If you wrote a book

What expectations would you have of your friends? That they would…

  • read it
  • read it and review it favourably
  • read it and review it honestly
  • not read it but share/retweet your marketing posts about the book
  • not read it but brag about their friend who wrote a book
  • ask for a free copy
  • expect a free copy
  • buy a copy and read it
  • buy a copy even if they’ve no intention of reading it

These questions arose after I spotted a tweet which said:

“I would like to call a special meeting of friends who rate their friends’ books fewer than 5 stars on Goodreads and ask whyeee?”

(this tweet has been reproduced grammatical errors, weird spelling ‘n all by the way)


I didn’t reply… but I really, really wanted to.

I’ve read a book written by someone I know in real life, and I’ve read books written by people I know online. I’ve reviewed them all honestly, while ensuring I have something favourable to say about each.

My grading policy is fairly straightforward:

5 stars = exceptional / I loved it/was blown away by it
4 stars = very good / I really liked/enjoyed it
3 stars = good / I liked/enjoyed it
2 stars = it was an OK read
1 star = it was pretty rubbish

I know I’m regarded as a tough grader, but then I’m (very) serious about books.

Most of what I read falls into the middle category. I apply the same principle to Indie authors as I would to friends, in that I’m slightly less critical in my grading. For example, I would find it hard to give less than 3 stars to anyone in that category unless what they wrote was truly awful/laden with inaccuracies, but am tougher on established authors who are in no danger of suffering due to my review. Most friends have received 3 stars and a few 4 stars, but I’d never give a book the top score of 5 stars unless I believed it was exceptional. As a result, according to one responder to that tweet, I’m no friend…

I wondered whether the person writing the tweet would pay for positive reviews (yes, that’s a thing). I suspect not, but I also wondered if they realised that they were equating friendship with the currency by which they could buy a 5 star review?

What are your thoughts on the subject – as either the writer or the friend?


© Debra Carey, 2021

13 Comments

  1. alanj2

    A friend who is someone who is able to comment critically and fairly. You can reasonably expect them to read the book carefully. There is no benefit at all in uncritical praise: how else can you grow as a writer?

    Ps: How’s the back getting on?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. LA

    I won’t review the books of friends. Period. I also never give five star reviews to anyone. Ever. Oddly, the post I’m about to write circles this.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. debscarey

    So glad you agree Alan – although not at all surprised 🙂 And your point about the lack of benefit in uncritical praise is precisely how I felt (but didn’t say!)

    PS: vastly improved & back at the keyboard properly this time (hopefully).

    Like

  4. debscarey

    LA, that sounds like one solution, but in the writing community on Twitter, writers rely on one another for (free) early feedback, so loins have to be girded! I’m interested in the lack of 5 star reviews. I’m mean in handing them out for books, but I can’t imagine never giving one on principle. You’re taking my crown as a tough marker! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ally Bean

    I can’t get 99% of my friends interested in reading my blog so I have zero expectations about them reading a book I wrote. In fact if I ever did write a book I think I’d make mention of them, probably not in the most flattering light. As Anne Lamott says [something like]: if you wanted me to write warmly about you, then you should have behaved better.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. LA

    I figure nothing is perfect. I love a pride and prejudice, it might be my favorite book, yet I wouldn’t give that a five either. To me, perfection doesn’t exist. And I totally don’t trust anything that gets all 5 star reviews

    Like

  7. The Widow Badass

    If I ever wrote a book, I’d want my friends/readers to rate it honestly. How am I ever going to get better if I don’t get honest feedback? Likewise I will rate a book honestly, for whatever my opinion’s worth and no matter who wrote it. Authors need to get a bit of a thicker skin and also remember that one person’s opinion is just that. Your book won’t be a hit with everyone.

    Deb

    Liked by 1 person

  8. debscarey

    Deb, I was pretty dumbfounded by the tweet for this exact reason. I’d be thrilled if my friends liked my book (it’s nearly ready), but I don’t *expect* them to. Like the reading community, they’ve got varied tastes, so it’s unrealistic to expect to please everyone. But the most important thing is I want to improve as a writer and I can’t do that without constructive criticism.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. snakesinthegrass2014

    I laughed so hard at the “ask for a free copy</i" one. I must admit I'm a complete and utter wimp on this subject. Fortunately I've had no actual friends write a book, but I've have reviewed two by bloggers I follow, and also one by the son of a former co-worker. The latter I gave four stars (even though it really deserved probably only two) and the bloggers both got five stars from me. I simply didn't have the heart to rate less than that! Now professional authors? I remove all the guard rails. – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

  10. debscarey

    I’m glad you got the humour of that one Marty 😀 I’ve been asked by soooo many people for a (free) copy when I publish that I’ve lost count!

    I think it’s incredibly difficult to give reviews to people you know, so I sympathise. My surprise was more that this author *expected* it.

    Like

  11. debscarey

    Ha ha! I got bored with the old one Ally. Actually, that’s not true. They (the WPress peeps) took away my font and for ages I’ve been feeling grumbly as I don’t like the alternatives. Plus I absolutely refuse to pay even more just to get more font choice. So I fiddled around in canva and for some reason, ended up changing the theme too (I know how to waste time I don’t really have!)

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Ally Bean

    I wondered what had become of you when you didn’t reply to my pervious comment. Had to come looking to find you. My take on templates, fonts, et al, is that it’s not a waste of time to mess around with them if you’re not happy with what you have. Once you get what you like, you’re golden!

    Like

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