Feb 7, 2011
My policy on reviews, 2011
Reviews of Huntress have started to trickle in, and since it’s been a while since I last posted my thoughts on reviews, I thought it was time for an update. This is directed primarily to book bloggers and regular readers.
I very much appreciate bloggers and readers taking the time to post their thoughts about my books on their blogs, Amazon, Goodreads, or anywhere else the internet might allow you to post reviews. I love the fact that people are reading my books and feel strongly enough about them to say something in public. Thank you for participating in the conversation about books, and thank you for talking about mine.
As an author, though, I don’t self-Google or purposefully seek out reviews of my work. There are several reasons for this.
- In order to write creatively, I have to listen to my own voice. Hearing the voices of lots of other people discussing my work in reviews tends to drown out my own voice. So, I try to minimize those other voices.
- Even though it’s very gratifying and flattering to read positive reviews, it’s a guarantee that some folks won’t like what I’ve written. This is fine and unavoidable, but criticism tends to stick in my head a lot longer than praise. (I think this is pretty normal!) That criticism can be damaging to maintaining the mental creative space I need to write.
- By the time my books are available to be read and reviewed, I’ve long since finished working on them. Reading other people’s opinions on what worked or didn’t work is just frustrating because there’s nothing more I can change about the book.
- I firmly believe that reviews are for readers, not authors. I’m not the audience for the reviews, so I don’t think it’s necessary for me to read them.
Therefore, if you’ve written a review of one of my books, I’m unlikely to see it. I’ve seen some bloggers state online that they like it when authors drop by to thank them for a review, but I’ll tell you honestly: Since I don’t self-Google or seek out my reviews, I’m unlikely to see your review. That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate it, as I said above; it just means I haven’t seen it.
If you want me to see your review, of course you’re welcome to send it to me. You can tweet me, leave me a comment on Facebook, or email me (mlo at malindalo dot com). Just please remember the golden rule: Before you send me your review, consider whether or not you’d want to read it if you were the author.
Like everything in life, of course, there are exceptions. I do read trade reviews of my books, which are usually sent to me by my editor. If I’m lucky enough to get mainstream media coverage, I’ll read that. This is partly because I think I do need to know what the gatekeepers are saying about my work, but also because these sources are much more widely distributed than most book blogs (again: there are exceptions!), and I want to make sure there are no factual errors in the coverage.
Last but not least, because I’m an author, I very rarely review other authors’ books, unless the author is (1) dead; or (2) extremely famous. I just don’t think it’s appropriate for me to critically review my colleagues right now. This might change in the future (the internet keeps forcing us to change our standards about this kind of thing), but right now I’m refraining from criticism of my peers — and yes, I think that proper reviewing involves criticism. Not in a mean way, but in a thoughtful and engaged way.
I do, however, recommend books I’ve truly enjoyed, and I’ll definitely keep doing this in the future.
Questions? Feel free to email me (mlo at malindalo dot com).