Here’s today’s BTT topic:
I receive a lot of review books, but I have never once told lies about the book just because I got a free copy of it. However, some authors seem to feel that if they send you a copy of their book for free, you should give it a positive review.
Do you think reviewers are obligated to put up a good review of a book, even if they don’t like it? Have we come to a point where reviewers *need* to put up disclaimers to (hopefully) save themselves from being harassed by unhappy authors who get negative reviews?
I haven’t participated in BTT much at all lately since I tend to enjoy doing my own thing. This subject is important, though, because one of my favorite blogging friends experienced some trouble recently when she posted a negative review of a self-published book. The author was not happy, and slammed her with negative comments and lawsuit threats. I’m sure nothing will come of this, but it sure did scare a few fellow book bloggers!
When I started this blog, I had no idea it would become as widely read as it is. I started it as kind of a personal book diary, and my expectations were very low. Almost right away, though, a couple of other newbie book bloggers discovered (and promoted) me, and as they went on to even bigger fame in our blogging community, I was able to carve out my own little niche here at “Bloody Hell.” In just a few short weeks after establishing this site, I was contacted by a popular author to review one of his books, and there were also a few e-mails sent to me by other established writers thanking me for the positive things I had to say about their novels. What a shocker! Authors and agents read book blogs, and they read them more often than you or I are aware of. I’m constantly receiving inquiries about reviewing this or that novel, and some of these inquiries are by writers I’m familiar with. So, this is the point I’m trying to make: even if your blog is largely unknown, you must ALWAYS be aware of your audience. I can almost guarantee that at some point in your blogging career an author is going to read YOUR critique of his novel. I admonish you to be very careful about what you say.
This doesn’t mean that you have to lie. Knowing that posting negative reviews might present problems for me in the future, I developed my own simple rule about reviewing ARC’s, etc. Here it is:
If I don’t like the copy I’m supposed to be reviewing, I’ll let the author/agent know. There have been a couple of times where I’ve been told NOT to post a negative review. This works out well for everyone because I don’t have to review a book I dislike, and the author’s reputation isn’t tarnished. It’s as simple as that! I think books that have already been published are fair game, but keep in mind that undue negativity may lead to negative consequences, even if the novel has been published for a couple of years.
Also keep in mind that you’re dealing with people’s egos, and egos are fragile. You wouldn’t want someone to tear your work to shreds, especially not in a public forum. If you absolutely must review a novel that you don’t like, tactfully let your readers know that it didn’t appeal to you. Tactfully point out some of the reasons why it didn’t appeal to you. Keep the review short and move on. Your readers are smart people; they’ll know what you’re trying to say. You can’t go wrong if you do this, and no disclaimers are necessary.