Is there any good way to tell an author you didn't like his or her book?
Twice in recent months, I've read books I didn't like by authors I do like in person. In both cases, I'd enjoyed and admired the authors' earlier books, but their latest struck me as flat, obvious, cliche-laden and just plain not very well-written.
Even all-star baseball players strike out regularly, and I know any number of reasons a book might not be an author's best work: unreasonable deadlines, sloppy editing, burnout, real-life issues getting in the way.
But the question remains, what do I say?
Authors, help me out. No one sets out to write a bad book. Almost every writer I know goes through phases of thinking that they stink, that they're impostors, that their stuff is lousy, and that they'll be exposed as frauds any day now.
But sometimes, a book really isn't good.
Sometime between now and the end of the year, I will see both of these authors, and it's a safe bet that both of them will say, "What did you think of [Title]?"
What should I say?