I sometimes get review requests through my blog and my most recent one provided a predicament for me. I’d read The Manifestation of Light (Review here) and after writing the review, I wrote to the author telling him about my decision and the rating I’d give the book. If you’ve read the review, you’ll know that it’s not a very favorable review and I informed the author that I’d rate the book at 2 Stars when I upload my review onto Goodreads and Amazon.
The book has a lot of problems and I felt that rating was justified, but that’s of course not something an author wants to hear. This sounds like the prelude to some horrible email conversation right there, but no, the author handled it professional. What I’m getting at is that he asked me to no post my review. I can fully understand that request, as such a review can hamper the sales of a book, especially a self-published one. And one thing I definitely don’t want to do is be a stone in the road of a new (or any kind of) author.
I’ve the highest respect for any writer and even more for authors that manage to finish a book and get it into a form they can proudly upload to amazon or sell in the traditional way. For my favorite authors, you could definitely call me a fanboy that shakes with excitement for every new book from them. Something I don’t want to be is a hindrance to anyone that wants to write and maybe even make a living with it. That goes against my nature.
Still, I believe in the truthfully reviewing of books and make that known to everyone requesting me to review anything. I’ll even put my fanboy-hat to the side and read every book without regards to who wrote it. I’ll weigh a book on its own merits and write a review about every good and bad part I found (because of a review’s length not always every detail). I’ll try to find good in every book, but some are just not ready to be sold yet.
While the decision wasn’t easy for me, I decided to publish the review nonetheless. Why, because I wanted to kick the author in the nuts? No, definitely not. I published it because I’m writing my reviews for you readers. I want you to find good books you didn’t know about or weren’t sure of if you should buy them. And I want you to know which books aren’t ready to be read yet. I try to find the best possible books, tell you what makes them so good, and recommend them based on this or that reason. Obviously, not every book can be a great or even good book and I think making readers aware that a book is lacking in this or that regard is only fair.
I’ve always made it obvious that I’d be truthful in my reviews and I’m a bit sorry that might come back to bite an author in the behind, but I’ve never and will never promise to just write good reviews. This might maybe come back to bite me in the ass sometime, as authors and publishers might think it too much a risk giving me their book before release with the danger of having a not-stellar review up early on. Well, I don’t get many review copies anyway, so nothing’s truly lost.
The decision might still leave me with a bit of a bad taste in my mouth, but I believe it was the right one. My blog is geared towards other fantasy lovers and readers and as such you’re the ones I’m catering to, not any author or publisher. I might not get much feedback here, but I get the occasional “like” through Amazon or Goodreads and that’s already a win in my book. If I helped someone shop for a book they might come to love I’ll be happy. If I helped someone avoid a book they might not have liked, that’s good too.