A friend of mine who is a successful writer once said he thinks generosity towards other writers is both an admirable and necessary trait. When I asked why, he pointed out that people rarely read only one book.
Very true. For the most part, people don’t read a book, dust their hands and proclaim, “Well THAT’S off the list. Time for skydiving.” They read a book, finish it and reach for the next. (I should say that in a life where I happily burble about books on a near constant basis, I did once meet a man who had only ever read one book. The proclamation was made with such sincere pride that I inquired deeper and found a fellow dyslexic who, unlike me, had never gotten any special schooling and so reading a book had been a very serious and laborious undertaking. In case you’re interested it was THE BITCH by Jackie Collins and he’d read it while in prison).
(Skydiving, I will also add, is something I would never feel the need to do more than once. Or even once.)
Last night, my visiting niece told how much she had loved GRACELING by Kristin Cashore. When I said we have BITTERBLUE, the next in the series, she seized it and started reading. For her, one fantastic book leads to another.
When I see other writers bashing a book I always wonder why. If asked for an opinion, then by all means give your honest opinion, but why go out of your way to trash another’s work? Act like a professional. “Book X didn’t grab me, but Book Y did; have you read it?” Not only do you get to recommend a book you love, hopefully encouraging someone to go to a library or buy a book, but most of the time you come away from those conversations having had books recommended to you, so it’s a win-win situation.
As an author, be generous to other writers. Don’t fawn over what you don’t like, but also don’t repeatedly bash another’s work. Show some generosity and, hopefully, generosity will be shown to you.