Book reviews are reader and peer evaluations of a work. I can only imagine the dry-mouths of writers who now wait to hear if their work has passed muster. Will the readers get it? Each reader takes away something different. I can’t tell you how many moments where a reader has read my blog and took it a totally different way. I have either done my job, or the reader has discovered a weak point in my story; or I have touched that reader in a way I couldn’t imagine. Either way a writer braves not just rejections from agents and editors, and endless corrections, they bear one more test—that of the book reviewers combing through their work.
Recently, I reviewed two books. Both of which received a poor review. One was a friend; the other a stranger. The agony I experienced felt the same, but far more poignant for the friend. I don’t enjoy doing bad book reviews. I imagine each writer the same. Maybe some are more arrogant or maybe humble, but they are human beings. I take into consideration the author’s heart, but I do not hold back because to do so would compromise my integrity. I need to tell the truth in love.
Writer’s love to help out other writers, but hiding the truth from them does not allow growth of both thick skin and of learning new techniques. If the people in my critique groups told me everything I wanted to hear then I would never grow and my writing would lack depth. I need people to tell me the truth, even if that truth stings. I never consider rejections as failure or a personal attack against me. It’s a learning process. What did I do wrong? Can I rewrite and resend? What, in the letter, can I cling to and remember that was encouraging? Book Reviews are like that; what can we find in the review that was a strength and what was a weakness? You can use that information to improve your next book.
My conclusion to today’s post is this: If you want me to review your book, remember that I will review it honestly and with love. A determined writer knows his strengths and weaknesses. If you love to write, learn; and if you’re in it for the glory, find a new vocation. Remember that I, too, am a writer working to get my manuscripts published and I face the same daunting mountains that you do—the rejections, the editors, the agents, my weaknesses, my procrastination, the sharks, the scams, and ultimately the book reviewers and readers.
Are you a book reviewer? Have you ever given a bad review? And if you haven’t, what does that say about the reliability of your reviews?