Insecure Writer’s Support Group: Reviewer’s Dilemma

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time for another Insecure Writer’s Support Group post.

This month isn’t about a writing insecurity per se, but more… an insecurity surrounding being a writer online.

Recently, I changed my posting strategy both for my blog and for my YouTube Channel. I realized that my blog content was more suitable for seasoned writers, while I could use my YouTube Channel to draw in new readers by posting tips for new writers (most are readers, no?) and by talking about books I’ve enjoyed reading.

The latter does have the extra benefit of encouraging me to read more, but it’s coming with a huge potential landmine:

 
What if I don’t like the book? 

In all the years I’ve been blogging (eight this year, btw), I’ve consistently refused to post reviews, simply because I never know what to do in the event of having a meh reaction to a book, or worse. I can’t lie and call it okay, because meh is not okay to me. Especially if I paid for said book.

Also, if people requested me to review the book, especially if we’ve built a relationship over the years, I could foresee that me just not being subjectively into their book would do damage to said relationship.

All in all, the issue of a writer reviewing other writers’ books felt like swimming in shark infested waters, and I had always refused to wade in.

Until now.

So why did I change my mind?

Short answer is I want to attract readers and grow my following, and my lurking for two years on YouTube and Tumblr has revealed that talking about books to readers is the way into their hearts. Also… really… I just really want to talk about the books I’ve read. Especially when I liked them. And since this year I have a goal of reading every day, knowing I need to whip up some content around my reading is doing a lot to act as an incentive so I don’t move my reading down my priority list the way I’ve done lately.

And I guess I thought that it’ll be okay. I read so many books that I love that I didn’t really think I would bump into one I didn’t enjoy.

And of course, I did just that in this first week after deciding to post my opinion on books I read.

Which means I’m firmly in chum-filled waters now. Do pretend I didn’t read it? Do I acknowledge reading it with a meh, moving on attitude?

I’m kinda thinking of going with the latter. Especially for this book. It wasn’t bad. It just had flaws. Explaining those flaws would make readers cry with boredom, though, so that’s not an option. Writing a post about those flaws for this blog without naming names, however, is.

Thing is, I still don’t know if acknowledging a book as being mediocre is a good idea. So maybe if I did a quick “what I liked, what I didn’t like” segment on it…

Sigh. 

I need to stew on it. Three more weeks before I have to make a call.

Any suggestions? Do you review the books you read? What do you do with the ones you don’t enjoy?

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16 thoughts on “Insecure Writer’s Support Group: Reviewer’s Dilemma

  1. Hi Misha, it’s tricky isn’t it? Some people won’t rate something if they think it’s less than 3 stars. But if you decide to be brave, don’t forget that constructive criticism can be helpful too. If the writer never learns what’s wrong with their work they’ll just continue to make the same mistakes. If you tell a reader it’s great when it isn’t, they aren’t going to trust your opinion next time. The ‘sandwich’ approach can be a tactful way of doing it – say something nice, mention the issue, end with something positive. Good luck whatever you decide!

    1. I actually just remove DNF books from my shelves altogether, since when I do DNF a book, it’s within the first chapters. I’ll definitely take a look at your approach. 🙂

  2. I understand that dilemma, Misha, and have faced it down. I now only review books I like. My readers know that so aren’t surprised at all the 4/5 and 5/5 ratings. The others, I just let go.

  3. Yeah, I’ve occasionally encountered that “I wish it was better” when reading other writer’s work. And I know other writers have had that same feeling with my books. Still, bravo to you for stepping out into that dangerous territory.

    1. Yeah, it’s definitely that. The book did keep my attention all the way through, but it just left me with an empty, unsatisfying feeling in the end because it undid things as fast as it established them. :-/

  4. When I post book reviews on Litsy, I actually find that when I point out a book’s flaws, more people add said book to their stacks to eventually read. I think when a book review is too shiny, it doesn’t feel honest. I’m more likely to go for a book when someone warns me about where it could be better. But yes, shark infested waters. 🙂 http://www.raimeygallant.com

  5. You raise a complicated question. Everyone has her own answer to it. My approach – I rarely post bad reviews if I dislike the book too much. I almost never finish such a book either, so I can’t post a review to a DNF. The one exception is the classics or some very popular books (like Twilight), the ones I can’t damage by my reviews. On the other hand, struggling writers don’t need their works thrashed by me. They struggle as I do, and I don’t want to add to their suffering.

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