A few weeks ago I talked about the difference between critiques and reviews. The main point was that a critique is trying to help a writer improve a work in progress while a review is simply honest thoughts about what the author has asserted to be a finished work (assumed by the fact it's published, publishing before you're ready is a whole different topic).
The topic came up because I am known to write harsh reviews. I got a lot of interesting feedback on this from my writer peeps. I was surprised by the number of people who won't say anything negative on a review. I'm all for the loving, supportive community writers have created. But I think we might be hurting ourselves in an attempt to not hurt each other.
This was really brought to the spotlight by a recent article from Kim Strickland. In her article, Kim bashes Publishers Weekly for writing negative reviews. Her main complaint is that the authors of the books reviewed won't be able to salvage a single half-line to use for promotional purposes. This absolutely blew my mind.
Despite the review picking holes in most of the major components of these books, Strickland wants to be able to pull out five or six words to stick on a back cover so it appears that PW gave the book a good review. False advertising at its finest.
I just don't get this. Honestly, I really gave it some serious thought. If I bought a toaster oven that broke after three uses, I would write a bad review for the product on the company website. Hopefully this would do two things. First, it would disuade another consumer from paying good money for a product that didn't live up to expectations. Second, I would hope the company, upon seeing this review, would go back to the drawing board in an attempt to make a better toaster oven.
And some authors are doing this. I'll point to Emlyn Chand. I picked up her book Farsighted a few months ago. It was pretty good although not something I'll put on my favorites list. Ms. Chand received several excellent reviews for her novel although some reviewers poked some big holes in it (In case you're curious, I gave her three stars). So Ms. Chand went back to work. Despite getting ready to put out the next book in the series in May, Emlyn took the time to offer a free update to her book. She stated the update was based on feedback she received in reviews. To that I say "Kudos, Ms. Chand".
Getting bad reviews didn't slow her down or make her think the series was doomed. Instead she took the opportunity readers gave her to make the book better. I'll be honest. I originally had no intention of reading the next book in the Farsighted series. But now I have a feeling that this book could be even better than the first. Why? Because Ms. Chand is the kind of writer who strives to be better. In fact, I think you should believe that to. If you haven't checked out Farsighted yet, you can get it here. And be on the lookout for the next book, Open Heart.