Wednesday, October 5, 2011

To Review or Not To Review

I was pondering this in a chat room full of authors last night. I got a lot of good answers, but I don't think I'm any closer to figuring out a middle ground for myself.

On one hand, I can see the argument against authors reviewing other authors. I mean, you don't want to buy a book based on back slaps from friends, you know? (Which is giving the author network a lot of credit. I "know of" a lot more authors than I "know." I'm sure the same is true for everyone else. So you're far more likely to read a review by a reader who happens to be a writer than someone looking to do a fellow writer a solid IMO.)

Which flows into my next point. I'm a reader too. My love of reading why I started writing. If I really enjoyed a book, regardless of who happened to write it, is it wrong for me to want to share that enthusiasm with other readers?

Well, maybe. Reviews should be impartial. Or let me say I place more value on impartial reviews.

That's part of the reason why I don't review friends' books, no matter how much I enjoyed them. The other part is because I beta or crit for several of them, and it feels wrong to rate books I had a hand in polishing, you know what I mean?

I'll be honest, as much as I crave reviews as an author, I'm rarely moved, as a reader, to give them. A book really has to knock my socks off for me to sit down and write up a review. I should also mention here I'm a horrible reviewer...

I get so excited about really good books I gush and my vocabulary is reduced to "awesome" and "whoa" and "want." So yeah, things I don't think another author would read and considering valuable input. Although, I do bring the foaming fangirl pretty well. ;)

I don't know. Maybe I'm over thinking this.

Sometimes I get so excited and want to spread the gospel of whatever I happen to be reading at the time. Last week was Kelly Armstrong's Otherworld series. And yes, Bitten did rate a review from me. I love that series. (And Lucas!) (And will book thirteen hurry up and get here? Or do I want it to get here since it's the last one?) (But I really need to see A and S get together!) <- See. Most of my reviews aren't even that cohesive. LOL

So what do you think? Is it okay for authors to review other authors? Crit partners? Friends? Do you believe that's where the idea a bad review that teaches you something is better than a good review that lavishes praise without giving you room for improvement?

I'm curious.

(Oh, and I'm also reading The Darkest Surrender, Gena Showalter, and it's one of her best, if not her best in the Lords of the Underworld series.)


Vegetarian Cannibal said...

Good blog post.

I am an author and I make it a point NOT to review small press/indie books. Period. I've seen way too many flame wars over these kinds of things, and I've learned to just keep my nose out of it. Aspiring authors/novelists are a sensitive bunch--and a lot of them own their own publishing companies or knock elbows with editors and or other folks in the business. Not a smart move to piss off a potential publisher or their friends.

Also, I just don't feel like my opinion is important enough to post up on my blog. I'll rate stuff on Amazon or Goodreads, but I'm not going to make a big deal out of it. Even if I want to shout from the rooftops how much I love a book, I'll just give it a nice rating on Amazon or something.

This is why I think book bloggers and writers should stay separate. Book bloggers read and review, writers write the books. No criss crossing in between and everybody stays happy.

Again, just my opinion though. :)

Nerine Dorman said...

I'm an author, editor and book reviewer. The books I review are for a review site and the newspaper publisher where I work during the day.

My rule of thumb is to write a review in such a way that if I have negative comments, I write it as though it were critique for a novel written by my best friend. In other words: it's not what you say but HOW you say it. Granted, there are some big names who should know better--and in those cases I don't pull my punches, but in general, I try to be kind, but firm.

I'm passionate about writing and improving it. Sometimes things need to be said. I don't give praise lightly but when I do, an author deserves it.

Hailey Edwards said...

That is exactly me, VC. I don't feel my opinion has enough weight for me to worry about it, and most of the time I don't. This was just a case of having read so many blogs on the topic lately, it made me curious. lol

That is an awesome answer, Nerine. I agree that reviews should be constructive, and also that there's no reason to be cruel. Even negative comments can be made in a neutral way.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me, ladies!