When To Write A Book Review (And When Not…)

I started reviewing books on this website back in October 2013. I have written fourteen reviews to date, encompassing twenty-eight books, and a full archive of them may be found at this link.

In the beginning, my intention was to post a review of every single book I read as I went along. However, I have encountered a stumbling block to this plan for I find myself unwilling to offer up a review of my most recent reading material. This is because it was just that bad. 😦

I don’t wish to name the title or the author, though I will say that it was a trilogy of historical romance novels and I believe that it was self-published. I had been very much looking forward to reading something so closely related to my own chosen genre but I had unfortunately lost that happy feeling by the time I had plodded to the end of the third book.

The overriding issue was the poor quality of editing at every stage, from development to copyediting to proofreading. While I do think there was the germ of a good idea in there, it was squandered by a weak plot, slow pacing and one-dimensional characterisation. Much of the writing came across as amateurish – I am a fan of adverbs but I have never seen two used consecutively so many times, and there was a noticeable overuse of words such as ‘fortunately’, ‘odd’ and ‘even so’, making them seem like get-out-of-jail terms when the author had no other inspiration for linking sentences. There was also a distinct lack of evidence regarding proofreading, with unforgivable errors such as characters being misnamed (for example, I could tell what the author had initially called a character before she subsequently changed their name). Incredibly, these mistakes even carried from within the books to blurbs for the trilogy on various websites. I mean, come on, it’s called attention to detail.

What is so disappointing is that this inadequate standard of editing gives self-publishing a bad name. There is no requirement for self-published works to go through a rigorous editing process before being unleashed to the public but it is imperative that they nonetheless operate at the same level as traditionally-published works; otherwise, readers will be dissatisfied with one poorly-written book and then be unwilling to take a chance on a new author the next time. To have any hope of success, self-publishers must push the quality of their writing to the very best that it can be before unveiling it to the reading world.

Regrettably, that advice is too late for this particular trilogy. However, it is important to remember that this is just one author and one series of books – there are many more fish swimming in the self-publishing sea and they are both striving for excellence and succeeding.

5 thoughts on “When To Write A Book Review (And When Not…)

  1. Amanda MacDonald says:

    People need to take the time to really edit their book. I think handing it off to a few writers to go through and give their opinions is a good idea too. Hopefully the person tries again and improves. A bad book sucks but everyone has to start somewhere, I think I personally would have left a rating stating it needs more editing and maybe one thing you liked about it.


    • Susie Murphy says:

      Every writer does need to start somewhere but not everything they write has to be published, especially if it’s not up to scratch! As you say, giving it to others for their opinion is a really useful thing to do.

      I’ve considered whether to post a rating on Amazon but haven’t decided what to do yet. On the one hand, I don’t want to harm the author’s credibility (being self-published is a tough enough business to begin with), but, on the other hand, maybe I have a responsibility to other potential readers to give an honest account. Mentioning one thing I liked about it would be a good idea – I did feel that the author executed the love scenes reasonably well, so she probably put more effort into them than into the other parts of her books. I’ll have a serious think about it – thanks for your advice, Amanda!


Leave a Reply to Susie Murphy Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.