Another blogger, whom I respect a great deal, does some wonderful reviews on his site. He’s got a set of rules about book reviews that I admire. He always buys the book instead of taking free copies. He says this is to help him gauge if the book was worth the cost. Another thing, he builds in a section where he mentions what he thinks could’ve been done better. This helps him avoid doing an over the top gushing review.
Last week, I’d finished reading his book, ‘American Goddesses’. I posted a review on Amazon, then sent him a private note on Twitter letting him know he could email me if he wanted a more in-depth critique. We ended up having a wonderful conversation! Not just about his book, but writing in general and the nature of reviews. One of his suggestions was for me to start posting more comprehensive reviews here.
I’m still thinking about that, and any commentary from my followers is welcome! Would this interest you? Would my opinion (for that’s all a review really is) be interesting to read?
I don’t do super-comprehensive reviews on Amazon. I see that site as a say something nice, don’t slam a book place for a review. If I can’t give it a 4-5 star rating, I won’t. Rather, I’ll contact the author privately and let them know I won’t be posting a review, inviting them to contact me directly if they want an honest reason why.
Authors are touchy people. We’re emotionally tied to our work, and we crave the praise. Hearing someone didn’t care for your ‘baby’ is hard. A bad review can, however, benefit the author as long as it’s constructive. Like any other craft, writers have to learn from their mistakes. We need to be open to what does and doesn’t work, take the criticism with the praise, and be able to separate what’s helpful from what’s just plain mean.
The reason I hesitate about writing reviews here is simple: I fear retaliation. I could review a book here, do my best to balance the good with the bad, only to have the author blast my own work in return. There are those out there who cannot take being told their work isn’t an instant classic with grace.
So, to review or not to review? What do you think?