Tuesday, June 21, 2011

In Which I Rant About Things That Bother Me And...

...Things I Have A Problem With:

Writing is book is no easy task. Sure you may have the plot figured all out, know every single minuscule details of your characters life in your head - how they look, talk, live, die, etc.- know what arc to give them to bring their story to life on the page, how to hook your reader with exactly what they expect or don't expect. None of this matters if you can't put these things onto paper (virtual or real) and create a story. A voice compelling enough for a person to pick up a book and read it. Then comes the task of finishing a draft. Polishing it until your wrists are complaining of falling off and you're at risk for carpal tunnel. Then comes more intense revisions. Then comes the process of finding the courage to find someone who will love your baby as much as you do: understand it, love it, and do their best to do right by you and your story. That's not a easy task. Rejections are hard to stomach for anyone. The best of people sometimes don't do well and take it as a personal failure and give up however most are resilient as they bounce back and work their asses off to fix it even more and try once again to find someone else. Then when they DO find that right person, you have to find a whole another group of people (publisher/publishing company/house) that agrees with you both and is as excited to bring your baby to the general populous known as the world.  Not such an easy task after all. Working through more hoops after finalizing that process (a long one at that- generally known to last anywhere between 14 to 24 months) and anxiously waiting for the rest of the world to read your work and then judge it. Critique it. Comment on it. *gulp* SO. Not. An. Easy. Task. (Think about that research paper draft that came back marked in red all over).

So, when you read someone's book and decide to review it, please keep these things in your mind. From one reader to another, this is what I believe is key in not just your professional opinion but as a person as well.

BE CONSIDERATE. Please. 

If you don't like the book, okay, no harm done. Why bash it? Learn to look at the good things and the bad ones. If there aren't any good things, just say that and shut up. Is it always necessary to itemize the bad things and write paragraphs upon paragraphs about them? Isn't that a tad bit juvenile? Thought we left that side of ourselves back in middle school. Sure you have devoted two, or three or maybe even 5 hours to the task but I'm sure you took away SOMETHING from it. Perhaps that that kind of book is NOT YOUR CUP OF TEA. It didn't sit well with you, doesn't mean it won't with others. This bothers me most when something bad you say about a book turns other people off from even picking it up. Comments like, "You didn't like this? Oh, that means I won't either', 'Not going to bother reading this then', 'Thanks for saving me my time'. You know what all of those sound like to me? Just sad pathetic excuses and cop-outs. This enrages me SO SO SO MUCH that I want to bang my head against the wall until there is nothing left of it. Your words have the power to take away someone's choice of reading that book and judging it FOR THEMSELVES. It could be something that's totally up their alley but nope, you've just saved them 5 hours on something they could have enjoyed or maybe even loved. A leisurely read that could have taken their minds off everything else and just transported them to another reality. Or an epic read that could have just for a few hours taken them away from all of their real life issues. 

 Pinch yourself. Yeah, you felt that? You're human. Think about the author. When they pinch themselves, they feel what you felt too when you pinched yourself. I'm sure they feel the same emotions that you do. The author is a human being as well.  Something to consider.

So, next time you use your words to describe what you thought of another's words, think about the effect YOUR words will have. Think before you discards someone's words as paltry and not worth someone's time. Think twice before you put someone off of a book they could want on their shelf. Think about the fact that you're taking that choice away from them and what would you do if someone took that choice away from you. Just think. 

Until next time, 

7 comments:

  1. Nice post Mitali! I have a problem with this too. I don't mind if people say why they didn't like it (though paragraphs upon paragraphs do get redundant). What I hate is when a reviewer starts to bash the author and everything they stand for. There are a lot of mean, rude and immature bloggers out there. I always try to add "if you like... you may like this" because feel the same way that you do and don't want to take a way a book from someone who may like it.

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  2. Beautifully said! And it applies to writers talking about other writers. Don't trash the community you want to embrace you. Be honest, but tempered.

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  3. For what its worth, I like to see negative reviews on blogs. When I read a blog I like to see rave reviews and ones that are more negative. With both types I want to see that breakdown of why the reader felt like they did. That is how I start to match my reading tastes to theirs. If the reviewer didn't like X, Y and Z for X, Y and Z reasons and knowing my thoughts on those issues then I can say that I probably won't like the book for the same reasons. Why should I go out and still read that book if I am pretty certain that I won't like it? When that time could be spent reading a book that I think that I'll like.

    So yes I'll read a negative post from a blogger I trust and if they don't like it then I might say, "Thanks for the review I'll give this one a pass". In the end that will save the author another negative review if I had read it, disliked it and then posted about it.

    Again this is from blogs I read and trust. If a blog is new to me and I don't really know how our tastes match up then yes I'll probably still give the book a go. But if there is that established history of my liking (or not liking as the case may be) the same books as the blogger then I will just take their word for it.

    I know that the publishing process is long and that authors work hard and have strong feelings for their books. But as readers, we can't like everything that is put out there. The world would be a very boring place if we did. So as long as the reviewer isn't attacking the author in their post and writing a well thought out review of what didn't work for them then I am fine with that. I like to see that. When blogs only review positiviely then I tend to stop reading them. It just makes it more difficult for me to match up my tastes to that blogger...and I go to the blogs to get recommendations of the books that are worthy of my time. I don't have a lot of free time so I don't want to waste it on a book that I think is going to suck. There are so many excellent books out there that I feel that is where my focus should be. And with so many options to choose from I need other bloggers to write their honest thoughts to help me sift through all the possibilities out there.

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  4. Thanks, Mitali! I think there is a way for people to express dislike without spitting loaded words at an author who has put a lot of work into writing something--and who was brave enough to try to share it with others! Sure, they've got to learn to take some criticism, and reviewers should be honest (or lose credibility for poor recommendations) but there's criticism and then there's bashing. I've actually unfriended someone on goodreads for how much they bashed books (even ones I didn't like, though what they said about the books I loved already made me cringe)... and she's a pretty influential person on GR. To avoid bashing her myself, she shall remain nameless :D but she has lost *all* her credibility with me.

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  5. I agree with Irish. Of course, naturally, we will all have different opinions on this, but I do have a few trusted bloggers whose opinion I wholly trust. That doesn't mean that I'll cross the book of the list right away if they didn't like it because I'll research into the book to get more of an idea of others opinion on it.

    As a blogger I count on those bloggers to be honest in their reviews. And so if they just said they weren't to fond of it without explanation it would leave me scratching my head as to why. I think you also owe your readers an explanation and so it's important for me, personally, that if I don't like a book I explain why. Of course author bashing is unacceptable since we are reviewing the book but I wouldn't be reading the review in the first place if they did get out of line.

    And as strange as it may sound. When I read a review from a trusted blogger who I know I have VERY similar taste to who reviews a book they didn't like. You take into account what they weren't fond of and see for yourself how you would feel about those things. And it's from that perspective that you see that the book isn't for you.

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  6. Great post and great comments. I absolutely do understand all the work that goes into a book and I do take that into account. I try to be respectful if I don't like a book and say what doesn't work for me.

    I do also count on my blogger friends to be honest in their reviews and tell me what doesn't work for them.

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