In defence of reviewers

Well my plea to newspaper editors the other week to become a full time reviewer hasn’t been picked up yet, but it seems like plenty of authors have responded to my call! I’ve recently been inundated with requests from hot new authors to review their work and I couldn’t be happier. In my mind it is a mutually beneficial deal; they get some publicity for their work and some soundbites for their webpage or publishers to use, and I get publicity when they post about my review, plus some new books to read!

I can understand from an author’s point of view however, that it may be a risky business for them. Reviewers have a rep for being snarky, overly critical and cruel for the sake of entertainment. Even if they aren’t like this, it must be hugely nerve-wracking to give the product of months’ and years’ effort, your baby that you’ve poured your heart and soul into, to give it to someone to actively judge.

Well as you can hopefully tell from my previous posts, I’m not the archetypal reviewer who will drag a book through the mud for fun. Even if I’ve not liked a book, I will still find at least one thing that’s positive about it, and try to make all criticism constructive and fair. It must be the teacher in me still.

While nasty reviews may be fun to read, I don’t feel it’s right to do that to an author, whether I know them personally or not. Whether I liked a book or not, someone was still brave enough to put themselves out there and actually put the idea in their mind on to paper. That to me is a huge deal, and I fully empathise that it’s a really scary thing to do. I’ve been told by countless people that I ‘have a book inside me’, but I’ve never actually put myself out there and done it. So who am I to slate someone who has? Besides, hopefully my reviews are still fun to read!

That’s not to say that I will pander to authors, and that you can come to me and be guaranteed a glowing review. It wouldn’t be fair on authors to be given false praise, and it wouldn’t be fair on the tens of people who come to me for an honest recommendation. If I haven’t enjoyed something, I will say. But I will always give a fair reason for it; maybe the style or genre isn’t my cup of tea, maybe the writing needs a bit of editing, maybe I’m just not in the right place to enjoy the story but I will be in a couple of years. Anyway, it’s only my opinion and I’m allowed it the same as anyone. And you can guarantee I will still have something nice to say about it, even if it’s just the font!

To any authors who have given me their work already and think this is aimed at them, it’s not! This is not my way of preparing anyone for a nasty shock. I just wanted to make my position clear, and in lieu of a policy page, I’d like authors to know what to expect when they make my day and give me a copy of their book.

So that’s now out the way, and I can carry on with the more pleasant task of reviewing books; from the well-known giants of literature to indie authors with their first work. I’m super excited! Oh, and all those newspaper editors that ignored me last week? You know where I am still!

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