I’m going to tempt the gods of arguments and broach the topic of authors reviewing books. Stepping outside my comfort zone of live and let live is not easy for me, but I’ve been pondering this point for a long time. Much like last week’s post, I’ve tucked away my writer hat and kept my Reader Bowler on for this post.
There is a heated and long discussion revolving around Amazon and Goodreads review policies, and many valid pros and cons have been raised. That isn’t what this is about. This post is a peek into why I worry about leaving reviews, and why I’m hoping to kick that worry’s ass to the curb.
As a writer, you are encouraged to remember your professionalism at all times, to not engage in arguments in social media regardless of topics. Part of that is not wanting to alienate your potential and existing audiences. Part of that is just being a professional in this day and age where nothing is every truly deleted. This professional tightrope writers cross is strung over a minefield pitted with incendiary devices, to the point some of us are loathe to even step foot on the ladder leading to the tightrope.
I have my umbrella and I’m going to venture out a few feet, and hopefully I’ll make it across with all limbs attached and not smeared across the battlefield below.
As reader, I share my enjoyment of stories through reviews. As a writer, if I share that same opinion, I’m courting disaster. How is that fair to the plethora of well-written books out there or me? Why should I have to stifle my opinion on a book because I happen to write stories? Why do whispered warnings of “be careful what you say, because if you upset the wrong person, they’ll tank your books” make my stomach clench? And at what point did I think it was okay to bow to that?
When I first started out writing in 2011, I did so under a pen name. This was before the mega rise of ebooks, so my reviews under my name were few and far between. Then as I began collecting more and more books, I wanted to share my “You have got to check this out!” excitement, but other, more experienced veterans warned me to reconsider. Too many had felt the backlash of leaving an honest review and then getting shredded or accused of abusing their “writer” status against another. Even worse, some became victims of retaliatory reviews.
Here’s the thing. Writers are readers. Did you get that? WRITERS ARE READERS. Not only are we part of one of the most supportive artistic communities, but if we discover a great book, we want to share far and wide. Nowadays, too many of us are hesitant to do that. Why? Because we’re told if we’re a writer, we must know this other writer and therefore are biased in our reviews. Or, on the flip side, we failed to give a five star review, ergo we must be green with envy at the brilliance shining before us. Or, even worse, we only did that review to bribe someone to give us one.
Yes, there have been situations like these, but that is not the majority. There will always be those whose sole goal in life is to reach for the stars and never pay attention to whose toes or backs they step on, but that is not the majority. That is the minority. And as writers, and readers, we can’t let the minority control what we, the majority, do. It’s not right.
So I’ve decided to begin leaving more than just the starred reviews I normally leave. If I feel a book deserves a line or two of gushing praise, I’m going to give it. Not just under my real name at Amazon, but under Jami Gray’s name in Goodreads, because readers, regardless if they’re authors or just readers, should not quail from sharing their love of a great book.
Us authors, we write for you readers, and we want to make sure our stories touch you and leave an impression. It’s why we write and continue to write.
So no matter if you moonlight as an author, a pink alpaca or bookworm who can devour faster than the speed of light, leave a review for your favorite reads. Show your love and maybe we’ll manage to give the Negative Nellies a sunburn.