I have just finished reading an excellent historical novel that I shall be reviewing for the Historical Novel Society later this month. I've also just read one that I think shouldn't have been published. This made think about the reviews I've received for my books as well as the reviews I've written for other people.
I always review a novel honestly. I try and avoid doing any for friends and people I know just in case I can't give them a five-star, glowing report. If a book is excellent then I say so, if it's good then I say that, but also mention what, in my opinion, could have made it even better. With a poorly written book it's much more difficult.
I had a bad review and a five-star review for the same title on the same day. Reviewing is subjective and the comments should make that clear. What can be enjoyable to one person is another's worst read. One person may like the subject/style of writing another might not. That said - a badly written/edited book is just that.
As a writer I know how hard it is to finish a manuscript. If a publisher has put this book out, then they must have believed it was as good as it could be. I don't enjoy being negative about someone's efforts, but there would be no point in having reviews if the only ones that were ever written were positive.
However, I make sure my comments are never directed at the author but the book. I've never forgotten the critique I received when I was an unpublished writer which told me I was ridiculous. I can also honestly say that I've only received a very few downright bad reviews. I could quote what was said in all of them - and by whom. I've had many glowing accolades and 5* reviews and although they were all a delight to get, I don't remember what was actually written.
Which brings me back to whether anyone should ever write and publish a bad review knowing the potential damage it can do to an author's well-being. I'm not talking about self-published books -these are another thing entirely.
What do you think?
Would it be better if the bad reviews were not published? The writer would know the reviewer didn't like their book by the absence of a review.
Until next time