September 2016
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BTT: Honesty

btt2.jpgI 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 think we all know where this question is coming from. No, I do not think that we are obligated to put up a good review of a book. I think every time the author sends their book out for reviews, they are taking a chance that the reviewers won’t like it; they are not paying for free positive marketing. I’ve heard that even negative marketing helps – now all those blog readers know your book exists and even if you don’t like it, one of them might like the premise for it – but none of this impacts what I say in my reviews.  I say what I think.

I don’t have a disclaimer on my blog and I’m not afraid to give a negative review. I will be polite, however; I will describe what I did not like and I will describe what I did like. I recently read a book which I was dying to love, both author and publicist were incredibly nice and helpful, but I found something in it that I did not like. It would have been easy to leave that out of my review since I loved the rest of the book, but I didn’t, because it is my goal here to be honest and to help other people find great books to read. If my problem doesn’t bother them, that’s great, they should go read the book, but if it does, now they know it exists.

I’ve never been harassed by an author. I’ve been fortunate in that even when I do not like something, the author has never lashed out at me.  And I get a fair number of review copies. I will continue to review books. I will not trash any of them; I will give each of them a fair shot. If I don’t like it, I’ll say so, but I’ll try to find the positive. If there is no positive, I don’t know what I’ll do, but I’d email the author before I wrote anything in this public space if I found the book to be absolute trash. I have read trash, but luckily none of it was sent to me for review!

What are your thoughts?

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12 comments to BTT: Honesty

  • I agree completely! Integrity plays a big part in reviewing too, and if you can’t review something honestly, then you shouldn’t review it at all. Of course, being polite about it is important too. =)

  • I’m curious though… what recent events? (Please do tell! I must have missed it.)

  • I agree with one exception. I will not contact the author before my review. If I read it, I will review it–honestly and professionally. Come see my answer.

  • I so agree with you on letting the author know if the review is totally negative. I think it is considerate.

  • I agree trashing an author does nothing for the review. I would much rather hear what was wrong with the book and not what was wrong with the author when they wrote the book. Great answer!

  • As a reader, I appreciate honest reviews. As a blogger, I feel an obligation to write honest reviews.

  • I’ve never been harassed by an author, though I am honest as well. Here’s hoping it doesn’t happen!

  • Very good answer – but I probably think that because I agree with everything you say! Also, I feel that one of the reasons I started “book blogging” in the first place was to help myself remember what I’ve read, and how I felt about it at the time I read it. And if I’m not honest in what I write, not only will I be misleading others, I won’t be helping myself at all. So as long as I’m not discourteous, I don’t see any reason why I shouldn’t say what I think.

  • If I don’t like the copy I’m supposed to be reviewing, I’ll normally let the author/agent know. There have been a couple of times where I’ve been told NOT to post a negative review. This works out well for everyone because I don’t have to review a book I dislike, and the author’s reputation isn’t tarnished.

    I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again–you have to be really careful about what you say on your blog. I’ve had well-known authors e-mail me and thank me for my positive reviews, and this is for novels that were published quite awhile ago! I’ve also had a kind of running e-mail battle with a fanatical Christian individual who thinks I’m evil incarnate because I appreciate “American Psycho.” The internet really is transparent! “Nuff said.

  • Love it or hate it, I can’t be anything but honest. Or to my mind, what is the point.

    People are being asked to put their hard earned money down on the counter to buy these books, and I don’t want someone doing it for a book I thought was awful but was afraid to say so. That doesn’t mean being rude…but really, once the book is published it is fair game for anyone’s opinion…even bloggers. I don’t contact an author or publicist before I post a bad review…no more than I do before I post a great one.

    With Google Alert, I assume they know both soon enough.

  • I agree, tell the good and bad and let the reader decide.

  • I’m on board with you!

    I’m honest in my reviews, good, bad, or meh. I use excerpts from the text to give examples, backing up how I formed my opinion.

    I’m considering a review policy, if only to cut down the number of blind e-mails I get offering review copies of books that don’t at all fit my reading profile.