Should Authors Write Book Reviews?

Kristen Lamb, author, social media sage, and guru for writers, recently penned an article titled “Three NEVERS of Social Media for Writers,” and now it’s got me thinking.

One of the things she recommends is never writing a bad book review. In fact, she suggests writers should not publish book reviews on their blogs at all: “Our BRAND is AUTHOR, not ‘book reviewer.’ My opinion is we can’t do both.”

book review form

Original Image from Microsoft Clip Art

In terms of publishing book reviews on my blog, I tend to agree. Only on rare occasions have I posted a review. But up until now, my hesitancy stemmed mostly from not wanting to change the tone of my blog. Given the number of books I read, I would soon be posting nothing else.

But now I’m wondering about the wisdom of reviewing books at all, either on my blog or on Amazon or Goodreads. As an author myself, is it a conflict of interest?

Like many of you, I read a number of books, and I try to leave reviews on most of them. Of course, I never leave anything scathing. I subscribe to the mantra “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Perhaps that’s a cop out—respectful negative reviews can be as helpful as positive ones—but that’s how I roll.

my amazon review profile

I find that mantra especially important when I review indie books. Independently published authors often struggle to gain visibility. If I’ve read their books and enjoyed them, leaving reviews is the least I can do. On the other hand, if the book wasn’t for me, I’ll stay mum.

But now I’m questioning if, as an author, I should continue to leave reviews. Does it hurt my author brand to be a reviewer? Although I approach it as a reader and try not to critique, does my writer’s hat get in the way?

I don’t suppose Stephen King or J.K. Rowling leave reviews. I’m not comparing myself to them, of course, but I suspect even less well-known, established authors don’t pen reviews online.

So what say you? Whether you’re a writer, reader, or both, do you think authors should review books, either on their blogs or on online book sites? Is one more acceptable than the other? 

Related Articles:

Lamb explores the topic further in: Is it FAIR for Authors to Review Other Authors? Do We Ruin the Magic?

And for yet another perspective, see literary agent Janet Reid’s recently published post: Query Question: Can Reviewing Books Hurt My Chances with an Agent? Though she doesn’t discourage the practice, she does suggest caution.

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standing color cropped tiny for blog posts

Carrie Rubin is the author of Eating Bull and The Seneca Scourge. For full bio, click here.


270 Responses to “Should Authors Write Book Reviews?”

  1. benzeknees

    I read quite a lot as well & only do a few reviews. My reviews are always honest & respectful. If I read a book where the plot seems to stretch my imagination a bit too much, I will say so but always in a respectful way & often with ideas on how a particular idea could be better in my humble opinion.
    I write reviews because, even though I am not currently published, I would like to be known as a thoughtful, kind reader with some name recognition before I try to publish for the first time.
    As far as Stephen King or J.K. Rowling – you only have to open a dust jacket to see their names linked to other books. It’s usually just a sentence like “Kept me on the edge of my seat,” says Stephen King.


    • Carrie Rubin

      That’s true–bigwig authors often write short blurbs for other bigwigs. And I imagine they only do it for books they like, so I suppose that’s similar to other authors only leaving reviews on the books they enjoyed.


  2. talesfromthemotherland

    This has set my head spinning… I too have left reviews, and now wonder if I should not be doing that at all! VERY interesting post! (that is not a review, just an aside) 😉


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