I’ll pose a question then try to give an honest answer. Why do we writers fail to read or review books written by fellow writers?
It’s not a matter of money since most of us have Kindle, and besides, the cost is usually less than 5 dollars—often free if you have Kindle Unlimited. A fellow writer may have even given you a copy, or if they hadn’t, I’m sure they would be happy to provide you with one and would welcome your review. I know I would.
So, why is it we won’t review or don’t comment on our fellow writer’s work? Am I as much to blame as anyone?
After publishing my first book, I’ve realized the cold winter shoulder from friends (some are writers) and family—partly due to politics but not all. The truth is, with the advent of social media, many folks have migrated away from traditional book reading to social media like Facebook and Twitter. At least that’s my experience after having sent out twenty phone texts and IMs to those I assumed would be pleased and interested in reading my memoir. I wasn’t naive enough to think all twenty would respond, but I was optimistically hoping for half that amount. On that count, I was close. I received ten congratulations, and several promised to read and review my book. What I found interesting was the difference between those who responded versus those who chose not to respond. The split was mostly across political party lines—nary a word from those who differed in political opinion. I was disappointed but not discouraged. I did have one good friend who ignored our political differences, and she wrote an excellent review.
I do understand why most fellow authors balk at reviewing others’ work. We writers are too critical of ourselves, and we pass that crucial eye of judgment onto others’ work. We understand the skill set needed for good writing, and quite frankly, most of us fail at our own expectations. It’s challenging to write well, even with the know-how and years of experience. Writing is like singing. We all can sing the words; some of us don’t sound too good. Not bad, necessarily, but not interesting enough to entertain a listener. In this case, the reader.
That doesn’t mean that a non-writer (a reader) would not enjoy the book we may find unworthy of review. Even if not written well, poor grammar or misplaced commas can be overlooked if it’s an interesting story. Most readers will enjoy it for what it is, a quiet moment to listen without much judgment.
In the future, I will be more open-minded when reading friends’ books, and I’m also committing to giving them a good review with encouraging words. After all, I applaud when an unskilled singer belts out a song they love on karaoke night at the local pub. It’s the least we can do for someone who has a passion for singing, writing, or whatever they enjoy. They will, in time, get better. Let’s encourage their journey. If you still feel the need to criticize, try doing it face to face or on a personal note or text.
Steve Schuler— Rock, Paper, Innocence. I welcome your review!
Free on Kindle Unlimited—Mayflyer otherwise 99 cents.