As a book review blogger, there are various ways I receive books for review:
- Publishers send me books
- Authors ask for a review request and if I accept, they will send me their book
- I buy my books at a bookstore or on-line through book purchasing websites and Epublishers
- I borrow from the library or from friends.
Keep in mind when an author contacts a book review blog to review their book, it’s all in their hands. They should know the reviewer’s reviewing style and technique. Most importantly they should be aware that some reviewers will either, always give a positive spin/review on a book or will be honest and may not like the book in question. That means the reviewer has the right to post a no hold barred review regardless if you, the author, gave them the book or not. This is something you need to take into consideration when asking book review bloggers to review your book.
Now when a publisher sends out books to a reviewer or a reviewer buys/borrows a book, it’s out of the author’s hands. That means a reviewer can pick and choose what books they want to talk about and review. And if someone has purchased a book, you better believe they have a right to comment anyway they like on a book because they are paying for the final product. If this product doesn’t sit well with them, they can express their unhappiness with it. These same rules can apply when dealing with a publisher, even though some may feel they have to be careful what they say in review so the publisher doesn’t stop sending them books.
In my case, I’ve posted both very positive reviews, as well as very negative reviews. The majority of books I receive are from various publishers and even when I review a book and post a pretty scathing review, a publisher has never told me that I won’t be getting anymore books from them.
But it hasn’t happened of yet where I’ve had an author request that I no longer review their books based on my reviewing style or the amount of times I may mention how much I don’t care for their book. But apparently this is the case in regards to some blog review sites. Jessewave, who runs a pretty popular and professional book review blog that specifically reviews MM literature, posted about a number of authors coming to her and stating they no longer want her site to review their books:
“A number of authors (you know who you are) have in the past requested that this site no longer review their books. Recently a few more have joined the band. So far I have been acceding to these requests, even though in some cases up to three different reviewers have independently come to similar conclusions about your writing i.e. that it’s not that great. However, in future I will no longer go along with these requests because, regardless of all the other fun posts, this is a review site and the readers who drop by are entitled to our opinions on all M/M books we read (positive and negative) to help them in their purchase decisions. Of course you want to make money from your hard work, but readers deserve to spend their hard earned money on books they can enjoy.”
Now I can assume these authors who have talked to Jessewave mean if their publisher sends her their book, either her site should post a positive review of the book or don’t post a review at all, especially if it is negative one. I guess it’s the belief that if a negative review is posted it will mean lack of sales for the author.
I find it a bit strange if an author personally sends their book in for review to a blog or site, they believe they will be given a positive review. Well, they are going to be in for quite the shock, because as Jessewave says:
” Please do not send your books to be reviewed here if you you’re just looking for a promotional blurb to post on your website because you won’t get it, unless we think your book is deserving. If that’s what you’re looking for there are other “review sites” that perform this service - they are not hard to find since they only write positive “reviews” and profess that the book is “the best ever”, or they just regurgitate and expand the blurbs with no critical assessment of what’s between the covers. Also, please do not write your publishers if you’re offended by a less than positive review. Contrary to what you might think, even though publishers supply many of the books we review, often we buy the books we read. You do not have to read our reviews of your books if they upset you, but you might learn something if you read them with an open mind rather than being angry that we would dare to criticize your creation. No book is perfect but some are considerably less perfect than others.”
Book review blogs are for the reader and quite honestly, I rather post a positive review for a book and “pimp” it to the clouds over posting a negative review. But just as book review blogs are here to promote the best in books and authors, they are also here to do a service, to give balance and very bluntly warn readers about books that are not the best they can be ( in their own opinion).
I know this is where it gets uncomfortable because no author wants to have a bad review posted over their book they’ve worked so hard on. But what if an author read a less than positive review for their book and learns from it? See the negative review for what it’s worth, much like when we were in school and a teacher would grade our paper. We’ve all been there, where we’ve written a paper for a class and our teacher gave us a grade we dread. But, we keep in mind that the teacher wrote in remarks, important critical feedback that should help us write a better paper when the next one was due. And if you took that critical feedback from your teacher and used it when writing your next paper, I bet you received the grade you hoped for.
This is a never ending cycle discussed in regards to reviews and it seems more authors have become very public in their opinions on negative reviews. We see it on Amazon reviews and I’ve been hearing about private pleas from authors to book review bloggers asking or almost ordering for kinder and less critical or negative opinions of books.
Unfortunately, that is not the way the world works.
On a brighter note I would say the percentage of positive book reviews is much higher than the negative ones. That is something to keep in mind. And how many times can it be stressed that reviews are selective. Another person’s piece of coal is someone’s diamond.
I have much more respect for those reviewers who post their honest opinions, knowing they may have backlash from an author or the fans who can’t really see what the reviewer is trying to accomplish with their review. The same goes for having a great deal of respect for an author who can read a less than great review and learn something from it, where they thank the reviewer for taking the time to read and mention their book.
Look at it this way- as an author, wouldn’t you want your book mentioned and reviewed, either good or bad over not having it talked about at all? I think the worst thing for an author is when no one knows their book has been released, no one is talking about it or no reviews have been posted.