A - I'm a chickenshit
B - Karma is a bitch!
C - The Golden Rule; do unto others as you would have done unto you, especially applies to writers
D - My opinion isn't the only one that should matter
E - All of the above
F - All of the above, except A cause you know me and you know I ain't no chickenshit!
If you follow this blog or my reviews at Historical Novel Reviews, you know how much I love writing, historical fiction and other writers. I truly believe my role in this amazing community of writers is to give back generously because of the number of writers who've helped me. It's also part of my role to be positive and uplifting of other writers' careers. So, what happens when I put on my book reviewer hat and get down to reading something that, in my opinion, isn't quite up to snuff?
A couple weeks ago, I finished reading someone's work that had been submitted for review. The concept sounded amazingly interesting and I knew it was just the right book for me...until I started reading it. The plot just didn't work and the characters weren't on the page long enough for me to connect with them. I was hugely disappointed, but I'm sure, no more so than the writer whom I wrote to and explained that I couldn't publicly post a review. It was one of the hardest emails I've ever had to write. I know what it feels like to hear that someone thinks your work isn't good, but my conscience wouldn't allow me to slam another writer like that.
Whoever said "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all," must have been thinking about writers reviewing each other's work. Fortunately, I'm not the goddess of great writing - I'll take my imperfect attempts any day over having to write consistently perfect prose, thank you very much. I still have a lot to learn and fortunately, the writing community teaches me something each day. With that in mind, my estimation of the quality of someone's work isn't the only opinion that matters. I would hate for my negative opinion to be the first for a book under review. Some people might say, hell, you're just telling an ugly truth that the other writer needs to hear. Maybe. But it goes deeper than that.
The writing and book blogging community is a little incestuous. Many of us who review also write, particularly in the same genre. It's a little hard to be objective and avoid imposing some of "this is how I would have done it" into your views on another writer's work. Also, that thing about karma being a bitch and the Golden Rule - yeah, I know all about that. When you bring someone else's writing down, you're just opening yourself up for the same criticism.
I leave it up to the readers, who are not writers themselves and who have no ambitions to take on the challenges that we do, to post the bad reviews. I'll just keep doing my part to support fellow writers.