Recently, Cristina Guarino and I were talking via Twitter and email about whether authors (both published and as-yet unpublished) should refrain from writing negative book reviews. As a writer who hopes to be published one day, Cristina was concerned whether her reviews – even if they were constructive and offered strengths as well as weaknesses – could damage her reputation in the long run. This reblogged post is the result of her musings, and I found it fascinating and well-argued. In fact, it made me think about my own book reviewing “policy.”
When I was a freelance music journalist, I was obligated to be fair yet honest about the music I listened to. I’d talk about what I liked as well as what I thought could use improvement, but never veered into snarky or disrespectful territory. That’s been my approach for book reviews, too. And though I love or like most everything I read, there have been a few negative outliers…
The mentality I’ve had is that over time, if I were to become a published author, I’d keep reviewing books I enjoyed but refrain from reviewing anything less than than a “3 out of 5.” After reading Cristina’s piece, though, I wonder if I should adopt that change now. What do you think? Do you mind occasional negative (yet constructive, not blasting) reviews from “writers in progress” who are also working on their own novels? Or should they be more mindful of how those reviews might reflect upon them? Please don’t hesitate to answer honestly. I’d like to know if there’s something I should do differently, or stop doing altogether, if my current reviewing method might prove harmful later on.
As anyone who visits this blog or follows me on Goodreads can see, I’ve been pretty invested in book reviewing lately. It’s something I started way back when I blogged for Let The Words Flow and continued through my still-ongoing stint contributing for Paper Droids. I enjoy it, but lately, I’m questioning the practice.
I most recently reviewed Eleanor Herman’s Voice of Gods and Legacy of Kings. I was thorough and honest in my reviews, and even mentioned in my review for LoK that I want to be more straightforward with my reviews and ratings; I used to be the kind who would mostly rate books 4 and 5 stars for pure enjoyment factor and never really look deeper. Now that I’m a more “serious” writer, I want to take a more analytical eye to the works I read.
But while writing these, I felt an old, nagging…
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