Do Writers Give Up the Right to Be Casual Reviewers? | Nathan Bransford, Author

Do Writers Give Up the Right to Be Casual Reviewers? | Nathan Bransford, Author.

This is a good topic for discussion. I have to admit, every time I post a review, I am mindful of my own stories and my own shortcomings. Any author deserves a respectful review, even if you hated the book.

Which brings up a point I’ve been wondering about. In trying to support other authors, I’ve read some books that are not in my preferred reading genres. The books were truly fine, but I didn’t enjoy them because I don’t like that kind of book. So what do I do? The author is expecting (sort of) that I’ll post a review. Do I just say, “good book, good writing,” and avoid specifics? Does it come across as damning with faint praise?


7 thoughts on “Do Writers Give Up the Right to Be Casual Reviewers? | Nathan Bransford, Author”

  1. I think the specifics become more important in this case. What worked about the writing? Were the characters strong and true to themselves throughout? Did the author build suspense appropriately? Did the conclusion make sense? What about setting and imagery? If the book truly was fine, there’s plenty good to say about it whether or not it satisfied you as a reader.

    1. Exactly. Those are all points I think can go into a review, and I’m glad you mentioned them all. In the end, an important thing is for the story to be consistent with its world and characters.

  2. As a reader, I would love to hear that somebody enjoyed a book despite not normally reading that kind of story. I think that speaks volumes for the writing. I think it’s also to good to declare where you’re coming from on the outset. “I don’t normally read romance, but I found the characterization in this book strong enough to pull me in.” Conversely, if the person normally reads that type of story and it didn’t work, I’d want to know. Heck, I think I’d just want to know, period.

    As a writer. I fear giving a bad review to a friend to the point where I might shy away from reading a book. Recently, I read Chris Evans’ first book of Iron Elves, touted as Napoleon meets Tolkien. I wanted to love this book. It was interesting and had a cool twist on Elves and such, but I had problems with how the story developed in the last third. I didn’t review it because I didn’t want to hurt Chris’ feelings (not that I would). Thus, I tend to only review books from people I know if I really like them.

    Wow, this is messed up. If I love to know, I suppose others do to. By not reviewing, I’m depriving others of why that book didn’t work for me. Grrr…


    1. See, that’s my dilemma too, Dave. I would want to know and I think other writers do to. But I wonder if it’s better to send a private note to the author rather than post a bad review. The only real reason to post a negative review is to warn other people about how bad the book is. But if it’s only because “I don’t like this sort of thing” that’s not a good enough reason.

  3. I have the same fears. I never offer to review someones book even if I want to help because what if I hate it?? On Goodreads I only post stars if they’re 4 or 5 – I plan on adding this to my bio. Its a total cop-out but seriously I want to help those I enjoy and not hurt those I didn’t. I have reviewed some books- most of them I don;t know the author. I read one just the other day that is between a 3 and 4 but I would need to leave a review explaining what worked for me and what didn;t and I’m temped to just ignore it all together because I’m just not sure! Ack! The ANGST!

  4. Possibly consider the redeeming qualities about the novel. If it is a situation where someone provided you something with a hope or expectation of a review and you can’t find any redeeming qualities about it: page turner, good tension, interesting love triangle, some unexpected twists or something…then perhaps it’s best to let the author know that you probably aren’t the best person to review it.

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