So today I want to talk about something which has recently happened to me and at the end I’d really like your opinions on this subject, whether good or bad, I’d really like to open a discussion to all writers, artists and well, anyone who has an opinion…
Since becoming a reviewer and more importantly a book reviewer I’ve had the amazing chance of meeting lots of people, especially authors, many of whom I’ve come to call friends. After reviewing a book for one author we started chatting and found we had a lot in common and as a result, like many internet friendships, we would chat, email, etc.
Like with many authors I’ve met I also tried to help them, I introduced them into the world of wordpress, helping to create a skeleton of a website (they really were clueless at first), helped them set up a goodreads profile and every now and then I pointed out a good website or blog post as they did for me.
Me being a reviewer this author still wanted me to review their latest book. Of course there’s always the thought that you shouldn’t get friends to review for you, but I am professional when it comes to my reviews and this author wanted to have my opinion on their latest book. In fact I was told ‘Whether you do or don’t like it, I’d still like you to tell me what you think’. So I duly read the novel and at the end, rather than just reviewing it, I talked to my author friend first.
The novel was good, very good, but I personally felt something was lacking in part of the writing and so I told them that I preferred their other novel (the first one I’d read from them a while back) and would give this one a 4 star rating if I was to publically review it. This clearly had a negative impact on this author who decided not to speak to me via email, messages, etc. for several days, throwing me out of admin controls of their website at the same time.
I’ll admit I was both shocked and a little upset by this behaviour. I hadn’t even told my friend what it was that made the book a 4 rather than a 5 star for me and I actually wanted to help them improve their novel pre-release. But they just didn’t want to speak to me.
A few days later though they seemed to come around, and conversation returned to normal. I still hadn’t told them what it was that I didn’t quite like about their book, but I let them know I could elaborate if they wanted to know, I didn’t want to push the subject any further. After a day or two I had just created my first facebook page for my site and we were joking about how many fans there are of meerkats on facebook. Little did I know that this was the last conversation I would have with this person.
The next day I had my accident with my eye. I went into hospital and lost vision in one eye due to a horrible bleeding in my left eye (more on that can be read in my post titled Doctor’s Don’t Always Know Best… ). I had sent a message to this author who was my friend and who had called me a good friend, telling them of my accident, however I heard nothing from them. I didn’t consider it a big deal until I read an email from them that came in the same time I was in hospital, a strange email that was very cold, virtually said nothing but that they ‘didn’t want to know what it was about the book that I didn’t like and didn’t want to know how it could be improved’ While everyone else on wordpress here were sending their messages of support for me, this was the only correspondence I got from this author. I tried contacting them again but I’ve never received a reply and can only guess my email address and other communications have been blocked.
While this was only ever an internet friendship, it is still sad to see any friendship you have with someone dissolve and especially in this way. While I could be upset or mad at this person for the way they spoke to me, they were very negative about my latest review despite the good things I said, and their apparent apathy towards someone who’s been in an accident, but I’m not. I don’t feel upset at them, I’m not angry at them, I just have a sense of sadness over what happened.
Of course the review may not be the only reason for this cold distancing behaviour. Maybe I upset them with something else I said, although honestly I really have no idea what it could be. Whatever it is that is making this author ‘friend’ act like a donkey towards me just doesn’t matter anymore, however I am left with some questions and I’d like your help if you can take the time to comment.
Firstly there’s the constructive criticism. When is constructive criticism constructive and when does it turn into just criticism? If anyone’s a writer or artist out there, how much critique would you actually like to hear about your work? Of course nobody wants to hear someone telling them they didn’t enjoy their book, but we all have different tastes and differ opinions on what makes a novel good or bad so what are your views on criticism? Same question for anyone who’s ever created something, how much criticism would you say is constructive and how much would you be willing to hear, if any?
The second point is a personal one and it’s about the reviews I wrote for this author friend. Should I keep the reviews up on amazon for this author’s books? Of course the professional in me says yes. But I am human and part of me wonders if I should take them down or at least the latest one? If this was a straightforward review for a stranger I’d have no issues with that stranger hating my review, but this was someone who called me a good friend and who acted extremely ungrateful for the 4 star review I had posted (even though they told me to post it). And so please what do you think I should do with these reviews?
So to make it clear and open up a discussion:
Do you welcome constructive criticism? When does constructive criticism just become criticism?
Should I delete one or both reviews?
Please comment whether you’re a wordpresser or not, all comments are welcome and I’d really like to hear your thoughts. Thank you!