As an author, I spend a lot of time thinking about getting reviews. But today, I want to look at the other side of the coin.
I’ve been giving more book reviews lately. Why? Well, it’s a fun way to get out of my own head for a while, see what others are doing, and hopefully help other writers as well. We all want reviews.
Do I have guidelines for myself? You bet I do.
I try to be both gentle and positive. Writing a book is hard work, and putting together an interesting and cohesive novel is a real accomplishment. I find it amazing how many people manage to do this every day. Who says our society is becoming illiterate? Some days I wonder if more people are writing books than are reading them.
So, kudos to all authors. This is not an easy thing you have done!
I don’t have much respect for reviewers who make rude remarks (or include insulting memes) to get a laugh from readers. I have even less respect for them if they don’t write books themselves. I’m inclined to encourage all sincere attempts at creativity — be it musicians, fine artists, or writers.
Writers have a particular handicap, though. It takes far longer to read a book than to listen to a song or study a sketch. Our readers will be investing some serious time, even if they give up on the book. So, it is reasonable for a potential reader to want to know if this story is really worth the hours they will likely spend with it.
That means it is important for a review to be honest. I never like everything about a book and I’m sure you don’t either. Yet Amazon is full of reviews that make most books sold on the site sound perfect. Come on. We all know that isn’t true. Who writes these things?
The function of a review is to help another reader decide if they should read this particular novel. The most helpful thing a reviewer can do is point out what they enjoyed about the book and what gave them heartburn. There’s no reason not to do it with kindness, but it still needs to be done. A review entirely lacking in criticism isn’t a review, it’s an advertisement.
Disagree with any of the above? Feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to discuss it with you.
(A version of the above post was published on my general 46. Ascending blog as a preamble to re-posting all of my most recent reviews there. If you’d like to learn more about the seven books I’ve reviewed recently, all shown above, please check it out.)