This post, by Jody Hedlund, originally appeared on her blog on 6/6/11.
In the writing community, most of us want to support each other. One way to generously show support is to buy each other’s books. We can’t discount fellow writers as a segment of our readership. (See this post: The New Growing Segment of the Reading Population: Writers)
But in buying and reading each other’s books, we’ll inevitably come across books we don’t like. That’s just a fact of life. We won’t like all books all the time.
We might not like the subject, the writing style, the plot, the development of the story, the typos, the characters. There could be a hundred and one reasons why we don’t like a book. And that’s okay.
But what should we do about the negative reaction we have to a book? Particularly when the book was written by an author who happens to be an acquaintance or friend? What should we do when that particular author knows we read his or her book (and is perhaps waiting for word on how we liked it)?
Let’s face it, as more of us publish our books (either traditionally or self-pub), we’ll continually have more writer friends’ books to read. How are we going to handle the books that don’t resonate for one reason or another? How can we offer our support to our fellow writers when we don’t like the book? How do we tell them our true feelings without hurting their feelings and/or our relationship?
When we read a book we don’t like, here are several possible scenarios:
- We lie totally and completely. We tell our friend we liked her book and think she’s a good writer, when in reality we couldn’t finish the book.
- We tell a half-lie (if that’s possible!) We fudge just slightly. We think of the positive aspects we liked about the story and tell the author those things (like how well they used commas), but refrain from telling her how much we disliked the rest.
- We’re politely honest. We give truthful but tactful feedback. We figure from one writer to another, our friend will want to know her weaknesses so she can improve. However, we make sure to point out the positives too.