Authors, Writers, Publishers, and Book Readers
I wanted to write this on one of the reviews I've done on my other blog, braytonsbookbuzz.wordpress.com but decided instead to write this up as a regular blog. One of the reasons I chose to do it here instead of there is because I initially thought I'd write this at the beginning of one review and it might seem like I was lambasting the author, which, essentially, I am. I could have written up a separate blog type post over there to insert between reviews, but again, I'd have to insert it between particular reviews and I didn't want it to be as if was pointing a finger at a specific book. This pertains to one particular book, but on a more general note to many I've read.
I'm posting this early before the reviews in question but in time, it shouldn't be too difficult for someone to figure out to which reviews I'm referring.
I started reviewing books a few years ago. I love to read and have hundreds of my own books to read (and if I had been smarter, would have stuck to reviewing those) and decided to hop onto a couple of websites to review books. The problem I should have realized was that I would have to actually read the books (duh!) and that would take time and would take time away from my own books. But I persevered. I felt obliged to finish the reviews as quickly as possible.
When I moved last year, I had to inform two sites that I needed to go on hiatus because I just wouldn't have the time. I stayed with one site and am only intermittently reviewing audio books for them.
However, I decided to sign up on another site where the authors themselves made the requests. This was back in the spring and I've been asked to review over twenty books so far with three (as of this writing) waiting to be read.
When I signed on to do reviews for the first review site I was informed how they wanted the reviews written and that I could refuse to review any book I didn't want or didn't care for. I was told that some books just weren't worth the read and the very first book I received fit that category.
However, with my site, I could be a bit more honest and inform potential readers some of the good points of the books and any mistakes I found. If you've perused some of the past reviews you will see that many authors have made many mistakes, a lot of which should have been caught by an editor and many which should have been caught by the author.
There have been some good ones although in my ranking system, very few Black Belt ranks have been given which tells you that the quality has to be there in many fashions.
Jump ahead to this spring and the recent spate of books. If you've read any of the reviews since that time, you'll notice a startling pattern. Many of them have been below par. An enjoyable book will get a Blue Belt and even some Purples are worth reading. Most of them, however, have fallen short.
So recently, I finished a couple of books I found lacking quality in many areas and gave them low ranks. I then read a book that I thoroughly enjoyed. It had one or two problems, but nothing egregious. I praised it and gave it a higher rank.
For a few days, I was back to reading my own books before the next set of requests came through. In two days I accepted three reviews. I started on the first and...
Let me say this. After finishing the previous and having a break, I was feeling good. The previous one was a good book. Then I started another one and wanted to throw away not just the story, but the computer I was so disappointed. Mistakes in the prologue and throughout.
I suppose I should be thankful for the quality books that come through. They're not all bad.
I was told by one of my review sites that I had to stay positive about the books I accepted because just because I didn't like them, somebody else might. I agree, and for the most part, I enjoyed the books I received from that site. Those I took a pass on, I still reviewed for my site and I did so because those I wanted to point out the mistakes. Not that I just 'didn't like' the book because some of them had potential and a fairly decent plot. But when you have problems with grammar, punctuation, spelling, and basic sentence structure, I don't think anybody is going to enjoy trying to read through it. I've had to endure some truly awful material and I'm not writing this to be cruel to the author. I've read some glowing reviews for books that made no sense to me, that had glaring and obvious mistakes. I wouldn't have cared if Margaret Mitchell, Raymond Chandler, or Agatha Christie wrote the books, they wouldn't have been worth reading.
On the site I've signed up to take requests, I suggest that authors read previous reviews on my blog to understand what they're getting into when they ask for reviews. I'm not going to hold back. I will try to stay tactful, but when there are mistakes, I point them out.
Does this make me an expert with a big head? No. All authors make mistakes and work on their craft. I've made mistakes and am constantly trying to improve my own stories. I'm going to try to put out the best manuscript possible. I'm going to hope my editors will catch my mistakes and correct them.
I think that's part of the problem with many of the poor quality books I receive – no editing or poor editing because many are self-published. I'm not here to bash SP authors because I've seen some good ones out there. But for heaven's sake, take the time and spend some money to get some assistance. Don't just put out the first, second, third, or even the fourth draft, just because you think it's time.
I entitled this Review Regrets not because I regret accepting books to review, but regret having to read and give an honest opinion on stuff that I found wanting. My regret is the time spent on these when I have many more books I've rather be reading.
Let me know your thoughts on this.