Thursday, June 2, 2011

My Life In Review: The Other Side of the Novel...The Reviewers Side

I once did a post on how an author today has many responsibilities...or wears many hats. (You can read it here.) One of those jobs I have is as a book reviewer. I know with that line several of you author's eye brows shot up to your hair line. If you want to know about review guidelines they are here. Anyways, there are two sides for me when reviewing. I'm sure it's that way for authors who review as well. I was thinking about this conflict and decided to address it. Here are a few scenarios I've had to deal with.

  • When I first started reviewing I accepted everything offered. Bad idea. There were many books that just were not my taste. There was no way I could offer an honest review. I had nothing to compare too. Furthermore I didn't enjoy the genre. So i was already tainted. Enter conflict...I had committed to it but I knew I couldn't lie. As an author I knew the hope that the book's author had to see the review. On the reviewer side I didn't want to lie or feature something I did not like. So I walked away.
  • Now that I have established myself as a reviewer I review for regular blog tour companies. If you aren't familiar with this concept I'll explain it. Most blog tour services have a website you can go to, check out books, and offer to review. Once you've done this enough they add you to a regular email list. On that list you will hear first about any new books for review. I love blog tours. They are fun. The two I appreciate the most are Novel Publicity and Pump It Up Blog Tours. Now what to do if you commit to a book and you don't like it? Thankfully I haven't had that happen before...but there is a great post that addresses that here
The author/reviewer role I try to balance is hard. On one hand you know how hurtful a bad review or even a mediocre one can be. As a reviewer you have a reputation to maintain to provide your followers with honest feedback. In the end I have always gone with my gut.

But then there is the retaliation weakness. As an author if you offer a bad review, refuse to review or showcase a book you don't support you are vulnerable to an attack by that author or their friends. They can go to websites and give bad reviews to any of your work. Has it happened to me...not yet. Do I expect it? Let say I wouldn't be surprised.

No with all that being said I don't regret what I do. I adore it. Before I ever started writing or reviewing I was a reader. Doing both jobs enables me to read even more.

So what are you thoughts? Are you a reviewer? Have you had any bad situations?


  1. I can see how this would be a hard line to walk. Thanks for posting the web sites. I look forward to reviewing books. It sounds like fun.

  2. I'm back :)

    I found this post very interesting since a couple of buddies and I just launched a group blog that accepts finished manuscripts (self published or what not) to review.

    The concept is great, but we're working out the bugs still. For instance, if the first 5 pages of a book hooks 2 out of 3 Hook'ers (our tag line) then we have to keep reading on. One of the ladies in our group worries we'll be so busy reading other people's stuff we won't have time to write anymore. It could happen.

    I'm also worried about the retaliation as well. Though we specifically say we will give NO bad public reviews (we just send back our notes and say sorry, it didn't hook us). The only reviews we'll give is for those that we really, really liked. This way no one gets hurt. No one will even know they submitted their work to us in the first place and got rejected. It's all private. BUT, someone who thinks we did them wrong could still be mean about it.

    Reviewing is tough business. I feel horrible when I read a self-published work that's been for sell for months that's really in need of more work and more editing. It's tough to say sorry but you just didn't hook me enough to want to read on.

    You gave me a lot to think about. Thanks for your post.