Writers as Reviewers

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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.

Insecure Writer’s Support Group: First Wednesday of the Month Blog Hop

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Why is writing a second novel more challenging than a first novel?

I have to begin by reminding myself of the things I’ve learned about writing a first novel and self-publishing… the hard way

When I started writing my first novel and in July 2013, I never imagined there would be so much more than writing involved in being a published writer.

I imagined I’d be writing most of the time, and alone all of the time.

Wrong on both counts!

I was misled, because writing on my own was actually what I had been doing for four months, while I wrote my first draft (I didn’t really know exactly what a first draft was back then!).

When I finished (or rather thought I’d finished) my novel in October, 2013, I didn’t really know what to do with it, at all, so I searched on the  Internet.

I found advice on other blogs and on specific Goodreads groups, which I had joined earlier in the year.

I gradually ‘lurked’ less and became more interactive by starting my own blog. I already had a personal Facebook account, so I set up a professional profile. I had a Twitter account, which I had been neglecting, taking it up again with renewed enthusiasm!

So I met and started networking with other writers.

A couple of months later, by January 2014, I had learnt that I needed, a cover designer, beta readers, an editor, and a proof reader, at the very least, as well as advice and support from other writers.

I caught on quickly, I’m a very sociable person in real life, so it wasn’t difficult for me to make friends virtually.

Writing is definitely not a solitary endeavour.

I’ve found that I need my writer friends for moral and practical support, for advice, for their knowledge, enthusiasm, criticism, and to feel part of a group and profession.

This is naturally reciprocal, or it will fizzle out. Friendship, whether ‘real’ or ‘virtual’ cannot be a one-way street. I also need and want to give back as much as I can.

I believe that the wonderful people I’ve met, and the literally hundreds of novels I’ve read over the last two years, have made this unexpectedly tough journey as rewarding as producing my novel.

Of course all this interaction slowed everything down, and I didn’t actually publish All Hallows at Eyre Hall until May 2014.

I thought that was it. I’d published and done the social network thing, so now I could go back to my corner and continue with my second novel.

Wrong again.

I realised I still need to market my novel, and keep up with Goodreads, facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, my blog, and the blogs I follow.

I also need to read. In fact I spend much more time reading than writing. Firstly because I need to read what my writer friends are writing; secondly, I need to know what readers are reading; thirdly I need to keep learning my craft; and finally I love reading even more than writing.

No wonder writing the second novel is more difficult than writing the first one!

Writing novels is not what writers do most of the time, and writing is definitely not a solitary endeavour.

I have to keep up with my social media, keep promoting my first book, carry on with my ‘real’ life as a teacher, mother, and grandmother, read, and write my second novel.

There’s another drawback. The second (and subsequent books) make you into a ‘real author’. Can you do it again? Can you do better this time?

Readers, writers, and the public at large now expect much more from you. You’re no longer a ‘debut author’: You’re an author and you’re expected to progress in your career.

It’s a lot of work and a lot of pressure…

Right now I’m about half way through my second book…. And I’ve no idea if I’ll ever finish it…. If I’m good enough to do it twice…. If it’s worth it….

Well, there it is. I got it off my chest. I’ve expressed all my doubts and fears, for the moment! More ranting next month! Or perhaps I’ll have something more positive to say… lots of words can be written in thirty days, can’t they?

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If anyone else would like to take part in this monthly Insecure Writer’s Support Group Blog hop, details below:

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time. 

Let’s rock the neurotic  writing world!

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