Why I haven’t read your book

girl reading from TBR list

I usually try to read books written by my friends, but I often fail. Here are the main reasons why.

If you make friends with enough unpublished writers and stick around a few years, you find yourself friends with a lot of published writers. And because you’re a supportive friend, that means a lot of books you want to buy and read.

I always start with good intentions.

I like you. I want to buy your book, read it, love it, and leave a helpful, honest review on Amazon for your future fans to find.

Usually I manage the first step quite well.

The second step is harder. The third even harder.

Please allow me to offer some possible explanations why I haven’t read or reviewed your book.

I have too many books on my TBR list and not enough time

Right now I have 27 pages of unread books on my kindle. At 10 books per page, that’s 270 books.

But it’s worse than that. Some of the “books” are in fact collections of three, five, or even a dozen full length novels.

Sure, I read quickly, but I spend less time reading when I’m working intensively on my writing, as I am right now. It might take me a week to finish a book.

Yes, I’m five years away from getting through my TBR list.

(And that’s just on my kindle. I also have a library of dead-tree books that I plan to finish one of these days.)

Also, assuming $3 per book, that 27 pages of unread books is… Eek! I’m not going to think about that.

So maybe I’m going to read your book, I just haven’t yet.

cloud sitting on hills
So many hills to see, so many books to read.

It’s not a genre or style I enjoy

If I got to your book, I might have decided it wasn’t a genre or style I’d enjoy.

I tried to read it anyway, I promise. But by the 2% to 25% mark it was clear nothing good would come of me soldiering on.

You need me to elaborate? Sure, I can do that.

If I’d forced myself to finish:

  • It would have taken a REALLY LONG time. Like a year.
  • I wouldn’t have enjoyed it.
  • I would have had to stammer and lie if you ever asked me if I liked your book.**
  • I wouldn’t have been able to write a review.
  • Puppies would have died. And no one wants that.

** Okay, this isn’t quite true. I would tell you the truth, but only if you insisted at volume multiple times that you really wanted to know. Because even though you know taste is personal, it still hurts.

I won’t generally tell you if this happens, because it contains no useful information. Should you change your book because it’s not to my taste? Of course not. Does that mean other people won’t like it? Not at all.

All it tells you is that I’m not your audience.

Not every style is for everyone.

Your book was not good

Not your book, obviously, the book of a different friend.

I feel bad even suggesting this. You’re a good person and you tried really hard, therefore any book you write is good.

Sadly, no.

Writing is a skill that takes work to acquire.

You must convince a reader to stick with people they’ve never met, who don’t exist, in a world that may not be real, and whom the reader can neither see nor hear. For four hundred pages.

While the cats demand to be fed, dinner needs cooking, and the Twitter notifications pile up.

This is a BIG ask.

You might not hit the nail on the head with your first book. Or your second. There’s a learning curve. It takes practice and paying attention.

We’re all learning, some of us are just further along than others. I started out terrible. I like to think by now I’m less terrible. There’s a good chance you’re the same.

Perhaps by now you’re brilliant–some of my friends are.

But perhaps that’s not until next week.

So maybe I tried to read your book, realised it was sadly lacking in plot, character, or prose, and quietly set it aside.

If you really want to know if this was the case, ask me. Several times. Convince me you can take the truth and I’ll give it to you. Nicely, because I’m nice. And with suggestions that will increase the probability your next book is the one that drowns out the cat’s yowls.

If you really want honesty, I’ll give it to you.

I read your book but didn’t review it

On the other hand, maybe I did finish your book, I just haven’t reviewed it.

There are two possible explanations.

One, it didn’t deserve at least three stars, which is the lowest rating I’ll give.

Two, I’ve been busy doing other things. On reflection, this is almost certainly it.

Do you make an effort to read the books written by your writer friends? Is your experience anything like mine?

Sign up to get my posts and you could be my friend too. I might even read your books.

Author: A.S. Akkalon

By day, A.S. Akkalon works in an office where the computers outnumber the suits of armour more than two-to-one. By night, she puts dreams of medieval castles, swords, and dragons onto paper.

14 thoughts on “Why I haven’t read your book”

  1. I haven’t tried to count the books on my TBR. Nope. I know the $$ is high though because I made the mistake of calculating it last year. Lol!

    I do want to support everyone, but I only buy the ones I actually want to read. The TBR is too high, and I only have so much book money, plus this year I’m limiting the number of books I’m buying, so certain genres are low on the list regardless of how much I like the author. There’s a mystery book that came out by a comrade last month, and I’m not in a mystery mood right now, or ever, but I really want to read it still, so I’m thinking of getting the audiobook. Audiobooks are working well for me right now when I’m outside of my preferred genres.

    1. You should never calculate how much your TBR pile cost. It’s way too scary. 🙂

      Yours is probably a better strategy – only buy the books you plan to read. I tend to get overexcited when I go buying books.

      It’s interesting that you can listen to audiobooks outside your preferred genres. I struggle with them even in my favourite genres.

  2. I prefer to beta read for writer friends, because what would be helpful in a private, pre-publication setting would be absolutely brutal in a public review. I learned the hard way that I need to be absolutely clear about expectations going in. Early on in my internet-community building, I’d agreed to “beta read” for someone I didn’t particularly know well. I took a lot of time and effort on the book, but… turns out she didn’t actually know what beta-reading is. What she really wanted was a review on Amazon. She hadn’t told me that the thing was already published.
    TBH, though… asking why someone hasn’t reviewed your book is a little like asking why they don’t want to go on a date with you. It’s one, subjective opinion, which may or may not have anything to do with you, and it’s just not going to make you feel any better, no matter what they say.

    1. Absolutely – I much prefer to beta read for friends too, because at that point you’re helping them make that book better, not just possibly the next one. I would never say publicly what I say to the people I beta for because, as you say, it would get super harsh.

      Argh! Sorry to hear about your bad beta experience. The worst I got was spending ages writing comments, and then not even getting a “thanks”.

      You’re probably right and people rarely ask why you haven’t reviewed their book, I just get paranoid that they’re thinking it. 🙂

  3. It’s always tough.

    I’ve beta read for friends, and in at least one case, they stopped speaking to me. In another, they refused to let me see another book.

    Like you’ve said, it’s hard. Each writer pours a lot of themselves into their work, and it’s hard to get anything but a pat on the back.

    Yet, I sometimes wonder if as writers, we’re also more critical readers. Meaning, we’re harder to please 🙂

    1. I’m pretty sure writers are harder to please. We probably also look for different things to the average reader.

      I’m sorry you’ve had bad beta experiences. I suspect the older I’ve got the less tolerant I’ve become to people who can’t take (solicited, helpful) criticism. If they don’t want feedback that might help them write better, maybe they shouldn’t be sharing their writing yet. But of course this is easier to say than to live. 🙂

  4. I salute your honesty. This brings up the glaring problem with writing as an art form, especially long-form fiction. You can’t hang your book on a wall or stick it on a pedestal for people to walk by and admire for a few minutes. Well, you could, but only if you have a really snazzy cover. Books demand from readers the very thing that we all, rich or poor, are certain we lack: time. Sigh.

    1. So very true. And I think not something all writers understand. Sometimes I cringe when I see writers giving away their books with the expectation that everyone will want them, when the bottom line is that most people don’t want to spend the time it will take to read them. On the other hand, this means that when someone does take the time to read your book it’s a gift from them and a huge compliment.

  5. Wonderful post! I relate and agree. I love my author friends, but they’ve written lots of books, I’m a ridiculously slow reader with little time for reading, and if the book’s genre or premise or style or something else is not my thing…well. On the other hand, many of my friends haven’t read my books for similar reasons, and I think that’s great.

    One friend for example writes fantasy and doesn’t like steamy romance AT ALL. I never had a problem with that, we have a lot of other things in common, but she seems to feel bad about not being interested in my books. A few months ago she asked if she should after all give them a chance. I said NO. We both know it’s not her thing, so she shouldn’t go anywhere near the smut I write just in an attempt to make me happy. I’m perfectly happy just trying to get my target audience to read my books; very few of my friends actually count as such.

    1. Thanks! It sounds like you’ve reached a good equilibrium with your writing friends. (People who don’t like steamy romance should definitely not read your books. Haha.)

  6. It’s so tricky reading and reviewing friends books! I finished a book that really wasn’t for me, but the writing was pretty excellent. Editor me says give it a 5, reader me says a 4. Indecisive me doesn’t know what to do, so I haven’t reviewed it yet. I’m definitely sticking to books in my niche from now on as at least then my editor and reader self agree 🙂

    I’d rather beta read too, because if I see any glaring issues I can mention them. I sometimes suspect writers are getting their friends to leave 5 star reviews for them regardless of content, as I’ve come across highly rated books which are terribly written!

    1. Haha. That’s definitely a problem. I’d go with a 5 because I’m sure your editor self is pretty smart and I tend to be generous. This is also the reason for Sebastian and Rain – them I don’t have to figure out what I really think about a book in order to talk about it.

      I’ve come across atrocious books with 5-star reviews too. And when you read the reviews you can tell that either the reviewers were struggling to find anything nice to say about the book, or they hadn’t actually read it.

  7. I think most of us can relate to this as readers – an honest post. I always review a book if I finish it, but won’t finish a book I don’t enjoy. That seems to negate any need to post reviews below 3 stars.

    1. You’re such a treasure – reviews are a lot of work! That seems like a great strategy, though. If you finish the book it must deserve at least three stars.

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