To Review or Not To Review: That is the Question

book reviews

Let’s talk about reviews. I have been in a number of groups where the ‘taboo’ reviews were discussed. The unspoken rules of etiquette for an author is to never bad-mouth reviews. So, I’ve learned to bite my tongue, no matter how badly I want to chime in with my opinion.

Lately, there has been so much talk about reviews that if I bit my tongue any longer, I might not have one left. I spoke up and shared my thoughts. Not just once, but at every opportunity. Then, I’d talk about it with my author-relatives. I became obsessed with talking about ‘reviews’. Yep, I did the big no-no for authors.

As someone pointed out, my sales aren’t suffering because of my reviews — after all, my reviews are pretty darned good. {{knocks on wood}} But I’ve had my fair share of bad ones, too.

The raw facts about reviews… Authors need them. We need them for a number of reasons. It’s sort of like gratuity for wait-staff. They really rely on those tips to supplement their meager wages. As authors, we rely on them to gauge where we are as a writer, if we made our mark/did our job, conveyed our message. We also rely on them to help with sales and rankings, which ultimately lead to food on the table and new shoes (just had to throw that in).

Here’s something to chew on about reviews… just like with gratuity, it becomes an argument of merit versus entitlement. Most people expect to leave a tip when they patronize a restaurant, but some resent being forced to leave gratuity, especially if service was poor. Authors have come to expect reviews, to the point where we are constantly asking “Be sure to leave an honest review.”

The truth — we aren’t entitled to a review. It’s a gift (or critique) from the reader. Yes, I know I’ve said this before. But I think it merits repeating. If a reader feels compelled to leave a review s/he will. Otherwise, they read for the sheer enjoyment of it, without concern about writing a review. I’m just grateful they were intrigued enough to purchase my book, and take time out of their busy day to read it. Would I like a review? Sure. But I understand, I am not entitled to one.


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