The Benefits of a Bad Book Review
by John F. Harnish
There’s no such thing as bad publicity, but there are poor book reviews. Bad publicity is common in today’s media because negative news stories improve ratings that increase the bottom line. Everybody seems to be more interested in bad news than in good news, unless of course, the good news is about them or someone they know. Poor book reviews that are professionally written and based on an objective evaluation by a knowledgeable reviewer, who actually read the book, could be experienced as bad news for the author.
The good news is that many of the professional review services give the author the option of not publishing the unfavorable review to various websites that feature book reviews. This provides the author with control over if or when the review will be released for publication. However, reviews that truly reflect the shortcomings of the book benefit the serious author by objectively showing what needs to be fixed so the author can make their book into a good read. It might come as a bit of a shock for the author to learn from a professional that their book isn’t all that great – especially after hearing from family and friends just how wonderful the book is. Hearing how great their book is, is exactly what every author wants to hear!!!
Beware of subjective comments about your book that are based only on personal opinions. It’s amazing how everyone will suddenly have an opinion about your expressive efforts. One person might say your opening to Chapter 3 seems weak, another might say they like your lead into Chapter 3 and how you built upon it, and another might not even comment about Chapter 3. Don’t put yourself in a position of doing a hasty knee-jerk rewrite by changing this and that and something else in response to subjective remarks. Trying to rewrite to please everybody will drive you crazy!
An objective review points out grammatical faults that, when corrected, improves the readability of the book. It will also focus on what you have written that works well to convey your thoughts to the reader. Now this isn’t a line-by-line edit of your book, but is instead an overview about how your wordsmithing efforts will most likely be perceived. This insight becomes valuable to the author when working with a professional editor to improve the quality of your book.
Don’t allow a bad book review to keep your book from being all that it can be! Think positive by using this objective overview as a springboard to make your book into a really good read. Let go of that ego stuff about your wonderfully self-expressive writing style being uniquely you – there’s nothing wonderful about your readers having a difficult time understanding the story you’re telling. Remember, the first essential quality of a good book is that it be readable.
Image courtesy of Simon Howden.