I take my job seriously as a book reviewer. I love to read, which is one reason I’m picky about the books I accept to review (I’m still not taking review requests at this time). However, if you’ve made the cut and I have accepted your offer (either in the past or future), this is a good thing. It means that I’ve liked the storyline enough to move on to the next step, which is reading the book. There have been weekends that I’ve been trapped in a book and can’t get myself to come out, even for Mexican food and margaritas — my weakness. For most of the time, books like these will get a 4 or 5 star from me. It means that not only is the writing good, but so was the story line. I enjoyed the characters, and the book “spoke” to me, (yes, there is such thing).
However, if I’ve accepted to offer to read and review it and can’t get motivated to get through the first five chapters (I always give it five), it’s hard for me to want to give you a good review, even if I love you and another book you’ve written.
This leads me to think several things:
1) The book was “sold” to me wrong/false advertising
Believe it or not, your book might have been sold to me wrong. Whether or not you or your publicist email me asking if I’d review your book, selling it is to me is a big key. However, being honest about what your book is about is huge for me. If one says that it’s about “this,” but it ends up about being “that,” you’ve already lost me.
My advice: People want to read your book, so don’t sell your book saying it’s one thing when it’s really not.
2) It’s not my genre in which I read (chick lit and women’s fiction)
The big debate over whether the proper term is chick lit or women’s fiction still gets to me (in my mind, it will always be chick lit), but these days there is definite distinction about what types of books these are. These are the books with the pretty covers, the drama over something (examples: a new job or a relationship gone wrong, and overcoming those issues, so that the reader and your character(s) are satisfied with the happy ending).
My advice: Define the genre of your book. If you’re torn between two (or even three) go with what you really think, and don’t focus so much on getting your book out there to the wrong people. Like I said above, make sure you pick the right blogger/reviewer.
3) No matter how hard I want to like your book, I just can’t
Have you ever noticed that reading books are a lot like a relationship? As much as you want it to work out, sometimes you can’t force it. You might want it to work because you loved the author’s other book(s), but for some reason this one you just can’t get into, and that’s okay. Believe it or not, the author doesn’t want to waste your time with their book if you’re not liking it, mostly because they know the review won’t be so good. In this case, it’s better to contact the publicist or author, let them know your situation, and then offer to help them out by either featuring the book in a different way.
My advice: As a reviewer, be honest. As an author of a book that someone can’t get into, know that there are other reviewers out there who will be willing to read your book, and they will enjoy it, so don’t give up on “selling it right,” making sure that the book went to the right genre, and that if someone doesn’t like your book, it’s time to find someone who will.
Jennifer Gilby Roberts says
Wise words. As an author, if a reviewer doesn’t gel with my books I’d much rather they said so than write a negative review. Every book, no matter how good or popular, will fail to appeal to someone.
Isabella Louise Anderson says
Thanks so much, Jennifer! I really appreciate it. 🙂
I review a lot of books for authors and publishers and post the reviews on our blog. Occasionally, I find a book that is difficult for me to really get into for many reasons. It could be something as simple as not liking the hero or heroine and it could very well be that the author meant for the character to be unlikable. However, I do not believe in writing a bad review. If I find that the book is not “my cup of tea,” I always find something(s) positive to say. I have said it before and I’ll say it again: there is NEVER EVER a reason to write a mean, ugly or negative review. Never!
I love this post, both as an author and a reviewer… I totally agree with Jennifer. I would so much rather that someone who didn’t like my book, or could’t connect to it, passed on writing a review rather than writing a bad review. Books are subjective, like food. We all can’t love the same things.
On the same token, when I commit to reviewing a book that I don’t enjoy or can’t connect to I never thought to contact the author / publicist and express this to them. That is brilliant. Instead though I do try to find something positive about the book and include that in my review…