I generally don’t do book reviews. Here’s why:
Reviews can be a giant can of worms for a writer. On the one hand, I know how much we love to receive them, and are desperate to get more, but on the other hand they are a minefield of ethics, obligation (real and imagined), and social anxiety.
In the last few years, I’ve met a lot of writers and I always take the time to take a look at their books. Some have been good, some have been incredible, and a few have been…not so good. Despite the varying quality of writing, every writer I’ve met (with one exception) has been lovely.
(The exception was a guy who wasn’t going to self-publish because ‘that’s for people with no talent’. He also wasn’t going to bother with beta-readers for his 300,000 word novel, and had no intention of doing a second draft, even to check for grammar or spelling errors because ‘that’s what editors are for’. I have no idea what happened to him. I never saw him again, but I’m pretty sure he hasn’t found a publisher, despite the fact I didn’t see a single word he wrote.)
Most of the writers I know are sensitive souls. We pour a lot into our books. It’s our work, our job, but somehow it’s not the same as if we were accountants or engineers, and someone is checking over our calculations. Reviews, whether we like it or not, feel personal. Unless the writer is a massive ass and the book is actually offensive, I would not feel comfortable leaving a negative review.
If I start picking and choosing which books to review, then when I don’t want to review someone’s it’s pretty much a big sign saying that I didn’t like the book. I tend to suffer from a giant dose of social anxiety at the best of times, and I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I have decided to take the cowardly way out and not do any reviews of authors I know personally (whether we met online or offline).
There’s also the fact that there are a lot of dodgy review swaps going on of the ‘give me 5* and I’ll do the same‘ variety. Even if both reviews are done honestly, it’s just awkward as hell if someone gives me a good review and I can’t do the same. Again: steering clear completely.
As always, I’m happy to share the authors and books I love on my website and on Twitter and Facebook, but won’t rate them on Goodreads or Amazon.
Occasionally, I’ll come across a book that is just so fantastic that it blows me out the water (we all have those), in that case I’ll make an exception and shout about it from here to the moon. Pretty much the same way I would on the outernet.
If you want to review one of my books, then you are wonderful, and awesome, and I love you, but please don’t feel any obligation to do so. And if I’ve marked your book as ‘read’ on Goodreads but haven’t rated it, that’s no indication of anything. I’m just refusing to navigate the weird social obligation waters of reviews.