Rules of Book Reviewdom

I’ve read several articles on blog book reviewing and opinions vary. A lot of folks notice how blogs usually rave about books, so honesty becomes suspect. Yesterday I read an article on blog ethics and that reminded me, I’ve never stated my Book Review Policy, so I thought I’d lay out Vic’s Rules of Book Reviewdom:

1. Never be snarky. I know there are reviewers who do this, but I’m not one of them. I know how much insensitive comments hurt and I try not to make them – at least not in print!

2. Always be honest. If there is an aspect of the book I believe could have been stronger, I will say so. See rule #1 on how I do that.

3. If I did not enjoy the book, I will not review it on this blog. Life is short. I have been asked to do reviews of self-published books and many times, they’re works that weren’t ready for print. Since I have (thus far) been asked to do them through a different blog that I do not run, I work within all of my rules but this one. I write the best review I can and try to dwell on the positives more than on the negatives. But on this blog, you’re only going to see reviews of books I enjoyed. The level of my enjoyment can fluctuate, of course. LOL

4. If I personally know the author or (the Lord could be so kind) am paid by the author for the review, I will let you know. Ethically, I think that’s fair. Again, see rules #2 and #3 to know how I review books. You don’t get a free ride just because you paid me gazillions (of pennies) or because you know me.

Have I left out anything? Any questions? Buehller?




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12 Responses to “Rules of Book Reviewdom”

  1. A misinterpreted wave says:

    Good rules, fair and without trickery. I like them.

  2. Giles Hash says:

    Those sound like excellent rules!

    For me, if I'm reading a book that makes me mad (like if the author shouldn't have been published by a major publisher) I don't mention the book by title. I rant and rave about "this book I'm reading" and point out specific problems in a way that's supposed to make aspiring authors aware mistakes that they should avoid.

    As for books I review, I may say some negative things about a book, but I will do so in the most positive way possible… and only briefly so that I can tell my readers why the SHOULD read the book I'm reviewing.

  3. Rachna Chhabria says:

    Hi Victoria…great rules. I agree with all of them. I too prefer to review books I have enjoyed. And I hate criticizing in print, I would rather gently point out the strengths and weaknesses.

  4. Danyelle says:

    I like your rules! Every once in a while I post a review, and I follow similar rules–especially only blogging about books I loved. 🙂

    I wanted to thank you for stopping by and for your kind comment. Thanks! 😀

  5. Victoria Dixon says:

    No problem, Danyelle and thanks for the reciprocation!

    Rachna, that's an excellent point. Whether it's called critiquing, commenting or criticizing, it all amounts to the reader's point of view. Since I have never published my own novel,the writer could easily retort with a "Well, what do you know?" It's so important to use our skill as writers when doing reviews and most especially so when the review has to be less than enthusiastic. (God, I hate those times!)

  6. Medeia Sharif says:

    Great rules.

    I'm picky about what I read, so my reviews tend to be positive. Also, I give a book 10-20 pages to get good, and if it doesn't I put it down and never mention it on my blog or Goodreads.

  7. Victoria Dixon says:

    I NEED to do more of that, Medeia. I'm okay doing it for my blog, but I feel guilty for doing it for other folks who count on me. 🙁

    Anyone familiar with Ado Annie's "I CAN'T say 'No'" solo from "Oklahoma!"? LOL

  8. Janet Johnson says:

    I like your rules. I think honesty is important, and I fully agree about reviewing what you enjoy. Why waste your time, otherwise.

    I haven't ventured into the book review sector yet. I'm either too nice or too mean. Better just not to go there. 🙂

  9. Victoria Dixon says:

    Hey, Janet! Thanks for popping in. I can see you being critical (in an appropriate fashion), but I cannot see you being mean. Personally, I think you'd be a fair reviewer, but it really sucks if you've agreed to review a book and it ends up as not enjoyable. LOL I guess I felt I needed to do this because I'm getting into more and more reviews and I've seen some readers (on other blogs) comment that they only see positive reviews on blogs. I think there's a valid reason for that, if they'd stop and think about it! ;D

  10. Vicky says:

    I think there's something we all have to remember when we post any kind of critique on the internet. I've heard this advice dozens of times from dozens of speakers. THE PUBLISHING WORLD IS A SMALL PLACE. DO NOT POST ANYTHING YOU WANT TO COME BACK TO BITE YOU AT THE WRONG TIME AND THE WRONG PLACE.

    On speaker put it very well when she said, "When you criticize a book, you're also criticizing the agent and the editior who chose it and put their time and energy into it, too. They'll remember your name when you go to pitch them."

    So I think your policy of not reviewing books you don't like makes a lot of sense, not only from the point of view of not wasting time (who has any of that) but also from a purely "political" point of view.

    Also, I think we have to look in our hearts when we publish a negative critique. Are we doing it to help or just to show off our own skill? If we want to help, wouldn't sending a private letter to the author be a kinder way than smearing it all over the internet?

  11. Suzan Harden says:

    Dang, girl. Do you know how much tea hurts coming out your nose? But then, life move pretty fast.

    I'm with you and Ferris. I'm not about to recommend a book I don't like, and I'm not going to trash a book because I didn't. There's lots of stuff that isn't my cuppa that others love.

  12. Victoria Dixon says:

    Well said, Vicky and Suzan. I like the idea of contacting the author. Not to harangue them, but to discuss why they made the choices they did. Perhaps they had a valid rationale for the plot twist or character action. Perhaps the rationale lacked the forcefulness we needed to see it, but as Suzan said, others might have read that rationale and enjoyed the book more than we did. In that case, by contacting the author we learn from them and maybe they'll learn from us. Win/win. I like it. ;D

    Oh, and so sorry about the tea, Suzan! My boss had a CHEERIO come out that way once. Ouch. I've never had the pleasure, I'm happy to say, but that's mostly because I'm normally too congested. LOL

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