Reviewing Books is not as nice as you think

Have you ever been asked to review/beta read or provide any kind of feedback for a manuscript or self published book?

It’s harsh. Because not every book is for everybody and not everybody is for every book. (I’ve googled this phrase ’cause I think I might have heard it before, but I found nothing. So if you happen to know who said that, please let me know so I can give the proper credits and quotes where it corresponds.) And what does this means? It means that it doesn’t matter how much you love books or how many books you’ve read in your entire life, some books may not be just for you. It all depends on personal preferences.

Through my life, I’ve read in most genres: thrillers, horror, mysteries, romance, young adult, political essays, biographies, memoirs, sci-fi, fantasy, etc., and I’m almost sure that at least I have one favorite in each genre. As some say, I read in a wide spectrum and it’s hard to define a favorite genre. It’s mostly how I connect with the book. For some readers, it’s about the characters and how they connect with them. I’m more a plot-driven person. I like things to happen, feel a flow in the narrative.

But sometimes I have issues with “classic” English books.  Since most of them were written too long ago, I struggle to follow them; the writing style too different from I’m used to. And there’s the issue of my first language too, meaning that the compulsory reading I had in my school years was “way” different from traditional English literature.

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So in this task of reading “the English classics” I found myself disappointed most of the time. I have a knack for spying the reviews before I start reading them. And since classics have a good reputation, you usually find good reviews about them. But when I read them, I find myself unable to connect with the reviews. It seems like I’ve been reading a different book. I get high expectations from the “best classics of all ages” to only find myself struggling to finish them.

But the worst experience sometimes happens when you’re asked to review a book for somebody else. It could be a review for an already self-published book or a beta reading of a manuscript. It doesn’t matter how you advertise in beta read forums about enjoying thrillers and mysteries. because sometimes the sort of thriller you get is not really your cup-of-tea.

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How do you tell these people? If certainly makes it harder when the book has already been published… making bad reviews in platforms such as Goodreads or Amazon could actually damage the selling chances of the book. It’s harsh.

I wonder if there’s a way to explain your preferences in a reviewer profile that is not based on genre preference. I guess it’s part of the business. A risk you have to take as a reviewer.  A training you have to embrace to improve your tactics skills in dealing with not liked books.

And you, do you think there is a good way to write a bad review for a self published book?

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Published by Carla Doria

Writer, blogger, traveler, mindful of a spiritual path (or at least trying to). I'm also a Happiness Engineer and support people building their websites.

5 thoughts on “Reviewing Books is not as nice as you think

  1. Is there such a thing as constructive criticism in a review? SciFi and Scary idea is good though. Write about the flow of dialogue, the vivid settings, and whatever else is good from a writer’s point of view instead of a reader’s. Luckily, I’ve liked all the books I’ve beta read, even the ones in genres that I normally pass by.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, you’ve been lucky 🙂 I think I might be overthinking the books I beta read too much, from the POV of the writer and reader. But you’re right, writing about the dialogue, settings etc. could be a good idea for starting my reviews and making them as constructive as possible.
      Thanks for stopping by as always! 🙂


  2. I always try to talk about positives in the bad review. Things that I like even if I didn’t like the book overall. I think that’s a must. I also acknowledge if it just wasn’t too my taste. I don’t think there’s necessarily a good way to give a bad review, there’s just a good way to give A review. Period. I have a disclaimer, too, on my blog that states I only give honest reviews, so don’t ask me to review your stuff if you’re afraid of a bad review.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for your reply and for visiting my blog. Yeah, good suggestion! I guess we just have to be honest and try to be as polite as possible. There’s always something good in a book; although, believe it or not, I came across a couple of them which hardly had something I could rescue… but I guess those are going to be the exceptions.
      Your disclaimer idea is excellent, and I’m definitely going to add it to my Goodreads beta reviewer profile.
      Thanks so much for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

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