A reviewing dilemma

April 1, 2015


I read. A lot.

I also review. I don't get paid for this (although someone once accused me of just such a thing, merely because I enjoyed the book I left a review for - go figure). I do, however, get free books specifically for the purpose of leaving a review, but only from NetGalley.

I don't do review swaps. Not now, though I did once. I felt cornered, obliged to give a decent review of something that wasn't actually very good, because if I didn't, then the other author might give my book a bad review, regardless of what they actually thought of it. Tit for tat. I've since taken that review down. My conscience wouldn't let me keep it posted.

I don't respond to review requests, either. For one, I don't want to feel obligated, even if only a tiny bit, and for another, I might not fancy the genre, the style, the blurb, etc. So I choose which books I am going to read, and I leave a completely honest review.

I'm not influenced by what other readers think, either. I don't read other people's reviews before I read a novel, or before I leave a review. My response is mine, and it's honest.

But I have a dilemma, and so do some other authors: the fear of repercussion.

I don't write reviews under an assumed name (I know authors who do). I don't only leave four and five star reviews (I know authors who do). I am a click of a mouse away from being seen to be an author as well as a reviewer. And that it where the problem lies. Some authors have trouble accepting less than glowing reviews. I am one of them. They hurt. But I don't react, and I don't engage with the reviewer. Readers are as entitled to their opinions as I am - and some of their comments may well be valid. However, some authors do react. I was recently challenged over a three star review by an author, which prompted the 'Etiquette for Authors' blog post.

And there is always the fear that a disgruntled author will leave a so-so or negative review of one of my novels because I left a similar review for one of theirs. Again, I know an author that has had that very thing happen to them.

So the dilemma is - do I review under an assumed name? Or do I keep on using my own, and damn any consequences. And is the name Abook Reviewer anonymous enough?


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