If I read a book I don’t like, chances are good I’m not going to post an online review of the book. The philosophy has nothing to do with the old adage ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say’. Instead, it’s about professional courtesy. As an author, I don’t feel right posting a bad review of the work of one of my peers. I think writers have a responsibility to support one another, especially if they’re independent writers.
Last week, I bought a book from an author I’d read before. The author was offering the first four books of her five book series in one package for only ninety-nine cents. That price, combined with the fact that I’d read the author before, piqued my interest.
Unfortunately, the books went from terrible to worse than terrible. The characters were poorly developed and shallow. The plot was sound but it wasn’t well developed. The way the characters treated one another, the male lead in particular, was deplorable. There were times when I actually cringed at how terribly this man behaved while professing to love this woman. Take the scene where he blindfolds her, telling her that he’s going to take her on a surprise date and instead takes her to a crowded bar and has her hike her skirt and ride him in the middle of the bar. Why? Because he wanted the bartender, who’d expressed an interest in the female lead, to see that she was off limits. And she actually forgave the SOB for this! Forgave him! Now, do you see why I cringed?
The further I read into the series, the angrier I became. Eventually, I cut my losses and gave up reading. I thought about posting a scathing review of the book, but I didn’t want to disparage a fellow author. The thing that was bothering me the most was that the author is a NY Times bestselling author. If this is why she made the list, it’s more than disappointing. It’s frustrating.
I don’t think I’m a great writer. I think I’m good. I’m a solid writer who continues to develop her craft. If you compare my earlier works to my current works, you can see improvement. Well, I can anyway. The fact that something so demeaning to women and poorly developed could make a bestseller list and I can’t quite honestly pisses me off.
I felt so strongly that I started to think this was nothing more than good old fashioned jealously. The other author did the same thing I did. She wrote a book, offered it for a low price and promoted it. The difference was that she had the means to reach a wider audience so she made the bestseller list. There was nothing wrong with her work. I was simply arrogant enough to think I was better or at least her equal and deserved the same honor.
Despite telling myself this, I couldn’t shake how much I hated the book. It struck such a strong chord with me that I broke down and got online to check out what other readers were saying. Normally, I don’t do that. Book tastes are unique so I don’t like to allow myself to be influenced by the opinions of others. In this case, I’d already read and despised the book so I felt it was justified.
And do you know what I found? There were a significant number of one star reviews for this book. Many readers felt as I did about the plot and the characters and the writer’s mechanics. After I saw that, I felt a small amount of vindication. I knew I wasn’t the only one who hated that book! It’s comforting, but the disappointment is still there.
No matter how we all feel about this book or this author, she’s already made the bestseller list. No one can take that away from her, nor do I want to. I just want my piece of the action!