Writers as Reviewers

InsecureWritersSupportGroup2

Today’s insecurity is related to reviewing. Should I review every book I read or only those I enjoyed and would therefore recommend? Should writers review other writers publicly at all?

Most writers are avid readers, and some are also reviewers. It seems logical for writers who are readers to review the books they read, but is it always a good idea?

I must admit, I never used to review the books I read on Amazon, and I’ve been a regular amazon kindle and paperback customer for years. I used to think reviewing was for experts, until I started publishing myself, and realized how useful it is for other readers and helpful for authors, so I started reviewing many of the books I read from that moment onwards. At first, I thought it was a great idea, everyone wins.

Over a year later, with over 50 reviews on Amazon.com, and at least the same number on my blog, I’m not so sure it’s a good idea any more. I’m always kind when I review, because I know what an author has gone through in order to write and publish a book, but that doesn’t mean I’m not honest. On the other hand, if I don’t like the book, or think it needs more work, I sometimes tell the author privately, if I think the information can be useful, but I normally don’t review it publicly.

I’m convinced that my opinion will always be biased and therefore unjust. Why? Because although I have a solid linguistic and literary academic background, my opinion is not valuable enough to cause a negative effect on anyone’s ratings or self-confidence, after all, I may be wrong, since part of my opinion is linked to personal tastes and preferences.

There are some interesting articles on the topic:

http://www.selfpublishingadvice.org/ethics-of-reviewing/ Discusses the ethics of reviewing books by authors we know.

http://www.selfpublishingadvice.org/why-indie-authors-should-give-honest-reviews-as-readers/ Discusses the negative results of giving negative reviews.

http://barbtaub.com/2015/05/23/should-writers-be-reviewers/ An interesting and recent discussion on the topic of negative reviews.

So, what do you think? Should writers write positive and negative reviews? Should we review at all? Or should we just write? I’m not sure any more…

This post is part of Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly Blog Hop. Follow the link to have a look at some of the other posts and/or join in.

About LucciaGray

Writer, blogger, teacher, reader and lover of words wherever they are. Author of The Eyre Hall Trilogy, the breathtaking sequel to Jane Eyre. Luccia lives in sunny Spain, but her heart's in Victorian London.

Posted on July 1, 2015, in Insecure Writers' Support Group and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. I review books on my blog, but I have a policy not to do negative reviews. Mostly, this is because the writing community, especially the kidlit community, is small and even if I don’t know someone personally now, I might at some point. Like you said, I know the hard work that goes into a book.
    So if I don’t like a book, I just don’t review it. So, I guess I’m more of a person who recommends–you must read this–instead of a critical reviewer.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I like the distinction you make between a person who recommends and a critical reviewer. I’m also of the first type. Thank you for commenting 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Always a difficult one Luccia – I decided when I published that from then on I would review every book I read. However having always been someone who previously would finish a book no matter what that meant that if I was likely to be giving it a 1* or 2* I wouldn’t finish it. I am no professional reviewer, just a reader, so I’m not interested, nor qualified, to criticise someone else’s book that another person may love. I would hate to think that a review I left would stop someone else from picking it up. I would far rather extol the virtues of the many fabulous books I do come across that I am happy to give 3*’s and up to. That feels to me to be a much more positive way of going about things so I guess I’m on the same page as jennienzor… and you!! Always a great discussion point for a blog post though!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I try to follow my mother’s advice: if you can’t say anything good, don’t say anything at all. I review books that hook me and keep me reading to the end, that leave me satisfied that my time was well-spent. Most people who leave reviews (on Amazon, B&N, et al.) are readers, not professional reviewers. I think that’s what readers want to see.

    Diane IWSG #99

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Our philosophies are so similar!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Margaret Cullingford

    Agree, if I review it’s as a reader who enjoyed what I read and would award 4 or 5 stars. I save critical comments for my fellow writers at my wonderful Writers’ Workshop which is why we are there. We need to know what works and what doesn’t before we rush to publish.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It is an interesting question and I enjoyed reading your thoughts on the topic. I tend to not do reviews though I will comment on books I have enjoyed. I do find it easier to talk about things I like/agree with, or conversely those I disagree with. I don’t like to review books of author’s I know if a star or numerical rating is required. I would prefer to just talk about what I like. I wouldn’t give a negative review about the book of an author I know; if I didn’t like it I’d probably put off making a comment.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. It bothers me that everyone seems fixated on 5 star reviews now. To me, somehting needs to be truly awesome to merit that. That’s not putting everything else down, it’s just recognising that some books are just … magic, they’re the ones you go back to again and again, the ones you flip to the front and start reading again because you can’t bear that they’ve ended.
    Of course that’s not going to be the case for every book and why for me a 4 star is still utterly brilliant.
    Unfortunately, not everyone has the same idea and I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve been taken in by rave reviews only to find that they were written by a 12 year old. (Which is fine if you’re 12, but as I’m hmmm a bit older 😉 it doesn’t help me much). There, that’s my gripe – we need age ratings for books!
    Ummm, I may have gone off topic a bit…

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree with your thoughts, but I think there should be a 6☆ rating for ‘masterpieces’! Of course what constitutes a great work ultimately depends on personal opinion. There are books I would and do read more than once. They should get 6☆ Thank you for dropping by and commenting 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I don’t think it hurts for writers to review other writer’s work. As you said, you are not negative in writing your review. I’m a book review blogger (only a wannabe author at this point) and do both good and not so good reviews, but I don’t feel any of my reviews are hateful nor malicious. I always give a brief synopsis followed by what I thought. Usually there are both good points as well as not so good points. 🙂
    @dino0726 from 
    FictionZeal – Impartial, Straighforward Fiction Book Reviews

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’re absolutely right, as long as it’s not malicious or offensive, it should be fine, and I can take that myself, but I still feel uncomfortable pointing out negative aspects publicly.

      Like

  10. Margaret Cullingford

    Absolutely agree about a 6 star category – if for all sorts of different reasons different books have entertained or been thought-provoking, if I have to, I see no harm in awarding 5 or 4 stars, and if there are imperfections (I’m sure we could all find them in all writers how ever eminent and well regarded) I wouldn’t mention them. After all to quote that wonderful punch-line at the end of Some Like it Hot – “Nobody’s perfect”.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi Luccia. I wrote about the same topic a while back, proposing a similar view to what most people have here. https://olganm.wordpress.com/2015/03/03/whats-your-opinion-of-book-reviews-should-authors-review-please-readers-dont-be-shy/
    The issue with the 5 stars in Amazon is that nowhere it says it should be a master piece, so I guess different people would have different criteria. I am more interested in the content of the review than in the number of stars, because sometimes what I might not like might be the reason why somebody else would read a book. And even if we tried to be objective, there is nothing objective about a book, unless it’s a science treatise. And even then, we might like or not the style…
    Thanks Luccia.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I just read and commented on your post, Olga. It was very insightful, sorry I missed it. I guess in the end everyone’s ok with readers, who happen to be authors, reviewing books, and most prefer not to post negative reviews, for similar reasons. Thanks for commenting and directing me to your post:)

      Like

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