Hell No, Dear Abby!

Dear Abby recently advised someone to provide a review of a self-published book that would get around the fact that the book was not worth reading. She said to use the words “a real page turner,” although the book was very poorly edited. “Reader in The Southwest” said the book was filled with misused and misspelled words, and punctuation problems. The writer had even switched the names of two characters. “Reader” couldn’t even force herself to finish reading the book, but her friend’s husband had written it and her friend had edited it. She felt it was too late to say anything negative about the book because it was already printed.

Photo by Lori Ericson

Photo by Lori Ericson

Dear Abby was being asked what to do in response to pressure to write a great review on Amazon. Abby advised her to find something she liked about the book and mention that it was a “page turner” because the reader did have to turn the pages.
I often take note of these Amazon reviews in determining whether or not to read a book. Giving a false review and misleading those who may purchase the book is wrong. If you’re not impressed with a book, don’t write a review.
I also think this issue speaks to the facts of self-publishing. If you can do it and do it well, make money from your writing, all power to you. But if you don’t get your work properly edited and just put it out there, it’s doing an injustice to all the self-published writers trying to do it right.
As a newspaper reporter for nearly twenty years, I’ll be the first to admit I need an editor and so does everyone. By the time I’m done even writing this blog, I’ll read back through it and find things that need changing. Sometimes I’ll make those changes and add in new errors. It happens, and it happens to the best of writers.
Mary Farmer at http://merryfarmer.net blogged recently about self-publishing being a business and the steps she takes to get a book out. She’s doing it right, not relying on just herself. She has beta-readers, editors and a publicist.
For all those self-published writers who are simply having a spouse or friend read through their masterpiece and then putting their work out there for the world to try to waddle through, I say keep it to yourself. I also say you deserve any bad review you get! I’ve become angry at being ripped off every time I’ve tried to read a book that I came to realize was not properly edited and not vetted by anyone with a good eye for detail. So far, I’ve simply not provided a review. With this kind of advice from Dear Abby, I feel that maybe it’s time to say what I feel as nicely as possible but honestly.
My first novel is my baby. It’s being read now by a series of editors with a publishing company. I hope every single wrong detail, misspelling and incorrect punctuation mark is discovered. I’ve spent more hours than I care to admit on this first book. I’ve rewritten, edited and ran much of the book through my writing group, but I know there are still things to find, fix and improve.
How do you handle writing a review for a book you found lacking?