I have a dilemma and I’d like your help. I have amassed a few of books I can’t finish because I don’t want to spend any more time reading them. Do you want to know about these books? Before you answer, let me explain why I consider it a hard decision.
Here at SFSignal we get a lot of emails from people asking us to review their books. Almost all of the requests are from major publishing houses and are part of the overall book hype machine. I’d like to think I have some integrity and will tell you when I don’t like a book, but disliking a book doesn’t seem to happen that often. Looking back over all the novels reviewed I reviewed so far this year, none have received less than 3 stars. In some ways I believe it goes to my argument that major publishing houses are unlikely to publish a bad book because 1) they have editors who work with the author to polish a book prior to publication and 2) they don’t want to lose money.
But of course, that’s not the whole story.
Update: Folks I owe an apology to the reviewers here on this blog. I did not intend to imply that the people here wouldn’t tell you when they didn’t like a novel. They certainly will and there is a ton of evidence of that here in the archives. I meant this to be about me and my dilemma involving small press/self-published works – not about the other fine folks who review here. I changed the paragraph above to be clearer and (I hope) remove the offensive language (and to be clear, it was offensive – I can only apologize again and humbly state that it was not intentionally so.) – Scott
Some of the book review requests we get are from self-published authors or from very small independent publishers. I have a soft spot for these folks. My mother self-published a non-fiction book a few years back and I know how hard this road can be. As a result, I usually accept these books for review, hoping to find a diamond in the rough (and so far I’ve found one – The Wannoshay Cycle). Unfortunately this is rare, and instead I find myself with several books I can’t even finish because they are simply so poor I don’t want to spend any more time with them. But what do I do about this? Should I even review the books here if I’m going to give them zero stars and announce to everybody that I didn’t like them? It hurts their already small chance of success and what right do I have to do that?
But what do I owe you, the readers of this blog? Do I have a responsibility to warn you about titles I dislike? Is this just the risk the authors took when they invited me to review them?
I’d like to know what you think.