This is my Insecure Writers Support Group post for December 2023.
Please stop by their blogs and say thank you.
December 6 question: Book reviews are for the readers. When you leave a book reviews do you review for the Reader or the Author? Is it about what you liked and enjoyed about your reading experience, or do you critique the author?
This one is complicated. Not only has my perspective changed, but being honest is going to reveal a side of me I'd rather not.
I became a voracious reader before I became a writer. I began leaving reviews that praised stories I enjoyed, but I wasn't shy about saying what I didn't like, if one didn't meet my expectations. As I learned more about fiction writing - about what authors *should* be doing - my negative reviews turned harsh. Too harsh.
When I finally published, that created a huge dilemma. Not only did I learn what it was like to be on the receiving end of a negative review, my relationship to other authors had changed. I was no longer just a reader. They were my colleagues.
I fully realized the value of supporting them. I also realized that the average reader wasn't as picky as I am.
That said, I still felt a duty to the readers who followed my reviews. If I suddenly began giving every book 5 stars, whether it deserved it or not, I'd let them down. But if I wrote an honest review of a lousy to mediocre book, I could harm another author, and possibly myself, if they or their fans chose to retaliate.
For a long time, I stopped leaving reviews entirely. I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings with a less-than-stellar review, or by implying I didn't like their book because I declined to leave one (the 'if I can't give 5 stars, I won't review' policy I'd considered). I was happy to announce new releases, etc., and celebrate publicly, but I shied away from commenting on quality.
I've continued this policy for the most part. (If you want my honest opinion, you'll have to swap private critiques or hire me for an edit. LOL) I'm not really sure how else to handle it. I've begun leaving occasional reviews on retail sites, but they are few and far between.
What about you?
Are you published. Has that changed how you review?
IWSG is the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. It's a monthly bloghop that offers a safe haven for writers to express their feelings and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. It's also a venue for offering support, both in the form of comments and positive posts. Writers of all kinds are welcome.
We 'meet' the first Wednesday of every month. If you're interested in learning more, click on the link above. And don't be intimidated by the size of the group. We're not expected to visit everyone on the list.