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Unwilling Critic Concerned About Friendship

Dear Miss Michelle,

I’m stuck in an unpleasant situation. My friend is a self-proclaimed writer. She believes she will be the next greatest author such as H.P. Lovecraft or J. K. Rowling. She gave me her book to review.

It’s…. bad. I mean…. really, really BAD. The story isn’t really a genre I like to read. So I know I’m a bit biased with my opinion in that factor. But, the story is poorly written. There are typos and grammar mistakes and so many changes of POV that my mind is reeling.

My friend keeps emailing me waiting for a review on sites like Amazon and Goodreads. Yet, I can’t in all honesty give her a good review. It would be fake to just boost her sales and get other unwitting people to purchase the book.

What can I do? I don’t want to ruin our friendship.

Confused Critic in Colorado

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Dear Confused Critic in Colorado,

Yeah, most people nowadays have been in your shoes. We have that one friend that believes anybody can write a great piece of fiction by stringing a bunch of words together. They don’t understand plots, story arcs or editing their work.

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Anybody can get their book self-published now. What most people don’t ask themselves is whether or not they should be publishing their book. Is the story ready? Have they edited and revised to ensure the book is polished to perfection? Did they get someone else to read the book first who can give constructive criticism to make the story better?

Most people don’t do any of these things. They write out the story and get it published. Then they sit back wondering why nobody wants to purchase it. So they talk their friends and family into reading the book and posting positive reviews to spark public interest.

Can you find anything good to talk about in this book? If not, you could just bow out of giving any type of review. Email your friend and tell her you simply can’t give one because you don’t really like the genre. So the storyline is confusing to you.

If you think your friend can handle the criticism (and they plan on publishing more books), you might want to send her a personal email about her book. Point out the problems in the friendliest manner possible. Tell her you are giving this advice so she can become a better writer and reach her dreams of success.

Also, take note that reviews — even bad ones — can have an impact on a author receiving or keeping a publishing contract.

Publishers want people to buy books. Publicity of those books helps build buzz. Even if a person writes a bad review, it shows that the person purchased the book and are aware of the author as they may purchase another book from them in the future. If there are no reviews for a book, an author can actually lose their publishing contract or a chance to get a contract.

Publishers really don’t care if the reviews are bad or good. They just care that the author is getting reviews so other people will hear more about the author and pick up the book so they can read the story and judge it for themselves.

So if you do plan to leave a review for your friend’s book, just leave an honest one.

Miss Michelle

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