Writing Reviews As An Author

S. J. Pajonas February 15, 2014
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ETA (04/23/2016): Since I’m going back and editing old blog posts, I should jump in here and say that I’m no longer reviewing any books but instead reading books I want to read and recommending the ones I really love in my Book Chat feature. Drop on by and check out those posts!

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I’ve been on Goodreads since 2009. I distinctly remember joining when all of my friends joined and logging my first couple of reviews there. Before I joined, I had a blog about life, movies, knitting, and reading, and I sometimes posted my thoughts there. I didn’t have much of a readership (and that blog is long gone), and I didn’t post real reviews either — mostly just thoughts on books, knitting patterns, and movies I both loved and hated. I’ll never forget the time I slammed a knitting designer for an awful pattern that was fraught with errors. Man, was she pissed. And then a few months later, after other complaints from other knitters, that designer changed the pattern and changed the way she did business. Can’t say I was surprised! Anyway, I’m getting off-topic. If you look back at my Goodreads reviews, you’ll find they’re largely positive, even before I started writing and publishing my own books. There are a few reviews where I have specifically called out bad editing or poor copy editing, and I’ll stand by those assessments today. I have the integrity to stand by opinions I’ve already muttered and murmured to the whole world.

This past week, I saw something that I had never seen before. I saw authors YELLING in ALL CAPS at each other that reviewing as an author is A BAD IDEA. YOU SHOULD NEVER DO IT. EVER. I was shocked, honestly. I’ve reviewed many books from fellow authors, propped them up, and recommended their books around. Many have done the same for me. I’m a positive person, and while I’ve written “bad” reviews in the past, I certainly haven’t done it recently (except for one book. ONE BOOK. Ugh.) But wow, I saw those other authors yelling and screaming, and I was taken aback. I defended myself for writing reviews, and I’m sure it looked bad. I’m sure it pissed a few people off. But I watched them yell, and it made me think hard about my policies on this topic.

So here’s the deal, I’m still going to be cataloging the books I read in Goodreads. You’ll know what I’m reading when I decide to update. If I don’t like a book, you will never know. I don’t even update my status on Goodreads until I’m into a book and loving it, and that has been my policy for almost a year. When I’m done with a book, I’ll mark it as read and write a sentence or two. If I LOVE LOVE LOVE a book that I feel it must be shouted, I will give it 5-stars and a few paragraphs. Because god, there are some books I just love with all of my soul. They must be shared.

There will be a few instances when I will put those LOVE LOVE LOVE reviews up on my blog especially for an author’s blog tour. I did this with Starla Huchton’s NEMESIS last year (have you read The Endure Series? Because you should!) and I will do this for BUTTERMAN (TIME) TRAVEL, INC. next week. This goes along with shouting some books from the rooftops because I love them that much. But I am not a book blogger, just an author and reader, who loves some books enough to recommend them to others.

One more thing… In all my notes on books, I will remark on copy editing if it’s particularly bad. Sorry. This is the one place I draw the line. The English language has grammar rules, and it is a copy editor’s profession to know those rules and employ them properly. If you’re a copy editor for a traditional publisher and this is a job you are paid to do, all the more reason to do it well. If you’re a self-publisher and you’re not doing this well, I hope you see my notes and try harder next time. I will not remark on your themes, your characters, the way the world was built, or your employment of similes, but if you didn’t put commas before coordinating conjunctions that married together two independent clauses for your entire book, I’m gonna say something. If you spelled your own main character’s name wrong in the first chapter three times (yes, I did see this in a book last year), I’m gonna say something. Don’t ruin a perfectly good story by getting these things wrong. I want your book to be a good book as much as you do. Trust me. There is nothing worse, as a reader, than suffering through a badly copy edited book. And for all the authors that say, “But I didn’t edit the book, why are you telling me this?” It’s YOUR NAME on YOUR BOOK. YOU OWN IT. All the more reason to watch the way it’s edited and say something if it’s wrong. Learn the grammar rules yourself, and you’ll never be caught off-guard! Okay. That’s my new policy.



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Category: Personal
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  • I’m the same way. People will never know the books I dislike, throw, or fail to finish. The ones I do enjoy will get a little well-earned praise. End of story.

    I have had other authors leave me spiteful reviews, though—more their problem than mine. They don’t get the satisfaction of my ALL CAPS YELLING. 😉

    • I have had the same and I just let it roll off of me after I swear at the screen and put a few pins in the voodoo doll I keep on my desk 😉

      I feel good about this policy going forward. You’ll all know when I enjoy a book but that’s it.

      • Yeah, I might mutter a few choice words about their professionalism.

        Words that would make a sailor blush…

        Then I’m good! LOL

  • C.E. Kilgore

    I’ve had to do the same thing. On Goodreads in my personal author account, I will only review books from authors who have specifically requested it (like you lol) I’ve even been removing my reviews of other books and moving them to a new review site and account I’ve created with a few other authors who have felt the growing ire/backlash against reviewers. Even 3 and 4 star reviews these days are getting backlash… it’s gotten out of hand and ridiculous, but the idea that it could maliciously affect my own books is not far-fetched. I’ve seen it happen to other authors; authors who left well written, critical and balanced reviews … suddenly get an onslaught of hate-posts, comments and bad reviews on their own books. People forget that we were readers well before we were writers.

    • Corinne, it is getting out of hand indeed and I wish everyone could just take a deep breath and act a bit more civil, especially since reviews are not the end-all be-all of what sells a book or not. Regardless, I am taking this step to distance myself a bit from the madness. I am very happy, though, that you did review my books! 🙂 I am grateful for those authors that are willing to help out and I will continue to recommend the books I love.