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I have a dilemma. In fact, two dilemmas.

1. I bought a Kindle short story that has eight 5-star, six 4-star, four 3-star, two 2-star, and two 1-star reviews. Both 1-star reviews complained that what they bought was a short story, vice a book-length work; so I dismissed them.

I found the writing dreadful. The protag entered late; there was too much exposition, illogical actions, and incomprehensible motives; and the plot did not flow but jumped from scene to scene. All this to deliver a moral.

Should I post a review? I hesitate because 1) I got better things to do with my time than pan this trash and 2) I don't want to deal with an irate author flaming me. So should I?

2. I volunteered to review an indie pub. The guy sent me his book as a gift (it is already posted on Amazon).

Well, this isn't as dreadful as the work above, but it's bad. Descriptions drown in adjectives. Nary a verb goes by without an adverb acting as a crutch. The characters serve the plot; they don't act from motive but from a need to move the plot forward. It's like watching that puppet show in The Sound of Music without the singing. And it starts with an irrelevant -- so far -- prologue that has no tension. But that's not surprising. There was no tension in the first chapter. I mean, my synopsis is this: Prologue. Introduce some character whom we never see again; Chapter 1. Introduce the heroine; Chapter 2. Introduce the villain; Chapter 3. Introduce the hero, who happens to be the villain's son; Chapter 4. I dunno, I fell asleep.

Should I 1) post my review or 2) send my review to the writer privately and ask, "Do you want me to post this?"

PS Boy, do I appreciate Lois McMasters Bujold more now.
 

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#1: it's up to you. BTW, it's is wholly possible to write a 'this is drek' review without putting the author down. If you feel creative, and have time, try this.

#2: this is why I never swap reviews without having seen at least some of the work
 

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I would say

#1  post a review if you think it is bad and doesn't deserve the 5* reviews. You paid for the thing after all.

#2 If you were asked to review the book for Amazon then I think you should post the review.  I think authors should expect 1 and 2 star reviews - not everyone is going to like your book.  If they didn't ask specifically for a review on Amazon then send the author a crit review instead.

Mike
 

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1. Personally, I wouldn't bother. I'd put it down to experience and move on.

2. What I'm picking up is that you have very strong opinions on how a book should be written. And these opinions may not necessarily be shared by others. There are always positives to be found that balance the negatives and you should be able to separate what are errors - spelling, punctuation - from what is simply not your preferred style. If you don't feel you can write something balanced I'd contact the author and say the book really isn't your thing.

I do admin on a review site and our general rule is not to accept a book for review unless the reviewer has read the sample and wants to read the book.

Quite honestly, it isn't worth the hassle and getting yourself disliked (and readers who genuinely like the books can be much more forceful than the author). And if you also happen to be an author or are thinking of publishing then DEFINITELY don't write these reviews.
 

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Ali Cooper said:
2. What I'm picking up is that you have very strong opinions on how a book should be written. And these opinions may not necessarily be shared by others. There are always positives to be found that balance the negatives and you should be able to separate what are errors - spelling, punctuation - from what is simply not your preferred style. If you don't feel you can write something balanced I'd contact the author and say the book really isn't your thing.
I totally agree with this... a review should be more about the story, not a critique of somebody's writing style... I wouldn't review somebody's book if I thought it sucked... unless I paid for it, then I might, but probably not. I usually just move on to something else.
 

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antares said:
I have a dilemma. In fact, two dilemmas.

1. I bought a Kindle short story that has eight 5-star, six 4-star, four 3-star, two 2-star, and two 1-star reviews. Both 1-star reviews complained that what they bought was a short story, vice a book-length work; so I dismissed them.

I found the writing dreadful. The protag entered late; there was too much exposition, illogical actions, and incomprehensible motives; and the plot did not flow but jumped from scene to scene. All this to deliver a moral.

Should I post a review? I hesitate because 1) I got better things to do with my time than pan this trash and 2) I don't want to deal with an irate author flaming me. So should I?

2. I volunteered to review an indie pub. The guy sent me his book as a gift (it is already posted on Amazon).

Well, this isn't as dreadful as the work above, but it's bad. Descriptions drown in adjectives. Nary a verb goes by without an adverb acting as a crutch. The characters serve the plot; they don't act from motive but from a need to move the plot forward. It's like watching that puppet show in The Sound of Music without the singing. And it starts with an irrelevant -- so far -- prologue that has no tension. But that's not surprising. There was no tension in the first chapter. I mean, my synopsis is this: Prologue. Introduce some character whom we never see again; Chapter 1. Introduce the heroine; Chapter 2. Introduce the villain; Chapter 3. Introduce the hero, who happens to be the villain's son; Chapter 4. I dunno, I fell asleep.

Should I 1) post my review or 2) send my review to the writer privately and ask, "Do you want me to post this?"

PS Boy, do I appreciate Lois McMasters Bujold more now.
Last time I had that happen to me I gave to to my friend who writes magazine short stories. I told the writer that my friend would do a better job of it as he had been writing for thirty years. His writing is crap as well, but I daren't tell him that. He wrote a critique which I handed to the author. He never said a word about it and never asked me for another critique. Something turned out right anyway.
 

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I won't write a bad review - period. My mother taught me "if you can't say something nice..." and I really try to live by that. If I've written a review, it's because I thought the work was good.

There have been some books I've bought that I won't write a review for because I would have had to say something very negative. As I said, I just won't do that - personally, it's too painful.

If someone asked me to review their work for free and I thought it wasn't good, I'd send them a polite and private message, delicately telling them what I thought ( I would NOT make it public - I believe everyone deserves the chance to improve their work, besides, that's just my opinion - there might be others that think the work is wonderful ).
 

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I'd post the reviews based on the story.  You could mention you didn't care for the writing style, but that would be based on your personal reading preference. 

For that second one, maybe you could write a personal note just suggesting about the adjectives, etc.  From writer to writer, say, with a little opinions.  We need to have thick skin as writers and critique is important. 

-jb 8)
 

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1. I think, as it has already got some reviews, you're fine too. The only time I'd say no was if the author had no/few reviews at all, and your 1-star might kill their career stone dead. I just wouldn't want to do that based on my own subjective opinion... but otherwise go for it.

2. As above, really.
 

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I say review both.  Don't spend much time on the first, but make sure you explain why you found it wanting.

The more I express this opinion, the more I think people don't agree with me, but poorly written books with good reviews turn people off of self-published books entirely.  It hurts everyone.  Readers won't discover those self-published gems, and good writers won't find an audience.  The reviews are the ebook community's only method of policing itself for quality.

Also, it is a standard rule of fiction writing to avoid the techniques the author used.  You're not just saying "It was about wizards and lizards.  Lame!"
 

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If you paid money for a book and have an opinion on it, why not review? The author didn't ask you to buy it. It was your choice. The book is in the public domain and you're a reader. You are entitled to share your opinion, but I suggest keeping it to what worked and what didn't. Try to start out with something positive to balance it out. After all, you read it to the end.

The thing with being a writer is, we can identify those aspects where a story is weak, or we should be able to.

As for a review exchange--*I* would write back and tell the author what you think of it and be honest. If you don't think you can leave a review over a certain rating, then give them the option of saying go ahead or not (probably not). They're likely fishing for good reviews; we all want them. Every reader is different, though. And some authors can get terribly vindictive if you leave a bad review and return the favor, so to speak (happened to a friend of mine).
 
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wm ollie said:
I totally agree with this... a review should be more about the story, not a critique of somebody's writing style... I wouldn't review somebody's book if I thought it sucked... unless I paid for it, then I might, but probably not. I usually just move on to something else.
This is akin to "ignore the bad grammar, spelling, and typos. What did you think of the story?"

Story ideas are a dime a dozen. Truth be told, all stories still fall into Man versus Man, Man versus Nature, Man versus Society, Man versus Himself. The story is only as good as the storyteller, and if the storyteller's technique is lacking then that is a legitimate criticism. It becomes even more important if the book is being marketed as X but is really Y. If you have a book that is being marketed as traditional horror, but it is really YA paranormal romance and is written like a YA paranormal romance, damn straight I will as a reviewer call you out for your writing style because you are engaging in a bait and switch.
 

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Bards and Sages (Julie) said:
This is akin to "ignore the bad grammar, spelling, and typos. What did you think of the story?"

Story ideas are a dime a dozen. Truth be told, all stories still fall into Man versus Man, Man versus Nature, Man versus Society, Man versus Himself. The story is only as good as the storyteller, and if the storyteller's technique is lacking then that is a legitimate criticism. It becomes even more important if the book is being marketed as X but is really Y. If you have a book that is being marketed as traditional horror, but it is really YA paranormal romance and is written like a YA paranormal romance, d*mn straight I will as a reviewer call you out for your writing style because you are engaging in a bait and switch.
No kidding. All these things are part and parcel of being a writer and inseparable from overall impressions of the book. Good ideas are a dime a dozen, honestly. I know there has to be a few authors reading this who've had the delightful experience of having someone give them an idea as if that's the hard part rather than the beginning. (You can have the idea -- I give it to you! No need to thank me!) It's what the writer does with it all, how he or she puts it together that makes it or breaks it. I pretty much like and/or love every single basis for a book or story that I read. The fact that I read the thing means I was fairly sold on the concept. It's the actually handling of it that will win or lose me.

Does some of it come down to subjective opinion? For sure. Almost anything that goes into a review falls under that umbrella though, and few people want to ban reviews. The idea is not that there is a right opinion, but that discussions of books are helpful most of the time. However, the more extensive of a reader the reviewer happens to be, the more they're likely to point out stuff that might bug other readers, and the more likely they are to know when they're really treading into an area that is more personal preference.
 

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To review or not to review. That is the question.
Um, you just started a thread on a forum to discuss these stories ???

Of course you want to review them both, just don't be nasty about it.
 

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For 1., I think you should not waste your time. You could "agree" with those low reviews and "disagree" with the high ones, and get on with your life.
 
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