Do you ever wonder why authors don’t usually write book reviews?
- Maybe they don’t read books. (Yeah,we hate those things.)
- Maybe they don’t have any opinions. (We…are…zombiiiiieeees)
- Maybe they don’t realize how important or awesome reviews are. (HA! As if…)
- Maybe they’re too scared. (Yeah, because writing books and having the world judge them isn’t scary at all….)
We authors probably know more about book reviews than anyone else out there. Authors live by these little star ratings and one-sentence opinions. (Or, sometimes, 800-sentence opinions. Bring it on.) Yet we grasp their importance only when we become authors. And then we feel guilty for not having reviewed every novel our bookwormy-heart ever devoured. But now . . . it’s too late.
We are now in the “magical author circles” and suddenly there are politics and emotions and hurt feelings and the giant fear of burning a bridge that will eventually COME BACK TO DESTROY YOU.
It’s really not that intense, but it could be. If I let it. 😉
A few years back, I wrote a blog post on whether or not authors should write book reviews. At the time, I’d just gotten contracted for the Out of Time Series and I was examining how I wanted to surge forward as an author. If you read the post, you’ll see that I don’t really come to a conclusion by the end. (And then you might ask yourself, “Why did she even write that blog post?” Don’t ask me…) But for some reason I thought writing a review meant I was open and honest with readers, and that not writing a review made me a chicken. (Bawk! Ba-bawk!)
Silly little naive author.
Why don’t authors post book reviews?
Come on, J. K. Rowling, why don’t you slam the author of 50 Shades of Grey? Why isn’t Sarah J. Maas rating any of her current reads as 2-stars on Goodreads? THE WORLD WANTS TO KNOW WHAT YOU HATE! And that’s just the problem. There is this thing called the author community. When you become an author you get mailed a special I.D. card and a rulebook that tells you exactly what not to do —
Just kidding. OH HOW I WISH THAT WERE TRUE. I floundered in my new-author-ness trying to figure out all the invisible, unspoken rules about how authors interact with each other. And here’s what I’ve found out:
Thumper’s mamma got wisdom. Let me tell you a bit about the author community:
- The author community is small. You wouldn’t think so, but it is. I’m friends with authors I fangirled over only 4 years ago. O.o
- The author community supports each other. We tweet each other’s books, we read each other’s books, we try to get each other’s books into libraries because we know that authoring is hard. Especially because we’re adulting at the same time. *passes out*
- The author community understands that it’s hard to write a book. Yes, even a two-star flop. And there’s the unspoken rule that we will not slam each other. (Though that doesn’t mean we’ll recommend said book.)
- The author community works together. Networking, tweeting, promoting, shout-outing, squealing, etc. WE ARE A FAMILY. We didn’t get to choose each other, we just wrote books and ended up here.
- The author community voices are loud. Think about it. This is why endorsements mean something. If I see Marissa Meyer’s quote on the cover of a book, I’ll probably pick it up. Because I adore Marissa and her taste in books. Can you imagine if Marissa started writing book reviews about how she didn’t like the plot in such-and-such a book? Everyone would listen. And that’s scary power in the bookish community.
These are some why you’ll rarely see authors writing reviews or giving a book a negative-rating. (Also, writing a review just means…more writing…and we have more important stuff to pour our writing time into. 😉)
Will Nadine keep writing book reviews?
I’ve been sumo-wrestling with this question for months, my friends. If you follow me on Goodreads, you’ll probably notice that sometimes I write lengthy reviews, and sometimes I jot just a single sentence. This is evidence of my turmoil. And as of last week I finally made a decision.
I will no longer be rating a book less than 4 stars on Goodreads.
Me no likey that there’s not a happy middle ground for me. I’m sacrificing something I enjoy. I enjoy being open, I enjoy being real. I enjoy sharing exactly what I liked and hated about a book. I enjoy helping readers find whether or not they’ll enjoy a certain book. There is so much that I like about writing book reviews. But giving that up is a price I must pay as an author. (Tweet this)
“But why, Nadine? WHY?!”
When I post a book review on Goodreads, it gets somewhere around 10 likes. Let’s assume that maybe 20 people saw the review and it helped 10 readers in that moment. I had to ask myself is it worth burning a bridge or hurting the reputation of an author friend so I can give 10 people a helpful review?
My answer: no.
Because those 10 people have other friends who review books. They’ll probably be able to find help from other reviews. And I want to support my author friends, even if some of them are writing books that I found to be slow, or a little too gritty, etc. It’s a fuzzy line, but I’ve chosen my side.
My solution to not writing book reviews, but still having an opinion.
Fear not, I have a solution! It’s called . . . private messaging. If you are a reader and you want to know what I thought about a book I recently marked as read (but didn’t rate or review it), just shoot me a private message. You can do that on pretty much any social media and I’d be happy to share more detailed thoughts with you, just like if we were chatting books over tea. 😊
I also still plan to leave reviews for books I like and some negative reviews if it’s a classic, some select non-fiction, or a super super super famous book. There is so much I could say, but imagine my surprise as I planned this blog post to see my dear friend, Sara Ella, post a video on the EXACT SAME TOPIC. Couldn’t have timed it more perfectly, so I’m commandeering her video to share with you all since she’s so delightful and concise. It’s only 5 minutes, but she sums up everything much better than I seem to be doing. 😁 (While you’re at it, you should subscribe to her Booktube channel. It’s my favorite ever.)
And there you have it. Before signing off, I want to make something clear: This is not an “advice for authors” post. This is the stance I’ve personally chosen to take regarding book reviews, but I know there are authors out there who do it differently. And that’s fine. Personally, I love reading other author’s reviews. Those brave souls. 😉
Your turn! Do you think authors should write reviews? Why or why not?