Thursday, November 20, 2008

Booking Through Thursday: Review Books

btt button

Suggested by JM:

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 enjoy answering BTT questions, I do. First, they always give me something to post about--and some days I need the prompt. Second, they give me something relevant to post about! Such is the case with this week's question. I've addressed it here and there in the past. But it's a topic I could go on and on about.

Every reviewer/blogger has choices to make. Do they review only books they love/like? Or do they write reviews of books they don't like? How blatant should they be about it? Do they accept review copies from authors and publishers? Or review only books they buy, own, or borrow?

Now for me and my choices.

I review EVERY book that I complete. There have been a *few* exceptions. There has been a book or two that I forgot to review, it set there by the computer--usually got covered up at some point--and then by the time I realize I haven't reviewed it...I've forgotten the book completely. Still for every three hundred or so books, that only happens once or twice. So essentially every book.

I do accept review copies. From authors. From publishers. But I don't promise a review--positive OR negative. I promise to give every book I receive the 50 page test. If I'm not hooked by 50 pages, I'm not obligated to finish it. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don't. But I don't guarantee anything.

I do state that my reviews are honest ones. I'm not afraid to write negative reviews. I'm not afraid of receiving hate mail. My philosophy is that if authors can't get past a negative review now and then, they're the ones with the problem...not me. When an author becomes published--then you've opened up the door to criticism. Some will like your book. Some will love it. Some will think it's the best book ever and recommend it to their friends. Some will be bored. Some will hate it. Some might even not think it's worth the paper it's printed on. You've got to take the good with the bad and ugly. You can't please everyone. Especially if you're Stephenie Meyer.

I *do* recommend bloggers write review policies and post them on their blogs. This is for both parties really. It gives you the opportunity to express how you feel about the subject, and it allows them to see if you're a good match for what they want and expect. I think it is the respectable thing to do. You're honest. You're up front. Negative reviews can't be seen as a sneak attack if your policy is clearly stated!

I also enourage authors and publishers to read my site--explore the archives, get a sense of what I do, what I like, what I could potentially offer them.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Anonymous said...

You've said it all and is beautifully stated. If authors couldn't handle negative reviews, which have 50/50 chance, they shouldn't even bother handing books out for publicity. I think our society has become too afraid to speak the truth, instead it's advertising in careful words, euphemisms, and cliches that are vague and ambivalent. I don't believe there is anything so bad that will get past an editorial team and book agent to be published, but still not every book merit a 5-star rating. As long as the reviewers speak the truth of his/her opinion and is backed by examples, then even a negative review is a good review.

I never adopted the 1-5 scale because I find it very difficult for the sake of consistency. I might have come across a book that ultimately is the book and so I should give it a 6 stars? I like Times Magazine's scale---Read, Skim, or Toss. But I usually don't overtly state a rating, I try to strike a balance of the good and bad.

I should seriously consider posting review policies. Given my spontaneous nature, it will take me a while to verbalize them. I don't review all the ARCs---especially the ones that aren't up my alley.

Anonymous said...

I've had a review policy on my blog for a while now and it gives me much comfort that it's there! I review every book that I read to and also the ones I give up on halfway through.

SmilingSally said...

I respect you and the wonderful work you do. However, I disagree with the whole idea of the necessity of stating the obvious: that I am a honest reviewer. Please come see my answer.

Michele said...

And this is why, Becky, that I come to your blog for no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is reviews! You've certainly got my respect and I hope it shows when I add one of your reviewed books to my TBR pile. :)

MotherReader said...

I am seriously impressed that you review every book you read. I doubt that I review even half of the novels I read, and when I do, it's fairly random. Driven less by how much I liked or even disliked the book, and more by how much I feel like writing about it.