Dear Miss Snark,
My quandary: A writer friend, "Vicky" (not her real name) whom I've never met personally but have known online for nearly 2 years and have exchanged critiques with, has self-published her second novel.
Vicky is not your typical self-publisher. She's the real deal, and her first book sold well enough that it's amazing (not to mention discouraging) that no traditional publisher picked up her second.
So what's my problem? I reviewed Vicky's first book on Amazon and gave it 5 stars where it probably deserved 4, just because (a) she's my friend, (b) I admired what she'd done, producing and marketing a high-quality book virtually on her own, and -- okay -- (c) I wanted to sow some good karma.
The first book had some copyediting issues, but I'd seen the same issues in traditionally published books, so I looked the other way and didn't mention them in my review.
Well... book number two suffers from a lack of copyediting so profound that I'm frequently "pulled out of the story" by howlers of word misuse and bad grammar. It's like Vicky got over-confident and/or was too rushed to give this one a thorough proofread, and perhaps didn't recognize the need for a professional copyedit.
Vicky has asked a large group of her writer friends -- me included -- to buy the book, read it, and post reviews on Amazon. In checking the book's page there, I see a handful of us have already complied -- all 5 stars, and no one has mentioned the sloppy editing. But I have this perverse sense of honesty that says I can't lie to prospective book buyers.
For character, story and prose style, I would give Vicky even higher marks for book two than for book one. But there's no excuse for sending a book to press with the type and volume of errors this one suffers from, and I'm both disappointed in and embarrassed for her.
I bought the book, and I read it. That's two out of three. But I'm in a real bind with this request for a review, and my question is: WWMSD?
(A) Write another 5-star review and just don't mention the errors (lie by omission)
(B) Write a truthful, 4-star review, briefly noting the problems (and hope Vicky isn't too offended)
(C) Ignore the request and do nothing (and hope Vicky isn't too offended)
(D) None of the above
One of the Many Faithful
Some years back Grandmother Snark took several business associates to dinner. The service stank. Late, cold, sloppy ... you name it. She was horribly embarrassed but determined not to pull out her derringer and right the wrongs that make the whole world scream. She merely paid the bill, left no gratuity, collected her parasol and poodle from the coat check and departed with her clients to flag a cab.
The waiter chased her onto the street to berate her for the lack of a tip. (Hint: do not berate women of certain age armed with parasols). Grandmother Snark does not use foul language but you can rest assured that poor waiter retired from the fray with little of his genitalia intact. I believe her business associates signed the contract offer on the hood of the taxi, too terrified to negotiate further.
I tell you this to illustrate that a review, like a tip, must be given freely. You are under no obligation to tip a surly waiter, nor to review a book you don't care to.
I choose option C.
If Vicky is offended, tell her Grandmother Snark will be happy to write your review for you.