Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Should Authors Review Books?

Michelle Argyle, a writerly aquantence of mine started (or rather joined) an interesting conversation about Authors reviewing books.

This got me to thinking. How do I feel about the whole subject? So here are my personal thoughts.

As writers, we read. So we are consumers of books. Some may argue that we also 'professionals' in the world of writing and books (especially as published) so we should not comment on the works of others. However, I take a different point of view.

First of all - I always review books from a readers stand point, not a writers. Yes I do make comments about how well 'written' I think the book was. But you don't have to be a writer to be able to see the quality of writing. Secondly - I never bash. And finally - I am always honest. I think of reviews as if a friend had asked me - how did you like that book - do you think I should read it/buy it?

No imagine that your friend asked you this question about a book for which you knew the author. You knew your friend well enough to know that she would not like the book and would find it a waste of time and money. Would you tell her to get the book? Say another friend asks you about a different book (to which you also know the author). But in this situation you did not like the book at all. You felt the focus was too much on the action and not on the characters. So you tell your him to read it. Why? Because that is the kind of book he loves to read.

Do you see where I am going?

What really helped me nail down my feelings on this subject came from my 'other job' - computer programming. I am a computer programming professional and am often called on by many to review, rate, or recommend both software and hardware. Do I decline because I am a professional in that field? Nope. I give my honest feedback and the best recommendation I can. But here is the difference - I comment on the work and the value of the product. Not on the developer or company. So I will take the same approach to reviewing books.

It is perfectly fine for me to like or not like a book - even as a writer or author. And it is fine for me to share that opinion as long as I don't degrade to attacking the author. And I share my honest opinion of the book.

What do you think? Am I way off base?

P.s. Star ratings are a scale, not an either or. Three stars means they liked it. So you can get a good review and a three start rating. Rant over.


  1. I agree with being honest and no bash. I do review books from a writer's POV, but I try not to focus on the bad. I always give what worked and what didn't work, but could be improved upon in future stories.

  2. I've struggled with this a lot. When it came down to it, I realized two things:

    1) I only ever give my honest opinion about the novels that I read, and never comment about the author.

    2) If I'm racking up bad karma simply by giving my honest opinion on something, then the karma system is out of whack.

    So, I will continue to review books, because I want to share my thoughts. That's why I got into blogging and writing to begin with.