A note to my real-world friends regarding my books

I have a thing about advice columns.  You may know this about me.  They’re like crack.  I can’t avoid them.  And Dear Prudie dropped this on me today:

Q. I Don’t Like My Friend’s Book: My friend recently self-published his first novel. I bought a copy to support him. I really, really hate to admit it but I didn’t care for it. In fact, I didn’t even finish. I got through half of it before I gave up, read the last couple of pages, and put it down. He needs an editor badly and overall, it just wasn’t well-researched or plotted. In fact, he self-designed the cover in Photoshop. He wants to know if I liked the book, and honestly, I don’t know what to say. On one hand, I don’t want to tear him down because I know how proud he was of writing the book. On the other hand, I feel like he needs to know that he needs to improve on a few things. Is there a way to broach the subject without hurting feelings? Or do I just drop the issue and lie to him?

First things first, actually: don’t buy my book to support me.  Buy my book because you think you might enjoy it.

That said: If you have bought my book to support me, and if upon attempting to read my book you discover you don’t like it, and if I enquire as to your opinion of said book at some point subsequent to your reading it, tell me the truth.  I write science fiction and fantasy.  I am fully aware that my writing is not the preferred genre of any number of my friends even before we get to issues of the quality of my prose.  I need y’all to understand that I live in fear of being an impostor, a fear most writers share.  I would absolutely one hundred percent prefer to know that you didn’t like my writing than to have smoke blown up my butt, and I am more than smart enough to figure it out if you’re trying to be sneaky with your word choices with me.

It will be fine.  I will be fine.  You will be fine.  The phrase you want is “I couldn’t get through it,” or “I couldn’t finish it.”  Say it fast, if you need to; rip the damn Band-Aid off.  I might ask you why, but I probably won’t.  If I do, tell me.  It will be okay.  I have yet to drop a friend because of their opinions on my writing.  It won’t happen with this book, either.

The end.

(And go buy my stupid little book because you will like it, dammit.)

Published by

Luther M. Siler

The author of SKYLIGHTS, THE BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES and several other books.

13 thoughts on “A note to my real-world friends regarding my books

  1. Ahhh another Prudie reader!
    I agree with you; there’s no need to be rude to a friend if you didn’t like their book, but saying “It wasn’t for me” or giving a few bits of constructive criticism would be fine. Though maybe I’ll feel differently when I actually have something published?


  2. Good on you. This makes me think of those girls who wear the wrong makeup (essentially making the look like lipsticked oranges) whose friends/mothers/sisters/other loved ones refrain from telling them they’re wearing the wrong shade…


  3. I always expect honest feedback from readers. More than that I expect it. How else can I improve if I don’t get honest heart-felt feedback? You are most definitely on the top of my list to read. I just haven’t got to it yet. 🙂 And I always leave a review if it’s at least 3 star. if it’s less then 3 that usually means I can’t get through it and I don’t feel comfortable leaving a review on something that I have not read in it’s entirety. Best of luck to you with the new book!

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