Can Authors Be Book Reviewers Too?

Book Reviewer I’m a regular reader of Kristen Lamb’s Blog , her posts are full of useful information about writing and social media and her anecdotes are amusing.  Last week I read her post entitled ‘Three NEVERS of Social Media for Writers’ , it’s an interesting post  and one I recommend you read. The three ‘nevers’ appeared commonsense to me but a point she made in the ‘Never Write Bad Book Reviews’ ‘Our BRAND is AUTHOR, not “book reviewer”.’,was thought-provoking and got me thinking.

DSCN1097In her post, she refers us to an earlier blog post; ‘Is it FAIR for Authors to Review other Authors? Do we ruin the Magic?’ so I read this too.

Briefly, it examines the differences between critique and review. Paraphrased,  it asks the question,  do writers know too much about the logistics of story writing and risk unmasking the illusion that all story tellers weave, if they review books?

I personally don’t read reviews before I read a novel or watch a TV programme. I didn’t even before I wrote. I like to make my own mind up. Reviews for every product and service are popular now with the growth of e-commerce and many people like to read reviews before they read the book.

WellnessBadgebadge_80In a saturated market ,reviews seem key to a book’s success. It’s the quantity not the quality of the reviews that appears to sell books and that’s a shame but not something that’s likely to change.

If a writer reviews a book without allowing themselves to be immersed in the fiction,seeing only the mechanics of story’s creation. Any negative comments on point of view, grammar or flow they make, are likely to shatter the creative illusion for other readers.

My Review -1All reviews, like everything else in the publishing world, are subjective, an opinion. Useful reviews shouldn’t contain many if any ‘spoilers’ and should highlight the story’s positives.

DSCN1091I don’t offer a critique or review as a writer. I’m new to writing but I’m a reader of almost 50 years 🙂 I read  fiction and I reviewed over 130 books in 2014. I review the story and how it effects me. The feedback on my reviews from other readers and authors is usually positive. They find them useful and surely that’s a good thing?

Mystery Thriller My ReviewSo to answer my original question ‘Can Authors be Book Reviewers too?’One of the points Kristen makes is that there is a  conflict of interest. Authors that are book reviewers risk alienating their peers if they give critical reviews. Or their reviews are full of platitudes, so’s not to offend.

It’s a fine line to walk certainly, but I rarely find a book that I can’t say something positive about. You don’t have to be unkind. If you can only find a few positives, the review is short.The inference is, the book wasn’t for you but you are offering an opinion in positive terms, whilst still being honest. If  I find a book I don’t like, I don’t finish it and don’t review it.

Most authors that are also book reviewers, do it because they enjoy it. If that makes me less cutting edge, as an author that’s fine  I write because I love it and book reviews are writing too.DSCN1366DSCN1380

What do you think?

 

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6 thoughts on “Can Authors Be Book Reviewers Too?

  1. I read the same blog post and wrote my own post (which isn’t up yet) about it. I think writing is the only job where a person can be on both sides, in this case writer and reviewer. If we don’t read then we’re missing out on the basics of writing itself. Like you said: writing a review is still writing and as authors we should be reading and writing as much as we can no matter what genre it’s in.
    Constantly reading your own work or writing in the same genre/style is what makes an author go into limbo and stop improving. We need to be reading and writing everything as often as possible in order to keep evolving. Besides, no one is going to learn anything if all they get are glowing 5-star reviews all the time. Be constructive but be positive. And if you really hate it? Then you never read it.

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  2. I agree. I often want to shout about the books I love, and if I can do so in an entertaining way that helps other authors, why not? I choose the books I want to talk about, so there’s no pressure on me to make platitudes about books I don’t like. Perhaps some wouldn’t call them ‘proper’ reviews but I enjoy writing them.

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  3. I think that since most writers are avid readers, it’s unrealistic for them to decide never again to write a book review. This may even deprive authors of the quality reviews reader-writers can provide. Having said that, I agree people should think carefully before writing brusque, cold critique that tears down an author just for the sake of it. We should all strive to be honest but kind, encouraging others’ creativity.

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