The Controversy Regarding Book Reviews

I thought it would be appropriate to follow my post about editors with a post about Book Reviews because I recently found out that a friend of mine, who writes, claims to only read for “entertainment”, and so doesn’t say anything about the writing of a book in a review.  This caused me to challenge the honesty of this friend’s reviews, and reviews are called into question in regard to their honesty over and over again.

After all, Amazon recently adopted new rules in regard to writing book reviews for them, some of which seem out of line like the one I recently read about and signed a petition against that says that if you are friends with a writer/author on Facebook or Twitter, they will not post your reviews of those writer/authors’ books.

Why do I think this rule is out of line?  Because as a writer, I have been taught the importance of networking as well as the fact that many successful writers are willing to give advice to up-and-coming and wannabe writers, so these newbies seek to connect with them.  I am connected to many people on Facebook, Twitter and even here on this blog that are writers/authors, that I have never met face-to-face and do not know personally.  Therefore, to say that I cannot post a book review of their work is ridiculous.

Why is Amazon putting such ridiculous rules regarding Book Reviews in place?  Because of the many dishonest people who write raving 5-star Book Reviews for family members, close friends, or even, (and yes, sadly, this does happen), a writer/author who will pay them or give them some kind of reward for writing a positive Book Review.  I understand why Amazon would want to stop these types of reviews.  However, to assume that everyone falls into one of these categories just because they are connected to the writer/author through social media is wrong.

When my friend told me about her Book Reviews, I asked her why she doesn’t give an honest review mentioning the writing (because she said she doesn’t write anything about the writing in the review.  She simply focuses on the story line)?  Her response was she doesn’t want to seem harsh or hurt the writer’s feelings, to which I responded that it is quite possible to write an honest review without being harsh.  I told her I do it all the time.

Yes, as you know, if you visit here often, I write quite a few Book Reviews and not everything I say is in praise of the book.  If I think the writer needs to work on something, I say so.  If I don’t really like the story, I say so.  However, I always do it in the kindest words I can think of, and even if I struggle to find something positive to say, (which is rare, but did happen when I reviewed A Fine Piece of Chocolate), I find something to say to encourage the writer because as a writer myself, I hope that when I finally have something out there for review, that the reviewers will be kind and encouraging, but completely honest.  After all, I have been told by many writers who already reached a level of success, that to be a writer, you need to develop a “thick” skin, not only because of the many rejection slips you may receive, but also because of the many negative Book Reviews some people may write.

What do you think?  Do you write any Book Reviews?  Are your Book Reviews honest and do you review both the story line and the writing?

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