Author Reviews: Yay or Nay?

Upset woman with books


I spent my weekend catching up with writing reviews for books I’ve read – some of them I’d read a while ago but hadn’t really had the time to review.

Along the way, this process brought to my mind a conversation I had with a writer friend a couple of weeks ago. She stated that, being a writer, she was biased to leave reviews for other writers. I respect her opinion, but I believe in leading by example. How can I encourage friends and readers to leave reviews when I’m not doing the same? Also, being so green at this, leaving honest reviews of books I’ve enjoyed is a good way to build a network with fellow authors and maybe score some cross-promotion.

To reiterate: Books I’ve enjoyed. I usually don’t leave reviews lower than three stars on a five-point scale. If I read a book I didn’t enjoy, I just won’t write a review. Yes, feel free to call me a pansy. Chances are if I really hate that book, there already are negative reviews from other readers. Let them be the ones to shred the author’s dreams and hopes. Not me, folks – I’m still getting caught up with bad karma from stuff I did back in high school.

Usually, I only put a book on Goodreads after I’m already 20 percent into it and enjoying it. If the first couple of chapters didn’t get my attention, I don’t even tag it just yet. If I read the entire book or as much as I could handle and it didn’t do it for me, I won’t rate or leave a review.

That’s my way. But those super honest readers (authors or not) who leave good and bad reviews really earn my respect as long as they tell us what was wrong/great about the story. Maybe if I didn’t feel so invested in writing, it’d be easy for me to rate a book two stars (or lower). Honestly, I can take a two-star review on my work better than I’d feel judging someone else’s. And no, I’m not that selfless; I’m just worried about karma. One day, I’ll tell you some stories and it’ll all make sense, I promise.

Another reason possible reason why I don’t leave two- or one-star reviews (not to say I don’t explain what didn’t work for me in a story once in a while) is because it’s so hard for me to write reviews in general. Even when I love a book, I feel my review won’t do it justice. I suck at it, loud and clear, but I go the extra mile to do it because I enjoyed it so much. But if I really didn’t like it…meh. I’m also too lazy to think about constructive ways to tell someone her work sucks.

There’s obviously not just one way to do things. I write a review based on how that read made me feel. Especially in the romance genre, that’s very important. Of course, that simple, subjective way of classifying depends on many things – whether the conflict was strong enough to get me through to the end, whether the characters were engaging and had a good arc, whether the end was satisfying and believable.

What about you? What’s your take on authors leaving reviews?

6 comments on “Author Reviews: Yay or Nay?

  1. It’s an interesting question actually. This is a personal view only but for me, as an author, I feel uncomfortable about reviewing other authors. I have a number of difficulties that revolve around honesty as a reader and yet also wanting to support other authors as an author myself. There’s also the question of having the time to both read and leave a review, and in such a way as not to offend the people I DON’T read or review. It’s too hard for me so I’ve decided that not leaving reviews or expressing opinions publically is the one I’m most comfortable with. That way I can support people without the whole ‘but you didn’t like my book’ thing coming into it.

    • admin on said:

      Jackie, thanks for leaving a comment. I agree, you have to do what feels right for you.

      I really admire professional reviewers, being able to read/review so quickly.


  2. Sandii on said:

    Hi Carmen,
    Thought provoking post. I think I’m with you in giving reviews. If I don’t like a book I generally won’t review it. If I’m totally offended by a book then I’ll leave a review based on me as a reader not a writer. I was a reader before a writer and love to read. Reviewing is quite tricky as I won’t slate a fellow writer.

    You’ve made me think. Always good. Really great post.


    • Hey Sandii! *waves*

      Yeah it’s tricky! What you said is quite interesting. I feel nowadays my perspective changed a bit since I got published from when I would leave reviews just as a reader. I don’t know if it changed for better or worse, lol, but it’s just different I guess.

      :-) Thanks for your comment!

  3. Occasionally I’ve read a book I didn’t really like but I do think it’s better to be honest. Sometimes a mistake in editing – structural editing – can seriously damage a book’s credibility. Sad but true. But I try to leave constructive criticism if I have to criticize.

    • Maria, valid point. Also, I guess if enough people complain about a certain thing, the author might take that in consideration while drafting the next book, right? The learning curve and all that :-)

      Thanks for your comment!