Saturday, November 15, 2008

Faith 'n Fiction Saturday - Reviewing

My friend Amy is the host for Faith 'n Fiction Saturday. If you're interested, check it out here.
Today's question is: do you receive review copies of Christian books? If so, do you review them honestly? How do you handle it when you don't like a book but are obligated to provide a review? Who do you see your first commitment being to in book reviewing (besides God)? Yourself? The author? Your readers? Does your review change based on the spiritual content of the book or is it solely based on technical or artistic merit? Have you ever had a negative experience with an author after giving them a negative review? (please don't name names)

My Answer:
I am honest--in my life and in my reviewing. I receive Christian books to review, and I have had books that aren't "WOWers." However, I believe that there is something positive about every work I read, so when I come across one that falls into that category, I look for the good in it. I state the weak points, but highlight those good points so that people can make their own informed choices.

"To thine own self be true," is an axiom I believe and after God, I am committed first to myself. One book promised to be Christian, but as I began reading, I quickly discovered that it expressed the opposite of Christian beliefs. In fact, it was quite confrontational. I knew that there would be no way that I could recommend that work. I did not finish reading it, and I will not review it. I feel that I did the author a favor by not writing THAT review!

I have authors email me with happy comments about my reviews, and one author, who did not receive a stellar review emailed to inquire. This was handled in a professional manner and not at all confrontational. I was happy to give her my reasons; she claimed that this discussion helped her grow as an author.

I look forward to reading your answers.

10 comments:

Marvin D. Wilson said...

On the same page with you, Sally. I've also had communication "off-loop" with authors who received less than 5 star reviews from me, and it's always been congenial with the author taking the criticism as worthy of consideration for growth.

crittyjoy said...

:o) I so agree with you...and I love that there is always something good to find in a book even when we do not like it very much.

Blessings.

M. C. Pearson said...

I also used that quote about honesty!

Sunny said...

Yes! I think it's good to let readers decide for themselves if they think they will like it or not. Bashing seems to close that door, but honestly saying what you did and didn't like is helpful.

kalea_kane said...

I think you can always handle things professionally, and certainly I imagine an author can learn a lot from all reviews when done in a professional manner. :) Great answers and quote. :)

Kim said...

This is very insightful. Like you, I feel like I have to give my true response. My reviews are useless if they don't reflect my true feelings about the work!

ladystorm said...

Great answer. It is always great to be honest, but nice about it.

Wendi B. - Wendi's Book Corner ~ Rainy Day Reading in Seattle said...

I completely agree with what you've said. I haven't found a book yet that I couldn't find a few good things to share along with the not-so-good. Just because I didn't like the book doesn't mean the next person won't.

:) Wendi

I've got mine up late . . .
Here
is my Faith 'n Fiction Saturday post.

Lindsey said...

"I believe that there is something positive about every work I read, so when I come across one that falls into that category, I look for the good in it. I state the weak points, but highlight those good points so that people can make their own informed choices."

I agree - everyone is different and although I do like to give my opinion on/reaction to a book, I try to give both positive and negative points. Sometimes I worry that I might not have been particularly impressed with a book because I'm too distracted or something - I have a six-month-old daughter and I can be pretty scatterbrained! lol

Here's my answer: http://kindredthought.blogspot.com/2008/11/faith-n-fiction-saturday-on-sunday.html

Wyn said...

Good answer but I was wondering about the one that you didn't review. Is it better to not review than to say it wasn't what I thought it would be and leave it at that? I'm a new reviewer and I like to find out what other reviewers are thinking. Have a great week.