A writing acquaintance and I exchanged info earlier, plus did a little shameless self promotion for our books. Why waste an opportunity, right? Later that day, I swung by Amazon to pick up a copy of one of their* works. So, I picked up and started reading.
A sinking feeling piled in my gut as I read. It was horrible. Unbelievably pretentious, flat, and read like a rough draft. And yet, I have no idea where to go from here.
This person and I have been chatting on and off now for a while, and they’d most certainly notice if I gave them a bad rating. (I’d wondered if maybe I could stretch the review up to 2.5, and therefore let it be rounded up to 3 stars, but I just can’t do that. It’s dishonest, plus is a higher rating than I’d feel comfortable giving.)
I know most people would say to suck it up and just review the book. However, I’ve had bad experiences with reviewing indie authors work before where they come back and trash my books. (See my post about Perpetual Five-Year Olds.)
No option seems particularly great here. I could:
1.) Finish the book but never review it, thereby being dishonest to other readers by not speaking up. (I typically ALWAYS review the books I read.)
2.) Finish the book, give it an honest review, and risking ruining a relationship with a new writer friend and/or risking my books getting trashed.
3.) Not finish the book at all. This one is also strange to me because. . . well, I don’t really ever abandon books. In my entire life, with the hundreds of books I’ve read, I’ve abandoned maybe 5. Plus, I feel like this is dishonest too because I should still let other potential readers know. Silly as it may sound, I’m a book reviewer dang it, and it’s my self-appointed job to let others know if I think something is worth a darn or not.
So, what do you all do when a friend’s published book sucks? Do you review it? Or do you not say anything at all? Why/why not? Have you every experienced negative backlash because of it?
(*Yes, I’m using “their” for just one person in order to mask their gender. Don’t be pedantic!)