J is for Judgment

   Posted by: Faith   in Everything Else

I’ve heard a lot of debate recently over whether authors should also be book reviewers. As if having an opinion on a book you’ve read shouldn’t count anymore, once you’re published.

clinicalGuidelinesI can see both sides of the argument, and I think there are valid points on either side!

If you’re published, you’re part of a smaller community, and is it fair to cast judgment on your peers? Particularly when it comes to books you didn’t like—is it right to critique work from a fellow author? Won’t that mean bad press for you and some really awkward moments when you run into that author at an industry convention?

But on the other side, everyone knows that not all books are for everyone. So what if you don’t like Author X’s work and write a review explaining exactly why, leaving anything personal out of it (like any good reviewer, focusing only on the storytelling)? Aren’t we all mature enough to realize that it’s not personal? Hopefully Author X would, if she read your book in the future, judge it on its own strengths and weaknesses instead of retaliating against your bad review.

And then there’s the editor and the publisher to consider. Will they see your critique as a strike or attack against them?

I know some authors have worked around this potential conflict of interest by only posting reviews of books they like, ignoring the bad ones entirely. Kind of like positive reinforcement… ignore the bad stuff, praise the good, and eventually the good behaviors (books?) will prevail.

It’s a good idea, but where’s the honesty in that? I’d like to know what my favorite authors enjoy and dislike—it might give a little more insight into the way they tell stories.

How do you feel about authors writing book reviews?

This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 11th, 2012 at 3:24 pm and is filed under Everything Else. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 comments so far


I presume some don’t like to be judgmental on other’s controversial books.

April 11th, 2012 at 5:53 pm

Interesting post. I don’t see anything wrong with authors doing reviews, as long as they are honest. Personally, as an author, I don’t have the stomach to review a novel that underwhelmed me. But there are some really great book reviewer/authors who do it quite well. I’m over from A to Z if you want to pop by. Catherine

April 12th, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Joe — That’s probably true! But it’s more often a policy just in terms of the average novel, and not specifically to avoid the controversial books. Though, I’m sure some level of controversy factors in!

Catherine — It’s true, some authors are very good at doing both, but it’s the rare one who will post a “bad” review. I prefer honesty all around, no matter what!

April 13th, 2012 at 11:49 am

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