Bad Reviews Not Allowed?

I came across something on Twitter recently. A prominent author said that if you are going to tweet something negative about an author’s work, do not @ them. I thought this was a bit silly, but I know for any celebrity any thread can turn into absurdity really fast, and ultimately have nothing to do with the work. So, okay.

But then the author referenced negative reviews in general. She said negative reviews should never be written unless the work is causing real harm. And many prominent authors and critics were in agreement.

I find this troubling. We criticize the work of politicians. We criticize the work of artists. We criticize the work of athletes. We criticize the work of everyday people we work with. As humans we criticize EVERYTHING. Is the criticism always fair? No. But how does it make sense to say negative book reviews should never be written?

I understand if she’s saying as a prominent author, she won’t write something negative about another book because of her status in the publishing world. But I vehemently disagree with the notion that no one should write negative book reviews.

There are people who have very little disposable income who love books. And I know many of them use reviews to determine what to spend their money on. If we live in a world full of 5 star reviews, then there’s no point in writing reviews at all.

I still have my booktube channel, though I haven’t posted in a really long time, and I’ve been completely honest when discussing books I’ve enjoyed and books I’ve hated. Why in the world would an author encourage anything different?

I don’t understand the logic and I will continue to be honest about what I read.

NY Review of Books’ Founding Editor has Died

Robert Silvers was the founding editor of one of the most known book reviews. He stayed in the position of editor for more than 50 years.

I don’t know him, but I know the importance of book reviews. I’m not the biggest fan of writing or reading them, but that doesn’t mean the importance is any lesser. Books, like any form of entertainment, need reviews. The entire idea behind Goodreads is to give the everyday reader a chance to share their thoughts on books.

Take a moment to recognize how important book reviews are, and then how important it would have been more than 50 years ago to start a book review. 

Rotten Tomatoes for Books?

Rotten Tomatoes is a review aggregate site that compiles TV and movie reviews into one page. The reviews are all written by professional critics of various publications. And now Lit Hub is trying to do the same with books.

They’ve recently launched Book Marks to do the same. I think it’s an okay idea, but I’m not sure it’s necessary at this point. Or even wanted. I know these aren’t “professionals”, but do we really need more than Amazon and Goodreads? I personally don’t read reviews whether they’re written by a reader or a critic, but I’m just not sure about this.

The site will assign books a letter grade based on the reviews for the title, which sounds exactly like the Tomatometer.

Also, as of right now the book blogging community isn’t among those eligible to submit a review to the site. Hopefully that changes as time goes by.

Do you think a book review aggregate site is something we need?

A Reversal

Have you ever believed in one thing for so long and then suddenly had a change of heart? I think this is what politicians might call “evolving”. Well I’ve recently realized that I’ve also done it.

For the longest time I refused to write book reviews. I still don’t. I don’t write them. But I do review the books I read. And in 2016 I plan on reviewing just about every book I read for my challenge and the Amazon list. So I may not actually write reviews, but I do review what I read.

Which of course started back in 2014 when I’d discuss the books I read from Amazon’s list. Then I started my channel in June and expanded the practice. And now I have my reading challenge. I could end up reviewing ten books this year or 75. I don’t see anything wrong with changing my stance on reviews. I think every blogger should be open to a change in content over time. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen?

Have you changed your stance on anything during the course of your blogging?

A Woman Reviewed Over 30000 Books on Amazon

Yikes. Looks like this woman is already well known, but I’d never heard of her until her recent death. So if you’ve been following her reviews, well, there won’t be any more forthcoming.

But I want to talk about the actual number of books she reviewed and how she reviewed them. It looks like her total number of book reviews is just above 31000. I mean, whoa. And guess how many books she gave three stars or less? None. Every book she reviewed on the site is rated as four stars or higher. That’s ridiculous.

I could read 20 books in a given amount of time and I imagine several would be rated as less than four stars. I think this woman should be part of the conversation people like to have about reviews on Amazon. 31000 books is way more than I’ll read in my lifetime, and perhaps she did read them all, but I think a single person reviewing that many books on the site and only leaving four or five stars for each is somewhat outrageous.

Y’all know I don’t read book reviews. But y’all also know that plenty of people do. I don’t know how many times her reviews have been read by others, but there’s a pretty good chance that her reviews influenced potential buyers in many instances. And that’s unfortunate. Her reviews may not have been dishonest per se, but you can’t sit there and say that they were completely honest either.

What do you think of someone reviewing 31000 books and rating all of them as four star reads? I think it’s a joke, and a mockery of others who actually put some thought into the reviews they post.

On Amazon Reviews

Do you live under a rock? No? Well then you probably know that Amazon recently started cracking down on its review system. And suddenly the world is going to end once again. I’m not entirely sure how they do it, but they’ve managed to link Amazon accounts to Facebook accounts. They use this link to see if all your Facebook friends are the ones leaving those five star reviews on your book.

Everyone and their mom seems to think this is the worst thing that’s ever happened on the internet. And once again I’m not with any of them. I’m going to ask you to be completely honest with yourself. Just be honest. Is it possible for your friends or family members to be objective in their Amazon review? Serious question. You’re probably thinking, “Well MY family members won’t say my book is good if they don’t really think it is.”


What they’ll likely do if you force them to write a review and they didn’t actually like it is they’ll give you all their feedback personally and then ease way off of the criticism in their review. And likely add a star or two. And if you say that your friends and family are different from this, then you might want to compare the reviews from people you don’t know to those written by people you do. Just do it. (like Nike.)

I mean, have you seen the reviews written by book bloggers? They review every book they read and somehow all the books are four or five star reads. Really? They can’t even be honest when reviewing books by others they’ll never meet, but people actually expect their friends and family to be honest when reviewing their book? Funny.

The even funnier part of this whole thing is that people think reviews sell books. Nah. They don’t. Which is why you can find books with a handful of nice reviews that don’t sell just like the book with no reviews.

What do you think of Amazon disallowing friends and family members of an author from reviewing their book? I think it’s a better way to have more accurate ratings. And I see nothing wrong with that.

On this day in 2014 I published Like a Reality Show, but for Authors.


Go Set a Watchman is Finally Here

I remember the day earlier this year when it was announced that a new book would be forthcoming from Harper Lee. I remember because I basically broke the news to my readers. I saw a tweet that morning and posted on here shortly thereafter. But I also remember there being controversy surrounding this new book immediately.

How was it ACTUALLY discovered? Could Harper Lee even sign off on its publication at her age and mental state? How does this book relate to To Kill a Mockingbird? All these questions and so many more that have not really been answered in the months since that day.

Y’all know I don’t read book reviews. I don’t like them. I’m not interested in them. And I don’t typically care what any other person thinks about particular books. But I’ve made an exception to my own rule several times in recent days. I’ve wanted to see what professional reviewers were thinking of Lee’s new book. I imagine many of you have done the same. I’ll share all of my thoughts with y’all once I read the book because I don’t want to alter your thoughts or expectations about it before you even get a chance to read it.

What are your expectations for Go Set a Watchman?

On this day in 2014 I published Take me to the Library.


Paying for Reviews

I’m interrupting my string of guest posts because I’m unsatisfied with how they’ve performed. Every post I write is written in a manner that is meant to start a discussion. Sometimes I get 100 comments and other times I get 10. I have no issue with that because it’s just the nature of blogging. But I’d rather it be me causing the fluctuation than someone else. I may or may not post the four remaining guest posts I have pending next week. If you’re one of the four post authors and you’d rather just keep the post for your own blog, then just say the word and I’ll delete it.

Everyone knows that getting people to review your book can be tough. Maybe it’s self-published. Maybe it’s traditionally published by a tiny press that no one knows about. Maybe it’s published by a major publisher but has been marketed minimally. It can be difficult for anyone. I’ve seen bestsellers with less than 100 reviews on Amazon.

So, couple that with the onset of self-publishing and you have yourself a market for paid reviews. Some people have no problem with this and others do, like me. Every blogger or organization always claims that the payment isn’t necessarily for a positive review, it’s for the service of reviewing the book. OKAY. If you keep popping out bad reviews, then you’ve eliminated your paying customers. AND they straight up lie about things. One blogger from WordPress says she accepts $5 for her reviews because she has a social media reach in the millions and heavily markets her reviews. HA! This was a comment on a blog I read on here! The worst part is that she convinced ALLLLLL the other commenters that it was well worth it for an author to pay her for her review because of her massive reach. They’d all been talking about how bad paid reviews are and then one lady starts talking about her millions of followers and they’ve all bought in.

I didn’t try to verify what she was saying, but I did click her name to find your typical blog. Erratic posts. Single digit Likes and comments. (But her reach is in the millions. Mhm.) I’d put her in a worse category than Kirkus. At least we know exactly what they’re after when it comes to reviewing books. They charge, take a deep breath, $425-$575 to review your book! I’ve known about this forever, but that’s simply a damn joke. Their express option takes 4-6 weeks.

Paying for reviews is never about the service or the social media reach or ANYTHING other than money. And what’s the easiest way to keep people coming back for them? Positive reviews. The end.

I’d like to know what you think of paying someone to review your work. Would you do it? And I’d also like to know if you think it’s any better or worse than positive review swaps.

On this day in 2014 I published Why are Protagonists Always Damaged in Some Way?.


It’s That Time Again

A few months ago I had a week of guest posts on here. And I’m ready to do it all again.

I have regular readers who I know are pretty interested in what I have to say, but I’ve posted almost every day of 2015! Which means a little change in perspective is probably in order. And I’m looking right at you.

It’s easy. I post about ANYTHING pertaining to books, writing, or publishing on here. Which leaves countless topics for you to discuss in a guest post. And don’t worry about trying to think of a topic I haven’t discussed before because my thoughts were most likely different from what you have to say.

Here are the only rules:

  • No book reviews.
  • No creative writing (poetry, short story, flash fiction, etc.)
  • No lists.

And that’s it! All you have to do is comment that you’d be interested in writing a guest post and I’ll send you an invite before the end of the day. You don’t even have to tell me a topic. I’m aiming for the first or second week of June to have the week of guest posts, which means I’m looking for five posts for each weekday. And of course, I reserve the right not to publish your post for any reason at all.

If you’re curious about what to write about, take a look at the guest posts from my first time doing this.

How to Feel Like Writing Again.

Are Writers Stalkers?.

I’m Going to Slit my Wrists if you Don’t Publish me….

The Wonderful World of YA.

The Buddy System.

Interested? Then leave a comment!