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.”
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.
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?
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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