Recently there has been much talk in the land of blogs and Twitter about the “YA Mafia” and whether aspiring authors should post negative reviews and lots of talk about being nice. I believe much of it started with Becca Fitzpatrick’s article, or at least this is when I started to take notice. Since then, other bloggers have spoke up. Dear Author, Babbling About Books and More, The Book Pushers. Read the links for a full understanding but the gist of it is that some authors have noted that maybe aspiring authors should not post negative reviews of books because in the future they may not get the support of that author they “bashed” in their review. That maybe these reviewers should “be nice.” (Which makes me cringe and sounds totally condescending)
After reading Jane’s post at Dear Author, I love that she stresses reviews should be honest and consistent. Because without those two things, there is no basis to start a conversation about the book nor for the reader to decided if he/she wants to read the book. I have no aspiration to become an author. My passion lies within reading, and telling you what I have read, and talking with other readers. The topic of an aspiring or even an established author reviewing books is not a black and white issue. But from where I sit, a reader at heart – when I read a review, I want honesty. I don’t care if you want to be an author, or if you work in an office, or in a grocery store, or if you are a stay at home mom. I want honesty. Which seems so simple, yet sometimes so hard to come by. This is what I liked about the book, this is what I didn’t like about the book. Simple. But why is it when I see negative reviews, I see so many – “thank you for your honesty” comments. Why don’t people say that for a positive review? Is it because they think a positive review isn’t always honest? Do they think the blogger is taking a risk by posting a negative review?
Reviewers build relationships with their readers and this is where consistency comes into play. What is great about blogs is that everyone is different – but hopefully as you become familiar with blogs, you start to learn the blogger’s tastes, and if it is similar to yours, trust develops. You can buy books off of this blogger’s recommendation. You are not always going to agree, but you know there is a consistent, solid foundation around this blog/reviewer.
In my opinion, reviews should always be written for the reader. If a reviewer writes a review to be nice to an author, is that helpful to your readers? Or if it is only positive because maybe the reviewer is friendly with the author on Twitter or they are going to see them at a convention - how in the world is a review like this going to help anyone decide if they should read this book? Isn’t that the main point of the review? And if you have read the book, and you want to talk about it, are you really engaging in honest conversation? No. And I’m not saying that I sit here reveling in negative reviews. Is it fun to email an author the link to a review of their book when you have a lot of negative comments? No. But again, reviews are for the readers. Period. So if you love a book – tell me why. If you hate a book, tell me why. Most importantly, keep reading and keep blogging. And keep your opinions coming!