I was at a presentation recently on ways authors can use social media and the dreaded issue of 'reviews' came up - with the presenter advising many would-be authors that a great way to engage future readers is to use social media to review other people's books that occupy the same 'space' as your own.
Fair enough...perfectly reasonable...why not...except I always feel a panic attack coming on when it comes to the whole issue of reviews. Perhaps it's my English heritage but I'm very, very wary of offering any kind of on-line commentary on books that have been published that are of a similar genre to mine (and even those that are not) because:
- What if I hate the book but I've met the author and he/she seem very nice...
- What if I think the book was so-so but it's a major bestseller and so my opinion might look like nothing more than sour grapes...
- What if I love the book but my review seems like little more than vanity or pandering...
- What if an on-line opinion starts a flame-war?
Now in person I am more than happy to air my opinion on almost any topic:) My concern is always that once out there on the internet (via social media, blog posts or other review forums) it's out there forever and it has an unlimited potential to come back and bite me.
Of course, good reviews are rarely the problem, but I think your credibility gets called into question if the only reviews you ever write are of the gushing, over the top 'I love it!!!!!' variety. If I'm going to present my opinion on-line I want it to be authentic, informative and interesting...which isn't going to happen if I only report on the books I totally loved.
So I'm wondering what other writers do when they approach the issue of reviews in the online world. Do you:
- Only review books you love?
- Be honest, and just put your opinion out there? or
- Avoiding reviews all together?
I'm not sure how many TKZers post reviews on sites like Goodreads or Amazon (again I'm pretty reluctant to do either) or whether you express your opinions on social media like Google+, Facebook etc. On the one hand I think writing reviews can establish an authors credibility in terms of knowing their genre and being enthusiastic and involved in the writing world. On the other hand I think reviewing other people's work can open up a whole can of worms (especially if it's not a glowing endorsement) and so I still hesitate...
So what do you do when it comes to reviews?