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.
In 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.
In 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.
All 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.
I 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?
So 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.
What do you think?