Saturday, October 2, 2010

Ethical Dilemma?

I have a question for those of you who write reviews of books that the author has personally asked you to write.

In the last couple of months I've had a few authors email me and ask me to review their books. Some are first time authors, some are not. I feel extremely privileged to be asked and most usually, of course, say yes. That is the whole reason I started this blog in the first place. But now, I'm very much stuck between a rock and a very uncomfortable place (Like perhaps the back of a Volkswagen).

One of the books that I've been asked to review has a great premise, and some very lackluster editing. I'm having serious troubles reading more than three or four pages at a time. I don't know what I should do. I want desperately to read the rest of the book and do what I told the author I would, but at the same time I can not see the review being a good one. I have good points to say about the book, but they are drowned by the bad points. I also want to tell the author that they have great ideas, really, but need a lot more editing. I'm finding myself editing the book as I go, which makes the reading experience less fun, personally. What do I do in this situation? Do I just read the book, give my honest review and be done with it? Do I email the author and tell them my feelings so far?

I want to be an honest reviewer and I feel that I am. But I don't want to hurt anyones feelings. I'm feeling extremely torn and need some advice. Any you could offer would be greatly appreciated.


  1. Be honest. That is what any author who truey wants to deliver the best piece they can would want. Authors (should) understand that not all reviews are going to be glowing "Go Buy,Go Buy" and any that think that are delusional. I my personal opinion that is what seperates a good reviewer from a great one. If you feel awkward or poorly about posting such a review, send it in an email to the authoor rather then posting it and explain that you only post reviews that would be benificial to the piece. If the author reacts negatively dont sweat it because you simply done your job as a reviewer.
    Hope that helps!!
    JL Oiler

  2. Ooh - excellent post (although obviously not an excellent plight...)! I'm facing a similar dilemma myself and think that emailing the author might be a good way to start - it gives the author chance to say thank you for trying and for them to receive the criticism without having their pride and joy publicly slated. Having said that, if that was always the case, we'd only ever read positive reviews - it seems a bit unfair to critique more long-standing authors honestly but offer first-time authors a way out...still, an email might soothe your conscience a bit? If you don't get a response, you could always just post the review but make it clear that you're being constructive, not just mean :)

  3. It is such a tough situation to be in, I know. I recently read and reviewed a book that I did not like, and it was tough to read. I did post the review and selected a few examples of the book to point out my thoughts, but I stressed that I know other readers may like it more than me. Here's the review as an example for you to check out: Coffee and a Book Chick -- The Wedding Gift...

    I received that book from a blog tour company and I still felt horrible to write that review. I did make sure to point out that it's just my opinion only. What I wish I had included in it were links to other reviews that were done that were more positive so that everyone could link to other blogs to take a look and see that many people had a variety of opinions.

    I'd also probably email the author and let them know that you'll be posting the blog, but that unfortunately, you had some concerns on the editing of it -- be honest with them and let them know that you don't want to hurt any feelings, but you just want to give them a heads up. It's the integrity of a blogger to keep it honest, and every author will always experience a wide share of love, hate, or indifference to their work -- no matter how fantastic a novel is to the majority of people. It will happen, unfortunately. :(

    Best of luck -- we all know how it is!

  4. I think you have to call it like you see it. I think far too often too many people just fawn all over books and never want to say anything bad. I recently read a book and all I heard was good stuff about it, how wonderful it was and it was horrible. I'm sitting there like did we all read the same book? Really?

    Editing in books has gotten terrible lately. I find it incredibly frustrating. I don't know what the problem is, just running it through the spell checker doesn't work, but apparently the editors don't care or want to save money or something. Unless, we as reviewers speak up about it, nothing will be done.

  5. oh dear.... I hope you're not reading my book!

    BUT seriously, I'd much, much, much rather know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.... it really is kinder, in the end


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