstore windows all because of Oprah’s seal of approval.

    I don’t think that the majority of reviews for e-published books are done by people who are in the profession of editing, publishing, journalism, etc. In general, I think they are made by average, everyday readers who, let’s face it, have probably never learned how to properly write an objective, professional review. And that’s the key.

    Broadsideblog mentioned this also: An objective review that talks about what works and what doesn’t work and why, is the kind of review that will help everyone and isn’t mean and unfair to the author.

    You said that the writing is good and the characters are fine, too. So, I’d suggest to build on those aspects to kick off your review. Those are positive points that are just as deserving to be mentioned and the author will get a lot of benefit out of that. Then discuss the plot that you’re finding to be stale and dull–but make sure you give solid reasons that will back up your thoughts. Otherwise, it’ll come off as an opinion, and like many commenters before me said, just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean the next reader won’t like it.

    The other piece to this is simply if you know this author well enough, he/she is going to wonder if you ever read the book and what you thought. I don’t know that you want to lie about it because you might be faced with reading the author’s second book! 😉

    Good luck. Will you let us know what you decide?

    • Hi Kate – thank you so much for these well-considered comments.

      I do know what you mean about reviewers, but at the same time I see where they’re coming from. You could argue that until you’ve got an agent or had a book published you’re not a ‘proper writer’ but I don’t think anyone would argue that – similarly there are people who post reviews on their blogs who feel passionately about what they do so just because they’re not a ‘professional reviewer’ doesn’t mean this isn’t something they love doing and have a valid opinion on – after all they’re just taking the promotional material for a book, deciding they’re the target audience for it, and offering their own response. True, many will inject their own personality and sass into the review, which can sometimes make it seem like a personal attack, but I can’t help thinking that they have the same right to do that as a person has to independently publish a book. But I completely agree with your essential point that it’s the reviewers who don’t offer considered reasons for their opinions, be them positive or negative that really miss the point of what a review should be.

      I also completely agree with offering both positives and negatives as it’s easy to overlook the positive points when there are strong negatives.

  29. I would sort of pick in-between, as I’ve been in this exact same scenario! I would let them know privately all of the positive things I thought of the book and their writing, but that it wasn’t my cup of tea, I woudl explain that I didn’t want to leave either a misleading public review ( saying I loved it), or a brutally honest one that didn’t help to support them as an author. Am I chicken? Yes. But I would rather help an indie acquaintance by giving them my thoughts privately, at which point they could tell me to take a flying leap, or use it to improve on future books.

  30. I would be honest, but positive. Start with what you like (the writing) and give some examples. Then you can give some of the bitter to go with the sweet, where, perhaps, the characters could be fleshed out more etc.

    • Hi Dennis, thank you for this idea. It is really easy to overlook the positive attributes when the overall feeling is lacklustre, so it’s really good advice to make sure I do think about the positive elements.

      (And again, thank you so much for looking at my opening chapter on the limebird forums. I’d be happy to repay the favour if there’s anything you’d like a fresh perspective on).

  31. To everybody who has voted and/or commented thank you so much, this has really helped me out.

    As a social research director I’d have to give you so many caveats on the interpretation of these data it would send you to sleep, but at the time of writing opinion appears to lean towards offering feedback.

    However, you’ve helped me see that this isn’t as black and white as publish a review or don’t publish a review and I really like the alternative mentioned by a lot of you, which is to privately offer feedback directly to the author. I feel a lot more comfortable with this option as it both avoids my fear that it isn’t my place to put off other potential readers, and it strikes me as a being a mature and decent thing to do.

    A lot of you also gave the very important advice that I should make sure I don’t just overlook the positive aspects of the book and give a balanced critique that discusses both positives and negatives in a constructive manner.

    Thank you again. There’s a lot of great advice in your comments that I can apply to all my future reviews, whether it’s an author I know or not.

    It’s goes against my Englishness to use a phrase like this but hey why not – you guys rock!

  32. Everybody leaves me “nice” reviews and cutesy things like, “was nice. please write more,” but nothing is left of critique. yes, after all is said and done and I hit publish there is nothing I can do to change it, but it does help for future writings, especially since I am a new writer. I ask people to give me honest critique and opinions and assuch I have recieved a few: more character development, too wordy, not enough detail, climax comes too late and stuff like that. Much of that I have carried with me into my second book; it’s a learning tool … and I hate critique which is why i waited 38 yrs to publish. But as a writer you have to take the good with the bad. If you thought my book was too slow I would want to know so I could pick up the pace in the next book. Just reading your blog makes me think that if you gave negative feedback it wouldn’t be harsh, sounds to me like you have a good, kind soul and would leave your thoughts but with ways to improve. But, everybody has a different opinion too. I hate military books, my kids love them. I really dislike vampire books, but my step-daughter thinks they are great. A review is an opinion just like movie reviews. I have loved a stupid movie that received horrible reviews (Super Troopers) and hated a movie with great reviews (Inception). It’s all an opinion.

    • Yes it’s difficult to get a proper critique – I recently got a critique partner precisely to get more substantial feedback than “was nice. please write more,” because that’s as much as I can really hope for from friends and family. I’ve even paid for editorial feedback in the past and did get the constructive feedback on the plot development, characters etc. but also comments like, “you clearly write well for this audience,” which were fine, and all very nice, but what they wouldn’t tell me is, is it good ‘enough.’ These were industry professionals and I didn’t know if they were sitting there thinking, just another wannabe writer, or if they genuinely thought it was worth all the time and effort of redrafting! I suspect that a lot of indie writers have those doubts!

      • I’ll supply the towels…. A Can I weep on your shoulder too?? Yeah — “well written…. You write from experience – very well done…” Well why the *&% didn’t it sell? Worse yet (as some of the best came from agents, Why the )*^*&^ couldn’t you sell it??

    • I hated critique as well when I first started. It is the whole rejection thing and we just want to tell our stories. How to get past rejection??? I found out.
      Sell Life Insurance and cold call. WOW. after a 99.9999999992% rejection rate — selling writing has been a breeze.
      Ideally if my story is too slow (read faster!!) why? What makes it slow. Yes it is their opinion but at least it’s not MY opinion and that makes a huge difference.
      Best of luck to you and keep pen to paper!!!

  33. Not going to say “I live for negative reviews,” but, they help. There is a huge difference between a bad review and cruel review. When WolfPointe came out, I was subject to all kinds of comments. Positive (made my day!!!) and negative (Haunted my night!!!). But I did receive one, what I class as, cruel review. Particularly bad because there were lies and unfounded commentary. Still, I got through it. I confess I have read it only a few times. All of us in writing know rejection.
    My advice is write a review that is similar to your words in your blog. You like the storyline, you like the characters etc. You are troubled though — you are a bit bored, perhaps you can cite some places where the action needs to act more, or the description needs to be exposed not be spoken of…. Those kind of critiques are not Bad — they are supportive.

    • Bad reviews are just frustrating – I’ve had a couple of 1 stars on one of my indie tween books with no comments, which is almost worse than them giving a lengthy explanation that rips the book to shreds because I have no idea why they didn’t like it (I say almost because I imagine that could send me into ‘haunted my night’ territory too!). But yes I definitely see your differentiation from cruel reviews, and it’s startling how many writers have experience of them. I’m so glad you can rise above it.

      Thanks for the advice. It’s easy to just say, “it was boring,” but I have a moral obligation to think about what makes it boring!

  34. I was once asked to comment on someone’s poetry. I really didn’t think it was very good, but I felt very constrained about saying so. This was for two reasons. 1/ I recognise my limitations as a judge of what might be good or bad poetry and 2/ the poet in question obviously took her poetry very seriously and would have been hurt if I’d been too critical. I copped out and confined myself to one or two technical observations about metre and rhythm and added some face saving platitude abou supposing that this was probably the effect she had been going for anyway.
    Fortunately the lady in question had a fairly robust ego and she was quite happy to tell me I was talking ‘nonesense’ (she used slightly more graphic term), so there was no real harm done. Except that she continued to believe that she had a real gift for writing poetry when maybe her creative energies might have been better directed elsewhere.
    On a more personal note, I’d love to say that I’m grown up enough to value constructive criticism, but I’m more likely to sulk for a bit and then make excuses for a while before I finally get around to admitting that maye I need to make a few changes to something I’ve written.
    Having said that, I think that the feeling of sending your work off into a complete vaccuum and getting no response at all is probably worse than anything else. Well, it feels that way at the moment. I may change my opinion if I get a really hostile review.

    • Oh I’d be terrible at poetry critique – I’ve never really gone for it. Sounds like a complete nightmare! Have you just indie published something then? I agree – I’d rather get negative reviews than no reviews…I think. Obviously good reviews are better.

      • Guilty as charged.
        Yes, I’ve self published two books on Amazon Kindle Direct and so far the silence has been pretty deafening.
        If you’re interested I can send you further details, but this isn’t really the place to indulge in a spot of self promotion.
        Incidently the person whose poetry I was struggling with later went into a bit of a melt down (sending poison pen Chrsitmas cards etc), which wasn’t fun to witness, but it did provide material for a short story. To this day I’m not sure if this was an act of cynical exploitation on my part, or just a way of dealing with the experience.

      • Sorry Fekesh, I’ve only just seen you replied to this comment. I’ve just checked out your author page on amazon and seeing as I love Glasgow and interesting takes on vampire fiction (and because you didn’t try to push it on me!) I’m going to give The Familiar a go!

        I’m honest in reviews so if I like it I’ll leave a review that reflects that, if it would be a three star or lower I won’t publish anything. Does that sound okay?

      • It sounds perfect. I had it on offer for free for while in the hope that someone would read it and like it enough to leave a review. I think that’s probably the key to getting people interested. (Just as long as I don’t leave rave reviews myself).
        If you really don’t like it and you don’t want to leave a review, then please contact me directly. I won’t say I enjoy constructive criticism, but it’s the only way to improve.
        Anyway, I hope you enjoy it. I’m currently working on a third installment. (And it’s probably high time I started thinking about stories that don’t involve vampires).
        Thank you for your interest.

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