An author read my review of their book recently and liked it over on Goodreads today. Of course I had to jump over there and see what I said about their book sweating bullets the entire time over what sort of review I left. I always try to be nice, but a book is someone’s baby and it is easy to take feedback to heart. In this case it was a three star review, not glowing, but not awful either. Some aspects of the book didn’t work for me, but on the whole it was a good book. Whew, now to ponder what the ‘like’ meant… My paranoia has no end people I can go on and on.
But wait, don’t you review books as a hobby? Don’t you also accept books for review from authors all the time? Yes, my hobby is reviewing books I read, and I know that upon occasion authors are going to read what I think of their work. Yes, I also accept books from authors knowing full well they are going to read my review. I have warning in those cases though that the author is going to go over my feedback with a fine tooth comb and I am extra diligent in my efforts to express my opinion fairly, honestly and without misunderstanding. I also accept review books from publishers, as in the case that got me thinking today. I guess when I accept a review request from the publisher a part of me just assumed that most of the time the author is not going to be reading what I write, just the publisher. What is it they say when we assume… I have been living in this little dream-world where I am writing these reviews for most of the books I read not thinking the author, especially the big time authors that have thousand’s of fans and thousand’s of reviews, are going to even care what I think of their book. It still doesn’t happen often, but I think this is something I am going to run into more often as the blog grows and the more books I review.
I’m not sure what I think about all this or how I’m going to handle pissed off authors. Now I have had some authors react negatively to my reviews on several occasions, most of the time it is simply an upset message, but there was one case that I’m seeing has gotten me quite nervous over future author feedback from my reviews. I’m thinking a policy for how I handle upset authors is something I need to have in place. Probably a case of not responding, deleting and blocking aggressive authors. After all I expressed my opinion about their work, they returned the favor with their opinion of my opinion and we should just leave it at that. Part ways and never meet again. After all if I read their book and hated it I’m probably not going to be reading another one. Very few exceptions to this rule. Sherrilyn Kenyon being probably the biggest one and if she ever reads a negative review about one of her books that I wrote (and there are a few) I will probably die of embarrassment.
I think this befuddlement might stem from the reason for my writing reviews, and it isn’t for authors. It is for readers, and myself. I write to share with fellow readers my excitement, good or bad, for the book I just read. When I review I want to share what I liked or didn’t like with others to help them decide for themselves if they want to invest the time to read that book too. There are millions of books published each year and there is no way that any one person is going to read any more than a small teeny tiny percentage of the books they are interested in, so I review to help others narrow down the choices available to them. I also review for myself, so that I can remember what I thought of the author’s style of writing or what last happen in the different series I read. I do not review to stroke author’s egos, or even provide constructive criticism of how to improve their story. The author is the last person on my mind when I type up my review, but that might just be me. Maybe that should change… I don’t know. What I do know is I’m not being paid for this, nor do I want to be. When someone pays you to do something then they can dictate to you. I don’t want that. I want my reviews to be honest open opinions of what I think about what I read. I just didn’t take into account when I started that the authors would be reading the reviews I guess.
I know this is a lot of rambling and if you are reading this sentence I’m surprised you’ve stuck it out, little gold star for you. Like I said it is just some thought about author feedback as I work thought my feelings on the topic. What do you fellow reviewers think? How do you feel when you know an author read your review, especially when it doesn’t center around a review request? Do you have policies on how to handle aggressive angry authors? I’ll love to hear your thoughts in the comments…. Happy Reading, and reviewing.