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Advice > What do you do when a story is not for you?

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message 1: by Tia (new)

Tia Tormen (tiatormen) | 8 comments I recently told an author that I would read their book for review. I received the ebook and started reading. About six chapters in I found that I wasn't reading anymore because the story just wasn't interesting to me--just not my cup of tea.
I wrote the author and apologized and told them that the story just wasn't for me. I also made sure I said that I deleted all the material from my system and reader. It was a bit curt, but I honestly had no idea what to say.
How do others handle a situation like this?
Tia


message 2: by T.L. (new)

T.L. Clark (tlcauthor) | 78 comments Oh dear. I hate this and it's really awkward.

If I've committed to review a book (i.e. the author is aware) I try to carry on. I generally only pick things in my favoured genres. If I don't like the actual story I try to read the book objectively; is it well written?

If I really hate it and cannot possibly continue, yes, I'd have to email the author and apologise refusely, making sure it's clear the book just wasn't to my taste as opposed to be any slur on their writing ability.

xx


message 3: by E.M. (new)

E.M. Swift-Hook | 2608 comments Mod
I think it is very hard if you find you have an active aversion to a story. Myself, I could never give a fair review to hard core horror or erotica as I literally feel revulsion reading them. This is a major reason why I am pleased to find the groups here are able to be a little bit specialist.

However, if it is just a matter of the story not being your genre I think this thread offers very good advice.

Hope that helps.


message 4: by Emma, Group Admin (new)

Emma Jaye | 4039 comments Mod
inside this group, I'm afraid you'd have to plough on, as everyone agrees to read and review.
Outside the group, it is indeed a tricky one. but personally, a polite note, telling the author the problem you had with it, would probably be very useful.


message 5: by E.M. (new)

E.M. Swift-Hook | 2608 comments Mod
Emma wrote: "inside this group, I'm afraid you'd have to plough on, as everyone agrees to read and review."

Quick question here - in the extremely unlikely event that one really can not manage to read a book in a review group - because of a fundamental issue that would obviate the ability to give a fair review, rather than from finding it too dull or whatever - is it alright to allow someone else - a friend perhaps - who likes the genre to read it instead and write the review?

I don't see this arising in my case, though I suppose it conceivably could, but it might help others to know if they find themselves squashed up against such an issue ever.


message 6: by Emma, Group Admin (new)

Emma Jaye | 4039 comments Mod
As long as the book is read and reviewed, and there isn't any reciprocity involved, I wouldn't have a problem with that. We have had 'stand-in' reviewers found by individual authors on a number of occasions.


message 7: by Joe (new)

Joe Jackson (shoelessauthor) This comes up sometimes in the review groups, but when it does, I push through and try to look at the book from the perspective of someone else who would enjoy it. What are its strengths and weaknesses as they might see them? I'll include a bit of my own opinion, but if it's just a genre/interest thing, I try not to let that override what's there.


message 8: by Rafael (new)

Rafael (rafaelnyc) | 115 comments Perhaps you might consider reducing the problem's incidence. Ask potential reviewee's to submit their Amazon URL's along with their requests. The book's 'look inside' feature, its blurb, and whatever existing reviews might influence you, should provide a better filtering position. Make it clear you will only respond to those book's you find intriguing.

No guarantees, however. Often it's important to deal with life's unpleasantries. It strengthens and deepens appreciation for its wonders.


message 9: by Annie (new)

Annie Arcane (anniearcane) | 31 comments Hmm. As a reader, I would be pretty cognizant of authors' feelings. I'd just suck it up and finish the book, then rate and review keeping in mind that it's not my genre of choice or whatevs (because I don't think that's deserving of a low rating) But on the flip side...

I have a bit of a quirky writing style that's either love-or-hate so I always encourage people to read a preview first. And, hmm, this is gonna totally sound like I'm shooting rainbows outta my butt...

But in all honesty, I would rather readers be happy. When I send a copy for review, I always tell them that I really do hope they enjoy because I wouldn't wanna bestow an unpleasant experience on anyone (or something to that effect). Hopefully, that puts people at ease and they feel comfortable telling me if they just don't wanna finish it. I would 100% understand.

Anyhoo, just my 2 cents *smirks*

Hugs,
Ann

P.S. - Oh! Inside this group, I'd say keep your word and read the book. I mean, if I had any aversions to a certain subject matter or whatnot, I'd disclose that upfront. :)


message 10: by E.M. (new)

E.M. Swift-Hook | 2608 comments Mod
Rafael wrote: "No guarantees, however. Often it's important to deal with life's unpleasantries. It strengthens and deepens appreciation for its wonders."

I think this is an excellent point. Often one or two graphic scenes in a book can be powerful and pivotal.

There is a big difference between that and a book based cover to cover on such things, which some people thoroughly enjoy, but others do not find at all entertaining. At that point, if you fall in the second category, it is impossible to do justice to such a book and it is then unfair to both the author and the reviewer to force the issue. All IMO, of course.


message 11: by Emma, Group Admin (new)

Emma Jaye | 4039 comments Mod
If you join a general group, you have to accept that 'anything goes'. Its part of the experience to embrace genres you wouldn't normally read. If you really don't like graphic scenes, stick to a clean group, its why we started them.


message 12: by Rafael (new)

Rafael (rafaelnyc) | 115 comments Annie wrote "And, hmm, this is gonna totally sound like I'm shooting rainbows outta my butt..."

lmao (forgive the synchronicity)


message 13: by Neil (new)

Neil Carstairs | 670 comments Within this group, you take the chance on what book you'll receive even in a preferred genre. I think if you commit to read and review a book that's what you do. I've gone from chick-lit to heavy sci-fi via a non-fiction memoirs. Some have been engrossing, some haven't. But I've started and finished them because that's what I said I would do.

Do you think people who review for online and print publications like everything they read? Of course they don't, but they have made the commitment to the review and that's what they do.


message 14: by E.M. (new)

E.M. Swift-Hook | 2608 comments Mod
Neil wrote: "But I've started and finished them because that's what I said I would do."

I totally agree. End of the day this is what matters. I think if you make the commitment you see it through.

That said, for most authors keeping such a commitment could never be too hard. By definition to write you must be an avid reader.


message 15: by Rafael (new)

Rafael (rafaelnyc) | 115 comments Neil wrote "...because that's what I said I would do."

Hear, hear. We can't let honor become a quaint, old-fashioned notion.


message 16: by Annie (new)

Annie Arcane (anniearcane) | 31 comments Rafael wrote: "Annie wrote "And, hmm, this is gonna totally sound like I'm shooting rainbows outta my butt..."

lmao (forgive the synchronicity)"


Forgiveness is not necessary, good sir. I embrace that shizz :P

(I swear, I don't really talk like that *grins*)


message 17: by Tia (new)

Tia Tormen (tiatormen) | 8 comments I'm not convinced that holding to the commitment of agreeing to write a review of a book you've never read, and can only base the quality or content of from a blurb the author puts on a website, is the way to handle this.
The blurb looked great! But blurbs can lie. Just because a blurb is well written, doesn't mean the entire book is reflected in that very small sampling of writing.
Based on that blurb, the story sounded like a story that would interested me. What it turned out to be was not a whole lot like the blurb promised.
By the time I got a third of the way through the book, I realized that there was no way I was going to be able to give the author a good review on this book- most of what I had to say about the story was not flattering.
I'm sure there are readers out there that could dive into this type of material, but it just wasn't for me.
So I backed out, because it literally was in the best interest of the author for me not to post my review.

I recently put out a call for beta readers. One of the first things I said in my correspondence was, "If, while reading this story, that you realize this story is not for you, please just let me know. You do not have to feel obligated to continue reading something that does not interest you. No one is going to like everything, even if it may sound good at first glance."

And I will continue to do this. I would rather that the reader is enjoying the story, because it's a type of story that they enjoy reading, rather than hearing later about how they had to struggle through it because they discovered that it was a story that they wouldn't normally read.

Tia


message 18: by Neil (new)

Neil Carstairs | 670 comments In not posting the review you may well have done the author a favour but you have also done other readers a disservice. As mentioned in other places on this group a book is a product and as a consumer I need to know honest views of other consumers (readers). It does sound like the book just isn't very good rather than outside your preferred genre and that makes it more important to finish the book (because it might get better) and write an honest review


message 19: by Tia (last edited Jun 14, 2016 05:09AM) (new)

Tia Tormen (tiatormen) | 8 comments Neil wrote: "In not posting the review you may well have done the author a favour but you have also done other readers a disservice. As mentioned in other places on this group a book is a product and as a consu..."

So what you're saying is, it is better for me to struggle through a book that I have little interest in and then give the book a bad review, based on the fact that the story held little interest for me, than it is to just politely back out and tell the author that the story is not for me?

Just for the record, as far as I could tell (and I did skim read almost to the end) the story didn't get more to my liking as I got closer to the end.
Tia


message 20: by Emma, Group Admin (new)

Emma Jaye | 4039 comments Mod
Beta reading is a very different kettle of fish to reviewing.
Hopefully an author seeking betas would have supplied a blurb for the book, so that possible betas could chose a book they were interested in. Having read the blurb and been enticed to read, to then change their mind means you've got something wrong, either in the blurb, or the book.
A reply of 'it wasn't for me' in that situation would drive me batty, I'd want to know, in as much detail as possible, what the problem was so you don't get 'real' readers DNF-ing the book when it was up for sale and review.
You want people who are going to pick it apart, say what works and far more importantly, what doesn't and why. if you are lucky, you might get some suggestions to make it better, its up to you to heed or discard their advice.


message 21: by K.A. (new)

K.A. Krisko (kakrisko) | 1703 comments Mod
I've read plenty of books in this group that 'weren't for me' and some of them were quite well done. If I'm reading a genre or storyline I wouldn't usually read, and I find that I don't care for it, I concentrate on the basics of writing: are the characters well done? the settings well-described? the plot appropriate and moving forward at a good pace?

Just because you don't care for a book for personal reasons doesn't mean you can't review it fairly. Check the thread here about 'what is a review and how do I write one?'. It's got some suggestions that you can always use, even if you didn't care for the book.

It's fine to mention that it wasn't your thing, but then give the readers of the review some clue as to what it's about and who might like it/dislike it.


message 22: by Darrell (new)

Darrell Nelson | 313 comments I'm weird in that I prefer a review where the reviewer actually read some of my book and had to stop, rather than one where the reviewer skimmed the book and got the entire premise wrong.
Maybe that's because in my previous books I throw in a second or third chapter twist, so I can see if someone skimmed.
Outside the group I think this is fine. Like this review:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-re...
She missed the whole redemption of the characters, but at least she read the book.
Inside the group I have to plow through to the end.
I figure I read Moby Dick twice, I can take anything a writer throws at me.


message 23: by Neil (new)

Neil Carstairs | 670 comments I think the way to look at it is there are no good, average or bad reviews, only honest ones. If we write a review that is honest and explains why we didn't like a particular book then it guides other readers and might prompt some of them to buy the book because our reason for disliking something is there reason for liking it.


message 24: by Tia (new)

Tia Tormen (tiatormen) | 8 comments I wrote the author and asked if they would mind sharing their thoughts on this subject. I felt bad for not following through and wanted to hear if the author had a preference one way or the other.
The author responded that they were happy that I was honest, and they would rather have a reader back out of the review process, than to plow on ahead and not really enjoy what they are reading. Like me, this author understands that not everyone is going to enjoy every book.

I can't see how a review could be considered "honest" if the reader honestly is not enjoy reading the book/story. Then they are just reviewing it because they felt like they had to, because you said you would.
That does not make sense to me. Personally, I would rather have someone come to me and be honest and tell me that the book does not interest them and back out of the review, then to read a dishonest review of my work, because the reader was not into the type of stories I write, but felt like they Had To finish it and write a review, just because they said they would.

In this particular instance, the author that I said I would read and review for, and I, are in agreement and that's what is most important.

Tia


message 25: by Emma, Group Admin (new)

Emma Jaye | 4039 comments Mod
Outside the group, that is certainly your prerogative Tia, but if you were in a review round here on the Review Group, not posting your reviews would result on you being banned from future groups.

Those are the rules that everyone agrees to when they sign up to a group. If we allow members not to post their reviews, the process would fall apart.


message 26: by Knockin' (new)

Knockin' Books (knockinbooks) We've had many authors tell us that they took negative feedback in reviews to heart and used it to improve their future work. I believe that as long as the feedback is constructive, it can be very valuable, even if the review isn't what the author hoped for.


message 27: by Adelise (new)

Adelise (AMCullens) | 29 comments Annie wrote: "Hmm. As a reader, I would be pretty cognizant of authors' feelings. I'd just suck it up and finish the book, then rate and review keeping in mind that it's not my genre of choice or whatevs (becaus..."
I totally feel you, Annie. I am the same way with my writing. Quirky. love/hate.

I do the same thing when I review. Especially if it is not my genre.

Reviewing books is for the reader and not the author, but also, I feel that giving a book a really bad review is like telling someone that their baby is ugly.

hugs xxx


message 28: by Emma, Group Admin (new)

Emma Jaye | 4039 comments Mod
Its a horrible thing to say, but sometimes that baby really is ugly.

however, when it comes to members of this group, I try to prevent complete FUBAR situations, both for the sake of the author, and their reviewers. It's not much fun wading through a 500 page epic if the author pressed the publish button on a rough draft.

I usually try to have a quick look through a book's 'look inside' when a new author signs up to the group just to give the author some advice if a book really isn't ready for publication, particularly if English is not an author's first language.


message 29: by Garfield (new)

Garfield Whyte (garfieldwhyte) I contacted an author recently and said that I will give you a 3 star rating and I gave my reason and asked her if its okay to post it and she said 'No thanks".


message 30: by Garfield (last edited Oct 11, 2016 02:11AM) (new)

Garfield Whyte (garfieldwhyte) Tia wrote: "I wrote the author and asked if they would mind sharing their thoughts on this subject. I felt bad for not following through and wanted to hear if the author had a preference one way or the other. ..."

Not bad reasoning at all Tia... I have very good reviews for a book that had cheating in it.....a few women didnt like it as it rang close to home since their spouses cheated on them as well. Some rated it low because of that and about 3 women emailed me to say they will not complete it because of that.... I think these 3 women were very honest as i didnt like the idea of them being forced to complete a book that had a cheating character since they didnt like that at all in the book despite so many nice things in the story


message 31: by Garfield (new)

Garfield Whyte (garfieldwhyte) E.M. wrote: "Rafael wrote: "No guarantees, however. Often it's important to deal with life's unpleasantries. It strengthens and deepens appreciation for its wonders."

I think this is an excellent point. Often ..."


I totally agree


message 32: by Garfield (new)

Garfield Whyte (garfieldwhyte) Seems based on what the others have to say it is much safer to have readers/reviewers select the book/genre they prefer and that will more likely result in an honest review.


message 33: by Tia (new)

Tia Tormen (tiatormen) | 8 comments Garfield wrote: "Seems based on what the others have to say it is much safer to have readers/reviewers select the book/genre they prefer and that will more likely result in an honest review."

I agree! I only choose books to review that are of interest to me. I don't review books just for the sake of reviewing. However, some books blurbs just aren't enough information to determine what the book is about.


message 34: by Tia (new)

Tia Tormen (tiatormen) | 8 comments Garfield wrote: "I have very good reviews for a book that had cheating in it.....a few women didnt like it as it rang close to home since their spouses cheated on them as well. Some rated it low because of that and about 3 women emailed me to say they will not complete it because of that...."

Exactly! Why make them feel terrible about not finishing a story that is making them uncomfortable.


message 35: by Garfield (new)

Garfield Whyte (garfieldwhyte) Tia wrote: "Garfield wrote: "Seems based on what the others have to say it is much safer to have readers/reviewers select the book/genre they prefer and that will more likely result in an honest review."

I ag..."


Great...would you review my book based on what you read about here?

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3...


message 36: by Garfield (new)

Garfield Whyte (garfieldwhyte) Emma wrote: "inside this group, I'm afraid you'd have to plough on, as everyone agrees to read and review.
Outside the group, it is indeed a tricky one. but personally, a polite note, telling the author the pr..."


I totally agree


message 37: by Garfield (new)

Garfield Whyte (garfieldwhyte) K.A. wrote: "I've read plenty of books in this group that 'weren't for me' and some of them were quite well done. If I'm reading a genre or storyline I wouldn't usually read, and I find that I don't care for it..."

Perfectly said....I have mostly good reviews on this book except for 2 persons who gave me a 1 star, one said she didnt finish reading it and I wonder if its fair to rate a book without even reading half of it...anyway most of the reviews are good so the public can decide for themselves.....am willing to offer it for reviewers to read if they contact me.


message 38: by Hákon (new)

Hákon Gunnarsson | 1 comments I don't review books I don't finish. That is one of my own personal review rules. But if a reader can't finish a book that does say something about it. I'm not saying anything against your book, I haven't read it, but it wasn't for this reader. It is just her reaction to it. So I think it is fair to base the review on that. Reviews are just people's reaction to the books they read. Still, bad reviews aren't pleasant for the author. As an author I know that.


message 39: by Garfield (new)

Garfield Whyte (garfieldwhyte) Hákon wrote: "I don't review books I don't finish. That is one of my own personal review rules. But if a reader can't finish a book that does say something about it. I'm not saying anything against your book, I ..."

I agree with you totally....some time ago I asked if it is fair to review a book which the reviewer has not completed ... I said i didnt think it was appropriate and less than honest as a review gives the impression that the entire book is read and even if the reviewer says he/she didnt read to the end some times that is overlooked......and I was surprised that so many authors here didnt agree with me .... one would think authors would be in agreement with that.


message 40: by Emma, Group Admin (new)

Emma Jaye | 4039 comments Mod
This is all well and good outside of a group such as this. We have to remember that everyone here wears two hats. As an author and as a reader.
As readers, its out job to help out fellow readers (NOT the author) into finding a book they would like to read. This also includes steering them away from a book they wouldn't enjoy. It is perfectly possible to write a review for a book that isn't your favourite genre, or contains a subject you don't like.
We are wordsmiths for goodness sake. You might not like 'cheating' but is it a well written book? So you hate the protagonist, if he/she elicits that emotion, surely the author deserves kudos for writing someone that stirs your emotion rather than 'meh'?

Not all good reviews are 5*. Sometimes a well written one star will bring more readers to your book as the aspects the reader hated, might be just the thing that floats someone else's boat.
MANY more people read the low star reviews before the five star ones. A book with only 5 star reviews is seen as suspicious by many, many readers.
For example my new release has a few DNF or 1 star reviews because the reader considered there to be too much angst. I'm not unhappy about those, there is a LOT of angst. Anyone looking for a sweet, cosy romance will be in for a shock. I don't want those people picking it up by accident.


So my advice, to help your fellow authors, is to post those constructive, informative and KIND low star reviews. if you DNF, say WHY.
Picture yourself as a teacher giving a report to the parents of a difficult child, there is always something good to say along with the not so good. And what one person will hate, another will love.
My new releases are my best sellers by far, even with the one star reviews because people have been steered towards them who would like them.


message 41: by K.A. (new)

K.A. Krisko (kakrisko) | 1703 comments Mod
Well put.


message 42: by Emma, Group Admin (new)

Emma Jaye | 4039 comments Mod
Not reviewing doesn't help the author, or the book's potential readers. One person's meat is another person's poison. What you don't like, another may love.
Even if you DNF, giving the reason why, and the point you stopped is helpful to fellow readers.
All 'good' reviews don't do a book any favours whatsoever, it comes across as fake.


message 43: by Ellie (new)

Ellie Mitchell (elliemitchell) | -2 comments If a book doesn't feel like its for me, I try and read on for a little bit longer in case things change.

When I can't read further, I simply tell the writer this and that it has nothing to do with the quality, but with my interests.


message 44: by T.R. (new)

T.R. Robinson (t_r_robinson) | 26 comments On principle I always endeavour to complete what I start. Of course it is not always easy but self-discipline and perseverance are attributes I believe in. I think society is the poorer for these and other disciplines being in decline. However, that aside, as someone else has already said it is possible to continue reading 'objectively'.

The above is even more important when having undertaken to read and review. Only once did I not publish a review because I thought the content too confusing. Nevertheless, I sent the author a detailed resume of my thoughts. Thankfully they understood.


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