Book Reviews a Bad Idea?

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Bohemienne
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Book Reviews a Bad Idea?

Post by Bohemienne » April 6th, 2010, 10:33 am

So I've been mulling over ideas for my own writing blog, and as we all know, blogs are just one of the many tools in your publicity kit to get published and be successful once you are published. But is it considered unprofessional to ever say anything negative about another author in such a public setting as a blog? Do published authors tend to stick to the axiom of only saying something nice, or saying nothing at all? I tend to be very direct in my book reviews and if there's something about a book that I dislike I don't hesitate to point it out. But can this approach backfire when you're trying to build a name for yourself? And then there's the potential accusations that I'm just being petty--"Oh, you're just bitter that X author is published and you're not."

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Mira
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Re: Book Reviews a Bad Idea?

Post by Mira » April 6th, 2010, 12:06 pm

The publishing culture, as I understand it, is that you don't ever say anything negative about equals or superiors in public, but you can feel free to criticise people lower on the scale than you are. It mimics business culture in that.

Whether you choose to comply with that or not is an individual choice, but I believe that's the culture.

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Re: Book Reviews a Bad Idea?

Post by JenLT » April 6th, 2010, 5:19 pm

I would definitely be careful. You never know who you are going to need to work with in the future. I'm not suggesting anyone lie...but I would think twice before giving a negative public review of a published book. I think setting out to review books is different than giving your opinion about a book in a thread or conversation. Think about all the people involved in publishing a book and the emotional connection they feel to the book. I'm sure they're all very professional, but they are human. If you blast a book they worked hard on and they love, you never know how they would feel. Of course, if you do decide to review books and mention parts of the book that you dislike, simply be careful how you phrase it. It is possible to say that you didn't like something without being insulting. (I'm sure you wouldn't be anyway!)

Also, I totally disagree with saying negative things about people you believe to be inferior in the publishing industry (or in the world for that matter). Just consider that someone's assistant today could be your editor tomorrow or an unpublished author could be a bestseller later. People tend to move around a lot in this industry too. I've never read or heard anyone saying it was okay to pick on anyone not your equal or superior, but I have heard/read many agents/editors saying to be cautious about what you say in public. Though, I can not say whether that is part of the publishing culture or not.

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Mira
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Re: Book Reviews a Bad Idea?

Post by Mira » April 6th, 2010, 5:26 pm

Oh, Jen, I'm not saying you should say negative things about people lower on the scale. Goodness, no. I'm glad you said that, so I'm not misunderstood.

What I meant is that you can do so without censure. That's why you see industry professionals critiquing, and even mocking, writers without it affecting their career negatively.

That's the business culture.

However, I'm not recommending it! Just speaking to the culture.

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Re: Book Reviews a Bad Idea?

Post by JenLT » April 6th, 2010, 6:35 pm

Mira wrote:Oh, Jen, I'm not saying you should say negative things about people lower on the scale. Goodness, no. I'm glad you said that, so I'm not misunderstood.

What I meant is that you can do so without censure. That's why you see industry professionals critiquing, and even mocking, writers without it affecting their career negatively.

That's the business culture.

However, I'm not recommending it! Just speaking to the culture.
Oh, I didn't think that you were advocating it...simply mentioning it as seeming to be more acceptable to those in the business. :) Sorry for the misunderstanding.

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maybegenius
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Re: Book Reviews a Bad Idea?

Post by maybegenius » April 6th, 2010, 8:18 pm

I absolutely believe aspiring writers should be mindful of the criticism they put out into the big, bad world. We can easily shoot ourselves in the foot if we're not careful. Additionally, rudeness and vitriol spewed at other writers/authors can make one appear bitter and tacky. That doesn't mean we have to be all rah-rah cheerleader and lavish fake praise. We're allowed to hate what we hate. We just have to be careful how and where we discuss said hate. With a group of close writer friends over coffee? Sure, vent your spleen about Crap E. Authorsucks and how you can't believe anyone published their drivel. In the public sphere? Probably want to go with the classier option of "no comment."

I occasionally review books on my blog, but I tend to stick to books I enjoyed. I'll mention some criticism, such as "some of the language was a little off" or "the plot was a bit slow for my liking." I try to keep it constructive and avoid snark. I think you can manage an honest book review without slamming the writing or author. If you really loathed the book, it's probably best not to review it. You honestly never know who might be reading. I recently had an industry professional send me a personal email to tell me they enjoyed one of my posts, and it was kind of a "woah" moment for me. People in this industry DO read our blogs. If they're full of piss and vinegar, it's not going to look so great for us.
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Bohemienne
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Re: Book Reviews a Bad Idea?

Post by Bohemienne » April 6th, 2010, 10:26 pm

maybegenius wrote: I occasionally review books on my blog, but I tend to stick to books I enjoyed. I'll mention some criticism, such as "some of the language was a little off" or "the plot was a bit slow for my liking." I try to keep it constructive and avoid snark. .
I certainly wouldn't go for snark anyway, but this is a really good idea--only review the ones that I really liked!

Thank you everyone for the helpful feedback.

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marilyn peake
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Re: Book Reviews a Bad Idea?

Post by marilyn peake » April 7th, 2010, 8:50 pm

A while back, I wrote reviews, but decided to publish only reviews for books I liked. Since I'm a writer and not a professional reviewer, I didn't want to publish negative reviews of books, especially for books by new authors.
Marilyn Peake

Novels: THE FISHERMAN’S SON TRILOGY and GODS IN THE MACHINE. Numerous short stories. Contributor to BOOK: THE SEQUEL. Editor of several additional books. Awards include Silver Award, 2007 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards.

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