For those of you still with me, brace yourselves.
Amazon's ToS says you're not allowed to review competing products. For authors, that means you're not supposed to review books on Amazon.
Well, I wonder if anyone considered that most authors were readers long before they became writers. In my humble opinion, this is one way Amazon uses to be able to remove sock puppet reviews with zero backlash. If someone goes to the site and slams a ton of books that aren't theirs into the ether, Amazon can remove them and point to their ToS as reason.
Okay, I get that. I can even get behind it because it makes sense. You don't post a crappy review on a book just to drag it down in the ranks so yours can shine.
Someone said, "Authors reviewing authors is unprofessional. Once we've written books, we can't appreciate books like we used to."
It's this I have an issue with.
You see, I'm an author and editor, and I can still read a book where I get totally lost in the scenarios, characters, and world.
Do I see errors more prominently now? Yes, I do.
Does that ruin the story for me? Nope.
Does that mean I don't make the mistakes I see? Nope.
I understand books won't be error free. Hell, most trade published books have errors. But as a person, I'm allowed to be bothered and voice my opinion.
I don't take ARC copies for review. When something happens and I either end up not being able to read and review the book or I don't like it, I feel terrible about it. I decided long ago to only take books for review once a year, in December, during my big event, and I buy each and every one I choose (yeah, I like having the little "Amazon Verified Purchase" thing on my review).
I refuse to rate a book less than three stars. Why? Because anything less than that and I don't finish reading the book. How can I review something I haven't read all of? If it kept my interest to the last page, it deserves more than two stars. That, in and of itself, is worthy of three stars.
Professionalism denotes I contact the author privately (if I choose to do so) if I find a gross number of errors, not me going into the realm of internet and slamming the title (though I'd be within my rights to do so). If I just didn't like the story? Well, then it's up to me as a reader to stop reading the title and let it go. If the author asks, I'll tell them. If not, I don't lose sleep over it.
I do think we all need boundaries of what we will and won't do.
Here's the crux of the issue: Would I say something in my review that I wouldn't say to the author directly? Absolutely not. If I read a book and have a thought, I'd be willing to discuss the why and where with the author all day. Again, that doesn't mean I don't make the same mistakes, it means it's easier to see errors in someone else's work than it is my own. This is why we have beta-readers and book reviewers. If we won't be honest, who will be?
Let me be transparent with you all for a moment. If I didn't write book reviews, or hold my blog's big review request event each year, how many of you would lose out? What is it you'd be losing?
If authors didn't review books, how many reviews do you really think there would be?
I've been reading since I was very young. I took weekly trips to the library beginning at age six, and I devoured up to ten books a week. When I realized I could help others find great books by providing feedback in the form of a review, I jumped at the chance to do so. As a bonus, this helps the authors find readers and increase their review numbers.
How many people pay for a review? Why do they do that? Well, because reviews matter. Those paid ones aren't even guaranteed to be positive.
Not everyone is going to love every book--that's nonsensical. But for anyone to tell me I shouldn't be writing reviews because I write books is also nonsensical. Could I burn a bridge or two? Yes, I could. But anyone who takes my review and turns it negative won't be back to ask for another one anyway, right? Could they troll my books? Yes, they could.
Will that stop me? Nope.
Why? Because I feel I've done more good than harm, and trolls are easy to spot (readers can tell).
Here are most of my reviews. To date, I've published almost 100 on Amazon.
If I can't be professional about a negative review as much as I am about a positive one, I'm in the wrong business.
It all boils down to this: I'm a person who loves books. I'll continue to do what I did (recommend books to other people), before the internet existed and before I became an author, until I can no longer type. No one will come between me and my books. Amazon kicks me off? Okay. I have a blog. Blogger shuts me down? Well, I'll go elsewhere. Either way, my reviews aren't going anywhere, and no one should expect them to or tell me I'm in the wrong. Making a blanket statement that calls reviewers who are also authors unprofessional... Well, it's unprofessional.
"Opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one, but no one really wants to hear them."
After all, a love of books and storytelling is why we all started writing, isn't it?
How many book bloggers have become authors later on? Does that make all the reviews they've written and plan to continue to write obsolete?
Is it fair of me to expect other people to review my books if I'm not out there writing reviews for someone else and paying it forward?
Get in here and give me your opinion. Just remember to play nice.
If I didn't do my event each year, what would you miss? If I quit writing reviews, what would you miss? Would you care? Why? What have you gained?
Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!