What To Expect From A Critique & Book Reviews


bae910b9-d3a9-482f-affe-8395e4f97ec3What is a critique?

Critique is a of disciplined, systematic analysis of a written or oral discourse. Critique is commonly understood as fault-finding and negative judgement, but it can also involve merit recognition, and in the philosophical tradition it also means a methodical practice of doubt. —Babylon dictionary.

***

My little ranting…

Ever since I saw someone throw a fit about reviews they received by a reader, I’ve been dying to write about it.  So that I may stop banging my head against my desk when reading about this oh-so-common problem, I am going to vent here.

If you have done this, then I’m here to tell you, shame on you. This is not how to behave. You’re an adult in an adult world, so act like one. Childish behavior such as this will give you a bad reputation, not only among those you complain to publicly, but also your friends who are sitting there in awe.

Unfortunately, I know some who have done just this and sadly enough, I have a hard time respecting their work and can’t find it in myself to promote or support them. That’s what happens when you act in this matter. Sure―we all want to cry, or have cried, when receiving a bad review. My editor and critiquer (By god I’m going to write Webster to add that word!),  have seen me crumble when I feel hopeless about my writing.

We ALL have our down times, and we are surely allowed them. No one is perfect. My point is, it’s how we conduct ourselves in the public’s eye, and how we perceive ourselves as professionals. If you have hopes and dreams of being an author―and have respect, you must keep your behavior in check.

I want to clarify―It’s completely fine that you complain and whine and throw a pity party for yourself. BUT! not in public. There is a time and place for everything.

Be professional! and stop bitching.

Do not go to someone and ask, ”Hey! Go to GoodReads (or whichever venue you’re using for reviews) and give me 5 stars so that my book will stand a chance.” This right here, should be a red flag to anyone who is about to read this book. First, the author is so unsure of their writing they are wanting to take anyone they can find that will go and give them five stars. This person would probably also go to their family and ask for ‘support’ (blind support!) to also give the 5 stars.

This is misleading to other readers and unfair! You are cheating. If you know that your writing needs a lot of work then it shouldnt have been self-published to begin with (if it had gone through a professional publishing company, you wouldn’t even be published).If you know it’s not going to receive good feedback, don’t talk people into lying to others to satisfy your ”Oh I’m published now, it doesn’t matter what my book reads like” ego.

It’s better to spend five years writing your book and producing a soul grabbing story than writing one in a month and it be written poorly. Now, don’t get me wrong, I know some excellent authors who have written a book within a month or two―and these writers are professionals and know what it takes to write.

If you receive 1 star, 2 star or 5 stars, be excited that someone read your book. I’d be grateful if someone read mine, no matter how it affected them. When receiving a rough critique―take it as a good thing. Take your lumps and grow. If you go to your blog or friends or publicly pout and throw fits saying, ”This isnt fair! Did you see what he said?” that doesn’t do anything but show how childish you are and that you aren’t ready to take on a writing career. Suck it up, learn, revise your thoughts and better yourself. These people who have given  you the reviews of a nightmare are the same people who will be there to cheer you on and praise you after you take what you’ve learned and produce a mind-blowing story.

Sure, its tough hearing that your work is not professionally written. Not everyone’s writing is professionally written, not the first go ’round. We are all on a learning curve and we grow stronger by allowing everyone into our world.

Are friends and family the worst critiquers?

Firstly, I wish to clarify, I’m not saying friends and family should never read anything you write. It’s always great to have support and some ego boost from them, but should we rely on them for unbiased opinions? Although you may have family that perhaps are also writers/editors/publisher―there will be that unconditional love, or affection they have for our close friends. And that fear of hurting someone’s feelings.

The best way to get an honest critique is to find someone who is not personally close to you, who will read your book, and let you know in all honesty what they think about it.

Having said that last sentence, any of you who know me know that I have a great relationship with my editor. The kind of working relationship where your editor can also be a mentor and a critquer (dammit that word is getting on my nerves) is RARE! If you find that person who will  tell you that you have a lot to learn before becoming a great writer, and teach you simultaneously, then grab this person and hold on to them. They are hard to come by. If you have that close person that you TRUST to tell you when your work isn’t your best and you have no doubt whatsoever about their opinions, then that is spectacular.

”Friends don’t let friends drive drunk. And friends don’t let friends write stupid.”―A. Joleigh

 

What to expect from a critique.

Honesty! That’s it. You will be more inclined to trust in your own work, and the opinion of a professional if they are honest. If you only hear ”great job!”, ”nice work!”, or something along those lines, do NOT consider that a review or a critique. Consider it sweet support from a friend.

Expect notes on words perhaps they’d seen overused, weak plots, and/or even advice on how to strengthen your characters (just some examples). Chances are, if this reader feels this, the other readers will as well.

Constructive Criticism is a must! (This portion is for you reviewers and critiquers)

Have you ever wanted to say, ”Damn, what were you thinking?” ”Dude, burn that shit up and start over.” or my favorite, ”It made my eyes bleed.” (I have wanted to say that before) Although it’s tempting at times, this only tears down the writer. It doesn’t encourage and help their desire to write. Putting yourself out for the public to see is hard enough.

Critique and build up at the same time. Tell the writer what they are doing wrong and give them suggestions as how to better it. How else are they going to learn? If their friends and family arent telling them, who will? Its your job in a critique to warn them and help them grow.

Blind Support

This is also to anyone who is critiquing. Whether it’s a friend of yours that you are reviewing a book for or a stranger, do them a favor and be honest. You are only harming the author if you deceive them by saying its great when clearly there are some errors and it needs work.

Bully Reviews

These types of people are also on the internet, unfortunately. And will jump at any opportunity to trash your work just to cause you stress and pain. Common sense will tell you, and others, that this person is a waste of space, so 1) dont make such a big deal about it to the public, Prove you’re mature and not a child like this bully, and 2) real readers will overlook this imbicile and read your work for what it really is.

***Important Rule To Remember***

YOU know what you want to write. YOU and only you can write with your voice. Do not let a critique or review change your writing style. These readers have opinions and they share them because you’ve asked them to. They are exactly that―OPINIONS. So take it just as that. Take from it what you know that you can learn from and better yourself. Anyone who tries to change your voice isnt trying to change it but probably doesnt know how to explain to you what it is that they dont like.

(Let’s out long held breath)

Thanks for allowing me to rant.

Faithfully & Sincerely,

A.. Joleigh

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2 thoughts on “What To Expect From A Critique & Book Reviews

  1. “”Hey! Go to GoodReads (or whichever venue you’re using for reviews) and give me 5 stars so that my book will stand a chance.” This right here, should be a red flag to anyone who is about to read this book.”

    Great post – and unfortunately something that happens far too often. I’ve just watched someone I ‘know’ do exactly this, and watched others support the behaviour by rushing off to goodreads or amazon to give 5-star reviews. Unfortunately in the resulting mêlée, the fact that valid points were raised in the negative review are lost amongst the ‘victim’ syndrome of the author – points that had been made elsewhere and ignored by the author.
    Negative reviews are horrid and hard to take, no question -.but from what I’ve seen authors who do the kind of thing as in the above quote are usually the same authors who will never listen to any advice, and dismiss critique that isn’t favourable.

    • Thanks for commenting Piper!
      It’s embarrassing isn’t it? Part of being a writer is taking criticism and growing. We need to think about what the audience prefers and needs from us. The whole idea of having reviews or finding beta readers, is to help us progress as a writer and reach higher levels of intellect regarding the craft of creating a mind-captivating story. Any Tom, Dick, Curly, Larry and Moe can publish their own book; and this scares me. I am all for self-published literature but the downfall of this is the authors don’t go through venues (such as editors and critical publishers) that would normally force them to think twice about the way they are writing.

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