I’m going to start with a disclaimer, because about a week ago I did something funky to my shoulder, so in addition to having worked last night – and missed my prep time for this post – I took pain meds before writing it. Lord only knows how this is going to come out…
This is a post about book reviews, the golden currency of publishing, though I’m not touching the current dust-up over authors behaving badly toward reviewers. My post is on a much smaller scale.
I recently joined Netgalley, which is a service used by publishers where they’ll give free copies of selected books in return for reviews. That simplifies things quite a bit, but my logic for joining went something like this: I have a blog. I often struggle for blog content. I read lots of books and love to tell people about them. Sometimes I post reviews on Goodreads & Amazon.
Therefore, if I publish reviews on my blog, I’ll have a new source of content and build an audience.
And free is good.
For example, my last post for the Spellbound Scribes was a book review. Jump HERE if you want to see what I thought of “Prosperity”, a fantastic new Steampunk novel by Alexis Hall that I obtained through Netgalley. In addition to my blog post, I published the review on Amazon and Goodreads. I would have shouted this one from the mountaintops, because it’s a great read, but what happens when I don’t absolutely love a book?
My friend Amanda writes book reviews for her blog (jump HERE for today’s post), for Netgalley, and for the Vampire Book Club. They’re sharp, insightful, and often cost me money because she makes the books sound so good. Every now and then I’ll be reading a book and send her a snarky comment about it, and she always calls me on the carpet when I give said snarky-commented-book a 4-star rating on Goodreads. She has no problem calling a dog a dog, while I tend to abide by the kindergarten rule of, “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”
I happened to be sitting next to Amanda at a master class given by Kristen Lamb. She’s a great (hysterically funny!) teacher, with some very wise things to say about establishing your author brand through blogging. And you know what KLamb said?
Authors shouldn’t put book reviews on their blog.
Kristen’s rationale goes something like this:
- If an author says something nice in a book review, no one will believe them because they’re, well, TeamAuthor.
- Conversely, if the author says something harsh in a review, that’s bad form because members of TeamAuthor shouldn’t tear each other down. We get enough of that from TeamEveryoneElse.
Those are good points, and I have to say there’s a solid chance my “Prosperity” review will be the last one I post to a blog – though I’ll still put reviews on Amazon & Goodreads.
Taking things from a slightly different perspective, I recently saw a Goodreads review written by KJ Charles, a fabulous author who I tend to get a little crazyfangirl over. Ms. Charles gave a book 3 stars, and just because of that, I won’t likely read it. My reaction suggests that whether you’re influencing one person or 100,000, you need to pay attention to how you wield your clout.
When it comes right down to it, I’d much rather beta-read someone’s work than write them a book review after it’s published. Beta reading is fun, because things are still malleable and you can balance your criticisms by calling out the good stuff. What do you think? Are you an author, and if so, do you write reviews? Where do you publish them? Do you ever give one-star reviews? I don’t, because I worry I’ll end up on a conference panel with the recipient of my negative energy. Leave me a comment, because I’d love to know what you think.