I posted this to Backspace as well, but I'm interested to hear what the Crimespacers think.

So I've got a friend who is a talented writer and his books sell well. We're not Best Friends Forever by any stretch, but we've been on friendly terms for several years. There's been something about his published novels that has been bugging me, or rather, there's a tendency he has that weakens key scenes in his book. It's the sort of thing that one doesn't always recognize until it's pointed out.

I've belonged to several writing groups over the years and the urge to critique runs pretty deep. I also believe that anyone can benefit from a well-directed remark. Still, getting a critique post-publication is likely to elicit annoyance. Either my friend won't agree or worse, he'll agree and wish he could go back and fix what I'm pointing out. There's also the fact that he hasn't asked for a critique or ever said, "So, what do you think?" about a published book. I've casually mentioned that I could give him a beta read on his next book, but I think he gets pretty good reads from another mutual friend and from his agent (with the obvious exception of this one point).

So do I mention this to my friend? I'm convinced that a little self-reflection on this subject could help his future works, but no matter how I look at it, my comments are like to come across as rude. Personally, I would want to know, but I know that not everyone would feel the same way.

Any thoughts?

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It's a tough situation to be in. You've offered to read for him at an earlier stage next time, and he's passed on it. It makes me think he likely wouldn't be receptive to your feedback.

I go with steering clear unless asked, unless you have a strong enough friendship to weather that kind of discussion.
Um, no. Two things...he hasn't asked you for your opinion & has already turned down your offer to beta for his next book, and there's nothing he can do to correct it in his current book. If it's bugging the crap out of you, find another book (by a different author) that has a similar issue and point out the problem there. That way, he can either take the hint or not w/o this damaging your friendship. Do what you wanna, but I don't think telling him now is going to do much for either of you.
Book reviewers tend to good job locating these kind of flaws in a book. Some people don't like unsolicited advice and you might lose the friendship if you persist. If this person respects your opinion, they will see the value of it.

But if he is selling well and no one has even mentioned before, its possible that is simply a taste factor.
I never critique a friend's published book. What's done is done. Also, what I see as a weakness is something that didn't bother the author's agent, regular advance readers, or, presumably, the reading public.
I guess it depends on your relationship with him. Has he offered unsolicited advice to you? If not, you have your answer.
I'd stay out of it, as well. His work doesn't seem to suffer enough from it to inhibit publication, and he probably enjoys your friendship BECAUSE it is not based on being each other's beta in any respect. I have friends I do not critque and others who want it, but I would never offer unsolicited advice to anyone. It could ruin an otherwise good friendship.
I think this question is impossible to answer without having a feeling for your relationship, your personality, his personality, and the issue in question.

Without knowing those things, my generic response is that nobody asked you and you might be wrong.
Yes, I think all this is good advice. I shall, twitchingly, refrain.
Uhhh Jim, that reminds me.. about Keppler, and Cleveland... are you sure that...



Yer Pal-

I know a guy who read my book and as he told me he liked it, he also said he had "notes."

As politely as I could, I told him that the book was published and there wasn't much I could do to fix the flaws. So thanks but no thanks.

I really wanted to tell him where to stick his notes, but I took the high road.

The moral: Don't offer up unsolicited advice. It's rarely taken well.
Tough story, Jim. It must be difficult to admit that the message was accurate, even if you were annoyed with the messenger.

I had a friend who seemed to be making a dumb career move based largely
on impatience with his modestly increasing sales. His new plan seemed a
disaster in the making but he seemed so sure of himself that I kept my
mouth shut. Sure enough, it backfired, but he still blames other
factors, so I was probably wise to stay silent.

This question is really a matter of technique that one would notice in
someone else's work but might miss in one's own. Not the sort of thing
to anger you, but given all the points made above, I still think I'll
shut up.
I agree. If I'm not asked, I don't offer advice, about anything. I'm even a bit reluctant when I am asked. I've a friend who asked me to read a manuscript and make notes, which I did. He accepted them without any noticeable rancor, but I still felt uncomfortable giving them. After all, I don't feel I know enough yet, anyway, to offer profitable criticism.

I also seem to have terminal keyboard diarrhea ... I wouldn't offer.


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