Reviews are important. Most of us probably read reviews for items, books, films etc. They help us decide whether we're going to like something, find something useful or whether we should avoid it like the plague. For authors, especially indie authors, reviews of their books are important. They not only help the public decide whether to buy a book but when it comes to books on Amazon ranking, the more positive reviews the higher the book will appear on searches and lists. Of course no author wants to receive a negative review, but how negative does a review have to be to seen as bad? And is it worth losing a friendship over those negative words?

The following is a personal story I've experienced which I hope will lead to some discussion. Although I started by reviewing items on amazon, the moment I read and reviewed a book, I rediscovered my love of reading and I firmly moved the majority of all my reviewing time into books. Since moving into this path and blogging my book reviews, I've been approached by many indie authors wanting an honest review of their books. I never get paid for these reviews, just receive a free copy of their work and inevitably, after reviewing their books, I've become good friends with a lot of them.

Many of these authors have since asked me to review their next book and while we are good friends they trust that I'll be honest in my review and won't give a favourable one based on our friendship. People say you should never get your friends to read your work or in this case write a review and in some cases this is true. For starters, amazon is not keen on friend reviews and will delete them if they realise a link between authors and friends, however I'm very professional in my approach to reviews and in any case, these authors ask me for my opinion on their books, either way.

So, when one author I had become friends with asked me to review their new book and even stated 'Whether you do or don't like it, I'd still like to know what you think' I was more than happy to read their latest work. Throughout the time I was friends with them and reading their work they were keen to know what I thought and even reassured me that they wouldn't mind whatever I told them. So I did just that. Was it bad? No. Would I write a negative review? No. I simply said the book wasn't as good as their previous one. So why on earth would they suddenly drop a friendship over what I'd said?

The book was good but not great. I told them that to me it was a 4 out of 5 star book and that's what I'd review it as. The book had something missing which made it 4 stars but that didn't mean the book was a failure, in fact I thought the author might take the slight criticism as a positive and improve that part of their book, especially as this was a new release. But they didn't take this news well, not at all! They broke all contact with me, ignored me, blocked my communications and to this day they pretend I don't exist!

At the time I felt hurt, pretty badly as this person had become a very good friend. Now as more and more weeks have passed I look back and just think 'What a pathetic end to lovely friendship'. Of course I'd still like to hear back from this author, I deserve to know why such hostile measures were taken against a positive-but-not-perfect review, but I doubt I ever will. I realised through this experience that I deserve respect for what I do. Afterall, I take my own spare time to read somebody's book and then write a review. The review writing process takes me between half to one hour from start to finish. I take time to write my reviews and they are done for free so shouldn't I be treated with a little respect? At least enough respect to say 'Goodbye, I don't like you reviewing my books, I don't want to be friends'?

What do you think? Should book reviewers be treated with respect given that most of them do this for free? Are you an indie author, would you treat a reviewer with respect even if they gave your work some criticism? At what point does a review with criticisms become a negative review? As a reader do you welcome criticisms in reviews, or do you prefer to hear just how great a book is? Any views on this topic are most welcome so please comment. If you are unable to comment due to website issues please follow the link to my blog and comment there. - All comments welcome you don't need to log in to comment.

 

To view the blog post that inspired this article: https://happymeerkatreviews.wordpress.com/2016/05/25/when-constructive-criticism-lost-friendship-a-sad-but-true-story/