Open Book Blog Hop. I’ve started…….

Welcome to another Bloghop, here’s this week’s prompt.

Why would you, as an author/reader, abandon (stop reading) someone else’s book?

A bit of a contentious one this week. Warning, there may be a small rant!

Personally, I try to complete every book that I start. There’s a saying in England, from a quiz show called Mastermind, “I’ve started; so I’ll finish.”  

Let me tell you a story (It’s what I do).

I once had a review that was less than flattering. Never mind which book. Fair enough, I can take it.

I thought, when I saw the stars, that I might get some useful critique. On reading the review, I was surprised and disappointed to find that the reviewer’s opinion was based on the fact that he hadn’t finished the book, and based on the quality of one sub-plot. He hadn’t read it all, yet still felt capable of telling me what was wrong with it. While I respect the fact that the reader is always right, it struck me that it’s difficult to reach a conclusion based on incomplete data.

I got about halfway through before giving up, he said. Around halfway through the protagonist encounters a woman, and it is immediately obvious they will end up together. he added.

Well, I’m sorry but by not finishing; you don’t know if they will. There is the possibility that they hate each other. She might be an assassin sent to slit his throat, or he could do the same to her. OK, that’s a bit extreme but you get my drift. Or, their paths may never cross again, he could spend the rest of his life searching for her.

In my opinion, by not finishing and finding out what happens, he invalidates his review of the book as a whole. Why post a review celebrating the fact that you didn’t finish reading the book and claim that you’ve managed to guess the plot? Isn’t the whole point to tell other prospective readers what to expect?  Just because you didn’t like the first half, someone else might.

I would care more about what he thought if he had actually read to the end or had some thoughts on the rest of the story, the plot, location, where I could improve things, etc.

Don’t get me wrong, you’ve paid your money, you’re entitled to tell me that it’s rubbish; all I ask is that you do me the courtesy of making sure that it’s ALL rubbish before you say so. The second half might have been fantastic, the highlight of your reading year. Now you’ll never know.

Now, you could say that I’ve got it all wrong, that it’s my book that’s at fault, not the reviewer. That I’m arrogant and deluded. And you’d have a point; if that book (and my writing in general) had lots of reviews like that. The trouble is, just saying, didn’t finish or it was obvious gives me no clues, I can’t address any issues in my writing if I don’t know WHY!

If you didn’t finish reading and you feel the need to tell the world, give us all a clue to the reason.

Calming down and returning to the subject,

as an author and reviewer, I consider it my job to finish reading before going public and telling everyone what I think. While I admit that it can sometimes be a bit of a slog, it’s very rare to find a whole book with NO redeeming parts in it. And a review can still say that it’s a good book, even if you didn’t like it personally. There will always be something positive you can describe, which might just lead someone else to discover their new favourite author. And that’s just as important as anything else.

I respect the effort that goes into writing a book, after all, I do it myself and I think it’s fair to say that no writer sets out to write a bad book. Because, at the end of the day, it’s all tremendously subjective, not everyone likes everything (nor should they).

Things like the odd spelling or grammar mistake can be overlooked, they certainly wouldn’t stop me finishing; I’m a man who failed English at school (twice), so I understand. Every book has one or two, even the most carefully edited, traditionally published book. Although I would prefer a well-edited manuscript, on a basic level enjoyment is all about the story. If I’m turning pages as fast as I can, if I’m in another world and immersed in the action, I can forgive the odd typo. Whilst I might privately contact the author and suggest that there are faults, I won’t give up for that.

I try not to limit myself to any particular genre, I’m attracted to a book by the cover or the back blurb. If it interests me then I’ll give it a go, whether it’s zombies vs dinosaurs or historical fiction. As a writer who dabbles in several genres, I think it does a reader good to get out of their comfort zone once in a while and try something different.

And that’s where the Indie World comes in. Look in any bookshop and you’ll find lots of similar titles, riding the latest trend, variants on what’s selling at the moment, as decided by the book-stores buyers, based on the advice of the publishers. And they are very often more concerned with what will sell and make them a profit.

Indie World is different, we write because we love it, and there is nobody to tell us what we can or can’t publish. If I want to do zombies vs Dinosaurs, no problems, there’s nobody to tell me that they won’t take a chance on it because it won’t sell. And with the power of advertising on social media, you’ll find your fans.

Once again, I’ve digressed,

the simple answer is, if I’ve selected your story to read, it’s because it appeals to me. I’ll read it, to the end. And I’ll tell you honestly, what I thought.

What do you think, should you read to the end, if you don’t like it?

Should you post reviews that say didn’t finish?

Am I wrong?

I love discussion and polite debate, let me know by commenting below.

I’ll be back on Thursday with another Showcase post, featuring an Indie Author with something to say. Please click the links to see the other great blogs on this hop.

17 Responses

  1. Jack Eason

    The reader is not always right Richard. They may delude themselves into thinking they know best. Nine times out of ten they don’t…

  2. Stevie Turner

    Well done for always finishing a book. Sometimes it needs great determination to do this, which obviously reading your blog I realise I’m a bit short of!

  3. Richard Tearle

    I admit I don’t finish everything I read for review, but there is usually a very good reason for that and is along the guidelines laid down by our mutual ‘boss’. Sometimes, when the author is notified that no review will be forthcoming, they come back and ask why not and I am quite happy to give feedback. I know of three books that have been rewritten or adapted and have been resubmitted and been given a positive review.
    As for bad public reviews, I swear these two are genuine:
    1)”The only reason for a one star is that there is no facility for No stars.” The stumbling point was the amount and degree of violence early on and the reviewer only got to P 80 before condemning it – the book had 800 pages! I actually recommended this book for BotM and it was the runner up!

    2) “I didn’t like the first book (of two) so I didn’t read this one. One star”

    Like you, we reviewers have to be encouraging and constructive where we are providing a service (rather than having bought a book we regret buying). but we must also be honest. You can’t do that on half a book!

    We cater mostly for Indie authors and I have to say that so many of them are far better than the ones you see stacked on the shelves of Smiths or Waterstones!!!

    • Richard Dee

      I hardly ever read anything that’s not Indie now, as I said in my post, there is so much more variety. For one thing, the authors all write what they want, rather than what’s popular. And the quality is as good, if not better.
      Providing reviews for blog tours and review sites is a tremendous privilege and responsibility, constructive criticism can be as important as praise.

      • Timothy Bateson

        That flexibility to write what we want is what makes us passionate about our work. And having proof-read for some authors, and being a reviewer, I honestly think it shows in the final product. It also helps that we have control over revisions, so we can fix problems that readers find.

        • Richard Dee

          That’s very true, you can have a new, corrected version on sale in minutes.

  4. Lela Markham

    I’ve had those reviews. One fella really trashed my depiction of a single military unit not being the good guys. He didn’t say anything about the rest of the book, so I’m assuming he didn’t read it. He’s entitled to his opinion, but he should base it on the whole book and not the little bit he read.

    Generally, if I stop reading a book, I don’t review it.

    • Richard Dee

      Agreed. Some reviews are so obviously based on only reading the first 50 and last 10 pages.

    • Timothy Bateson

      I have to admit I generally won’t review books I don’t finish. It’s not fair to the author, or potential readers to present a review that doesn’t take the entire story into account.

  5. Amy Miller

    I can’t stand reviews when a reader hasn’t finished, either. I don’t think you should comment if you haven’t given it a fair chance. Also, I’ve read terrible reviews that pointed out flaws that didn’t exist. If they had been actually paying attention, they would have caught on.

    I have left one bad review of a book I didn’t finish, but it was over style, not plot.

    • Richard Dee

      I’m with you there. I would rather a review that said “did not finish” than one that was misleading or just plain wrong.

  6. P.J. MacLayne

    I try to learn from bad reviews. But I also know that there are folks out there who will down vote a book without even reading it. (How do you rate a book that hasn’t been released yet?) If I feel someone has put effort into a story and I just didn’t like it, I’d rather not leave a review at all rather than give a bad one.

    • Richard Dee

      I think that one bad review doesn’t make a bad book, in a way a bad review that offers constructive advice is a good review.

  7. DGKaye

    I’m with you Richard, why post about a book you didn’t finish and didn’t even understand the concept because you didn’t finish! I hate those reviews that don’t add any meaning to what the book is actually about.

    • Richard Dee

      Yes, I respect the readers right to review and say what they think. But I think that they have responsibilities too, that includes reading the whole book.

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