As you know, I review books by Indie authors as often as I can. I don’t charge for those reviews because I do not want compensation to provide a positive bias – I will review honestly or not at all. There are several ways that I handle this delicate situation gingerly. If I’m doing a review for a newbie author and find that there are glaring errors in content, grammar, perspective, etc… I’ll write an email to the author explaining my findings (usually followed by an offer to edit, for which I do charge), rather than slaying their work in a public forum thereby crushing the creative spirit. If an established author requests a review, and I’m inclined to give them a lower rating, I generally email them an advanced copy of the review and give them the option of whether or not they still would like me to publish.
Writing is sharing a piece of your soul – throwing it out there with glorious abandon for all the world to see. While it is certainly not my place to throw my fellow authors under the bus in regard to their effort, I do endeavor to provide constructive criticism to assist them in their journey. I have been enriched by the comments and suggestions of others in regard to my own work and it is indeed a privilege to be able to share such guidance. When giving balanced criticism, I provide examples and specifics that I feel had an impact on overall enjoyment and/or presentation. I’m fully aware that there are books that I enjoy that others may not, and even when I read genres outside of those which I typically prefer, I judge them on the merits of writing and content, objectively gauging the overall quality.
I’ve recently observed the train wreck of an author who was so put out by observations made regarding his or her work (by someone other than me), that he or she went on a vindictive rampage on every social media site to which he or she belongs. Unfortunately, the criticisms to which this author objected were more than valid and the author in question came off seeming unduly bitter. While pain at being criticized is entirely understandable, I always try to draw from the criticism the tidbits of info that will help me to become sharper, more accomplished and ultimately better at my craft. It is my hope that anyone on the receiving end of an honest review would do the same.