I was hired to critique the manuscript for a novella. The author requested that, in addition to the usual review, I offer suggestions for improvement. The story spanned romance, mystery, and suspense--right up my alley. To be perfectly honest, it sucked.
So, allow me to explain. The story premise held promise; the poor quality of execution made me cringe. Full of plot holes, discrepancies, improbabilities, and other egregious flaws--which, by the way, I pointed out--the story suffered even more from sloppy writing, incorrect grammar, and other "mechanical" errors in composition and construction. The 9-page critique includes an overall review that covers a little over two pages. The balance of the critique addresses the manuscript chapter by chapter. It's quite thorough, but not complimentary.
Once I finished the review, I rewrote it in an attempt to ensure the objectivity of the comments so that they focused on the manuscript and nothing else. Personal comments regarding the author have no place in a critique. Even though I delivered exactly what was requested and promised and I delivered the review days ahead of schedule, the client took offense and left a negative review of my service.
The comments she left show that the client wanted a cheerleader who perhaps pointed out a few minor glitches within the manuscript that could be easily remedied. Unfortunately, that's not what she got. She received a candid opinion from a professional writer and editor.
The gist of this debacle of a project is this: if you ask for something, then don't complain when what you get isn't what you expected. Editors and critical reviewers are not an author's friends or cheerleaders, but their critical feedback will help a writer to improve his or her craft. As a writer, I welcome criticism, because I learn from it. It helps me improve.
Sure, negative reviews sting. After licking my wounds, I go back to the criticism and my work to see the flaws and then try to correct them. That, I believe, is the mark of a professional: someone who can accept the pain and work through it to produce a better product.
Any writer who hires me to review and/or edit his or her content will receive candor and thorough attention to detail. You'll get exactly what I promise. I won't be your cheerleader. I will point out every flaw I detect so that you, the author, can take remedial action and improve the content.
After all, isn't it better for one person to point out the problems with a story than to upload it for public viewing only to garner a host of negative reviews from that public?