Indie Authors: to review or not to review?

If I collected all the reviews I’ve written over the years, I would probably have enough to make a novel.

But when I don’t record what I read somehow, I pick up books that I’ve read before from the library or the bookstore or whatever.  I do.  I seriously do, especially series books and nonfiction.

If I did nothing but write fiction all day, I’d have more books and stories out, and I’d be a better writer.

But if I didn’t connect to anyone–I’d be too lonely and depressed to write.

If I never wrote another review, I’d never have to worry about alienating a reader with something I’ve written, for example, if I didn’t care for their favorite author’s latest book as much as they did.  And I’d never have to cope with the Blog Comments from Hell.

But if I didn’t give props to the people who inspire me, that’s just sad.  And if I had to live in fear of what I say all the time, I might as well quit writing now.

I’ve been back and forth on the subject of writing reviews lately:  should I or shouldn’t I?  I went a while without writing them after going to a workshop where I saw–in person I saw–an editor judge someone based on something that the editor had specifically been told they couldn’t judge writers on.  It was terrifying.  Suddenly all I could think was, “What if someone judges me for something I blog about?  What if someone judges me based on a review?  Oh crap, Facebook.” And so on.

So I mostly quit blogging, quit writing reviews.  Stopped doing a lot of things on Facebook that might, someday, get held against me.

In the case of Facebook, I feel like I’m doing the right thing, because the kind of posts that I started holding back on were the kind that made me mad when other people posted the same type.  Facebook is different than blogging–not by much, but enough.  When you post, your entries show up in other people’s feeds, and a lot of time, just skimming through Facebook entries, you can easily get dragged down by negativity and hate and resentment and repetition.  And more repetition.  And more…

Blogs?  They’re different because you have to go to a blog on purpose.  The entries have titles: a hint as to what you’re getting into.   You can get surprised, but you have a choice to get surprised.  In Facebook, you can get dragged down into despair from a thousand directions without having to make more than one click.  Twitter, too.

And book reviews?  You have to go looking for them, most of the time.  You have to want to know.

That’s not to say reviews and blogs don’t need some gentleness.  They do.  Blogs and reviews need to be generous, I think.  And short, because novels are otherwise not getting written.  Short stories.  This blog is easily a flash fiction–about 500 words.

But I didn’t get into this writing business in order to not express myself.  There’s wisdom…and then there’s life.   Now that I know a little more of the cost of being out in the world, I’ll do it differently.  But I still want to be there.

 

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4 Comments

  1. I found myself on an Amazon thread once which discussed at length both paid reviews and retaliation reviews. The short version I learner was this: don’t give a harsh review to a living author. Even if it’s someone big and famous, they may not care but their fans can also be crazy. (In the news today – but diff. Subject.)
    This may not be right, I admit. But if I like it, I’ll say so and why. If I don’t, so far, I keep it to myself.

    • De

      I mostly agree with that. If I finish a book, the worst review it can get is “meh.” I don’t finish the books that I give what I feel would be harsh reviews on. Why bother? If it’s no good, there are people out there who will say so (at great length). But I don’t need to spend my time on it.

      But a three-star review means, “I finished it. It wasn’t a waste of my time.”

  2. I’m always debating writing reviews. It almost feels like a conflict of interest now, since I’ve connected with so many other authors, whose work I happen to read. I worry that readers will think I am biased. Maybe I am biased. Down the rabbit hole I go…

    I love reading, though, and I love sharing my thoughts on good books I’ve read (and even the ones I thought were kind of meh).

  3. De

    Ugh, so true, so true.

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