I have been blessed with fantastic writer friends. Yes, I am one of the lucky ones that can say that.
In the past several months, in an effort to make more time for reading, I’ve been challenging myself to a book a month—a challenge that I’ve been able to keep. Yay!
So far my reading list has been full of excellent novels and I’ve loved every one of them. In loving them, however, I’ve often wondered what would I do if I didn’t love a novel?
More importantly, what would I do if I didn’t love a friends novel?
Would I lie to them and to the readers of the world by leaving a stellar review? Or would I be honest with my feelings, telling them and the readers by leaving the number of stars I really think the book is worth?
As authors we all know how it feels to hear that someone didn’t care for our work. Strangers can break our hearts in a second, leaving us to wonder why we even bother to write in the first place.
But what if that “stranger” was a friend? Would it ruin the friendship or would it hurt for awhile, but in the end help the author?
We all know that constructive bad reviews can actually help. If we have bad habits in our writing, having someone call them out could be the lightbulb to bring us out of our own funk, helping us not to make the same mistake twice. Of course, at the time, through the bitter sting of the harsh words we don’t think about that. We’re too focused on the pain of a bad review. But when the dust settles, it could be what propels our next novel to the next level.
But from a friend? Would we be in too much pain to look past the hurt?
More importantly, can I even be honest with someone I know so well? Can I really send them a message, writing the words that I know will, for however long, hurt them?
And it’s with that thought in mind, there is another side to this honesty coin.
I have to admit that there have been times that because of a strangers bad review, the seeds of doubt have been planted in my mind. So much so, that whenever I receive a good review from a friend, or they tell me they’ve loved my stories, a small part of me can’t help but wonder if they are lying to me because they know me and they just don’t know how to utter the truth.
Do they really love them or do they just not want to hurt my feelings and cause a rift?
In my seven years of writing and four published novels, I find that this is perhaps my biggest problem—knowing my readers. While strangers can leave harsh reviews that make my want to crawl in a corner and cry, knowing the person who is reading my novels is, by far, more cringe worthy to my body.
I hope that it’s something I will get over one day. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. But I’d really like to.
10 thoughts on “To fake it, or not to fake it . . . #writing #amwriting #author #romance #fantasy #paranormal”
I think if they are really your friends, they will tell you the truth albeit it will hurt you. Everybody has their own opinion and we have different taste of story. You cannot please everybody. Just write whatever you like, whatever makes you happy 😀
You’re right that we can’t please everyone. And I’m no different in that I can’t please everyone and I probably won’t be pleased with everything I read. I know that I can be honest with some of them. Others? Maybe not as much. Lol. Still, though, I have to say I’ve been very lucky. Lol. I’m glad for that luck.
This is quite a deep topic with words rolling around in my head trying to go in order so I could comment. First of all, I don’t read a friend’s book unless I think they’re a good writer. If I’m being honest, romance wouldn’t normally be my usual book choice, but I read yours and other friends because you’re good writers. With all those who can just upload junk without working at it, I prefer just reading a well-written story than finding crap in my favorite genre. So, I could never write a bad review for a friend, because I already only choose those I think are good writers.
As long as its well-written, it’s a good book to me. Something might not always be my taste, or I might’ve done something different with a scene, but that doesn’t mean the book isn’t good. It’s just personal preference.
Once someone told me that if I go to an art museum with a friend and the two of us look at the same painting, one of us might fall in love with it, the other might despise it. That doesn’t mean it’s not good. It’s a matter of taste. It’s hard for us to realize … sometimes it’s just an opinion and not a reflection on our story, because we are always striving to get our readers to see our vision.
Honestly, I too, have real difficulty taking criticism. I was in a writer’s critique group for 7 years, and even thought it improved my writing immensely, each time it was so difficult to handle.
I have to admit that even though I write romance, I don’t read a lot of it. I actually prefer not to. Mostly because of the heat levels. I don’t like a lot of heat, which is why my novels always have closed doors sex scenes. I know I can find sweet romances like mine (Erin Bevan is one of them), but I don’t really get a lot of time to read, so my book choices are limited. Lol. I will say that there are exceptions, I just skip the heat. I’m actually really wanting to get into the Outlander series. But I know that one has a lot of sex. Lol
I hope you’ll read mine if I ever get it out. We just closed on a house last week. We’ve been renting since we moved. We have to remodel this month before moving in, so lots going on. However, I did get the book cover finished and started working on the guidelines for Kindle Scout. If it ever gets up there, I’ll be stumpin’ for votes. 😀
Of course I will read yours when it comes out!
As an editor, it is hard for me to read a book without critiquing it along the way. Heck, I can’t even read a restaurant menu without finding errors! Occupational hazard, I guess. Anyway, book reviews are complicated for me in this regard because I want to be honest yet helpful. However, I have no interest in putting down someone’s work for the sake of being honest. And I have no interest in plugging a shoddy piece of work for a friend.
But due to my job and my duty as a blogger whose blogging friends are authors, I am obligated to review books. If I don’t like the story, I can still find something positive to say about another aspect. Perhaps the author did a good job on character development or the theme was thought-provoking. I focus my reviews on that one aspect that sang to me. Blessed be are the books that are stunning–then my job is easy-peasy!
One of my pet peeves is poorly edited material, and I won’t let that go. I will mention it in the review. I think far too many people rush their books through publication and far too many authors won’t pay for professional editorial services. I can pick out the books that were edited by friends or writing groups as a “favor” in exchange for a beta read or something.
I would like to think that people who request me to read and review their books know that I will do a fair and thorough job. I won’t say something nice just because the author is a friend. I think this is important for a trusting, long-term writer/reader/reviewer/editorial relationship. There are simply too many reviews out there that are false or half-assed and really don’t help the author at all.
I agree some people rush to publication. Although, even people who pay for a professional still end up with errors. I did. I thought it was clean so I sent it off for reviews. Then I started getting “uh, you have typos” texts from friends. What????? I went through it again and sure enough I found at least two or three per chapter. Stupid typos like the wrong word. Ugh. I still get sick to my stomach when I think about it as it cost me a 5 star review with InD’tale Magazine. Instead she could only give it a 4.5.
As an author I have no desire to burst anyone’s bubble with a bad review. I will try to focus on the good parts. And I could never live with myself if I was ever as harsh as some people out there can get. Ouch. People can be pretty mean. Lol.
Great post with good questions and dilemmas. I will only write a review if I like a book. I don’t believe in writing a negative review – nasty and no point to it. I won’t write a review if a book is poorly edited – that author has not done her work properly. But I meet lots of bloggers whose books I read and many times (most times) I’m delighted by their work, and delighted to review the book on Amazon. And they do the same with mine. I wrote a post on getting great reviews for my book, and then being shocked by a nasty one or two: https://roughwighting.net/2016/03/25/how-to-thicken-your-skin/. We authors do need to thicken our skin, but we authors are also sensitive souls – how else could we be writers? 🙂
Thank you for stopping by! I agree, I won’t write a bad review, especially ones that are just mean and don’t have a point. Thank you for the link! I’ll check out the blog right now. 🙂