This is kind of an awkward subject, but if there is one thing I’m good at it’s charging in where angels fear to tread with both feet in my mouth and my pants on backwards, so let’s just get this over with.
If you look at my reviews on Amazon or Goodreads you will notice that I tend to review mostly indie fiction. Well, there’s a reason for this–I don’t usually spend time reviewing traditionally published books because they have marketing departments and contacts with big newspapers and get plenty of publicity that way. There are a number of traditionally published books that I love, but my time for writing reviews is limited and I want to concentrate on those authors who need the exposure.
Next, you’ll notice that I tend to leave mostly four and five star reviews. Well, there is a reason for that, too–I don’t waste time with books I don’t like. I’m a browser, I pick up a book, read a few pages, and if it doesn’t grab me right away, I don’t finish it. Quite frankly, there is too much good stuff out there to spend time reading books that don’t appeal to me.
So if I finish a book and am motivated to write a review of it, it’s going to be a book I really like. Hence my track record.
The reason that I am taking time to explain this is that I have a number of indie writers on my blog feed (and am always adding more) and I don’t want anyone thinking, “Gee, he gave me a five star review–is he expecting me to return the favor?”
I’m not. Because it’s not a favor. If I said your book is great, then I meant it. Artistic integrity is very important to me. If I didn’t like your book, I’ll just keep quiet about it. There are people who are paid to write reviews of books they don’t like–I’m doing this just for kicks.
Do I enjoy getting reviews of my work? Hell, yes, who doesn’t? And I have been very fortunate in that most of the people who have taken the time to review Catskinner’s Book have been people who enjoyed it and reviewed it favorably.
But, you know, if I thought that anyone out there felt obligated to give me a glowing review just because I reviewed her or his book, that would kind of cheapen the whole thing. I would be wonder, did so-and-so really like it?
Now, I’m probably addressing a problem that doesn’t even exist. It’s just that I have written a couple of good reviews for books written by people I know from this or other sites, and I am just paranoid enough to wonder if anyone out there thinks that I’m doing it just in the hopes that I’ll gain some unearned five stars in return.
Nope, I’m not. I am very happy with my Amazon ranking, but I am happy with it because I believe that it is honest. More than that, the Amazon reader review system has been under a lot of fire lately for false reviews, both positive and negative. Amazon has been responding to this, and while there are disagreements about how they are responding, the one thing I think we can all agree on is that without some self-policing on the part of reviewers the whole system becomes meaningless.
Okay, enough soapbox for today.