While I have to sort of laugh at myself for starting the advice question with “I have a friend” but:
I have a friend who is a fellow author. She asked me to read a work in progress ages ago and asked for constructive criticism. I gave her my thoughts. She recently self published the work and asked for reviews. I asked her if she had changed anything from last time. She said yes but from what I can see from my former notes as well as comparing the two files, there weren’t any changes. I had loads of notes and feel like I couldn’t give an honest review because it feels like she is expecting a friendly positive review…it’s not bad it’s just that I guess it’s really not my cup of tea. Do I write a review or do I simply shrug off the review by telling the friend/author that the book genre really isn’t my style (although it is)? If I write a review, should I be honest or should I give her what she wants? Thanks for the advice.
Slice of Advice:
When someone asks for our help and then doesn’t take it, it can be frustrating because you ask yourself why they bothered to ask in the first place. The problem in that thinking is that they didn’t promise to use every piece of your advice, they just asked you what you thought. Helping others out is noble, but expectations they’ll follow any advice needs to remain low. You don’t know that they didn’t take your constructive criticism to heart, all you know is that they didn’t use every change you suggested.
As an author, I know the value of reviews is sometimes in the amount of reviews you get and not necessarily the average they create. You can still make an honest review without making it scathing in any way. Telling them the genre isn’t your style would sound like a blatant lie if they know you at all and will only complicate the situation, so I would stay clear of that option.
Remember, the review is for other readers not the author. Readers want to know if the story is worth their time so pick out something about the book you enjoyed and highlight that—without spoilers—or a character or scene you think that readers would want to know about in order to make a decision about buying the book.
Next time someone asks you to go over their book and to give advice, ask yourself if you’re prepared for them to completely ignore your advice. If you are, then proceed and have fun.
Good luck. It’s no easy position to be in.