Monday, June 15, 2009

Hey Christian Fiction Readers: it is time to tell the truth

It is very fitting that Brandilyn Collins posted this "rant" ( that is self-proclaimed) on her blog this morning because it allowed me to mount my little soap-box and challenge something that has oft bothered me about the Christian reading public and which also led to the beginning of this here l'il book blog ( read more here). Without much further ado, I have re-posted my comment to Brandilyn's post.

note: somehow my link when I commented was faulty ---just so you don't think there is some other Rachel out there too intimidated to state her name. I own up! it was me!

"I find Christian writers take negative reviews far more personally than non-Christian writers. Perhaps because they're agenda or M.O. is for a higher purpose.

That being said, Collins is correct that scathing reviews without proper execution or reason come across as ignorant and mean. On a slightly related topic, I am always surprised at the lack of negative reviews----by authors of other authors and readers--- of Christian fiction.

I feel Christian readership holds back from being truthful because it IS Christian fiction and they do not want to come across as negative.

Books are a very subjective medium and they deserve close scrutiny. In fact, the best, most thought-provoking books will ellicit a balance of negative and positive reviews. I find that testament to the writer's skill.

I think to own up to Collins' stark truth (for which I applaud her )readers should, in turn, be truthful---in an informed and reasonable way.

I would love to read more blogs which critique books written by Christian authors. We OWE it to Chrisian authors to treat them in the same way that we treat secular fiction....after all, they would expect that and respect it as writers regardless of genre.

Thoughfully critical reviews are expected in the literary world and are not personal---personal attacks are quite a different thing.

Authors should have a fairly thick-skin as a result of their agenting out their work to numerous places and perhaps undergoing several rejections.

Whilst some publishing companies are known to edit fiction far less than others, some editors I know take a ruler to each sentence---they can withstand that too!

I appreciate this "rant" because I agree with Collins' statement that readers need to write informed reviews--- she has taken the time to put her craft on the table and it deserves careful and thoughtful appreciation and or critique.

My own rant is to encourage Christian readers to speak out: in their blogs, on amazon.

Not every Christian novel deserves a four or five star average on popular book websites. We don't do it for secular fiction and Christian fiction ( if, as it tries to be , an equal craft ) deserves the same."

Thanks to Brandilyn Collins for igniting some fantastic discussion! I think you should check her out and maybe read some of her books!


~ Brandilyn Collins said...

Hey, Rachel, glad to find your blog. And I'm grateful for your comment.

I responded to it but forgot to mention one thing. The more books a CBA author has and the more those books sell, the more likely you'll be to see negative reviews mixed in with the positives. If you have a book on amazon that's reviewed only 6 times, those may be the diehard fans of the author. If the book is reviewed over 50 you're going to be getting more of a variety. I see this on my Dark Pursuit, for example. All in all, with over 50 reviews the book has very high marks. But you'll see a few one stars in there. Of course those people are terribly wrong. :]

I think this is healthy. I don't like the one stars, but hey, it's that person's opinion.

kirsteniteleader said...

There IS a God. XD

I say that because sometimes life seems like coincidence, the way it works out sometimes...

So, there I am, sifting through Google doing "research" for my book and I come across your blog. I get SO excited that I don't really take a moment to get a feel for things. I automatically decide that we share THE same POV and I begin firing with both cannons.

Then I get mentioned in a later post. I get a little noticed. For the first time ever (honest!), I was boldly forward in a public place... And it turned a few heads.

Time to think. I read Lessman's article. More thinking. THEN you post this article, which makes me think even MORE!!!

All I can say is, unexpectedly, I find myself growing as a person. I didn't realize until now how important it was to separate myself from the emotion of what I think and the reason I think it. I thought that if that's the way I felt, that's the way I should state it. It's honest. It's what I would say to my friends.

But in the end, it's entirely MORE important to state your opinion and support it with reasons, and leave the emotion behind. You end up retaining honesty, without feeling forced to be fluffy or PC, but you don't hack at a piece of the author's heart with a cleaver, either. It's a good habit in general, regardless of whether the author may someday read it or not.

So to Lessman: I am sorry. I still have the same issues with your book I had before, and I do have my reasons, but wow, they need to be handled a lot better than at the top of a soapbox with a megaphone. And I'm not arrogant or self-righteous, despite having painted myself that way. Really, I'm not. I just can't help but hold other writers to the same standard I hold myself, and it is indeed a high one. I want to see us all fulfill our enormous potential.

So I deleted the comment. I wouldn't at first, because it felt cowardly, like I didn't want anyone to see my mistake. But I've owned it here, and I don't want anyone affected by what I wrote. Not anymore.

God Bless You!