Kirsten Lamb Sparks a Controversy—should authors review other author’s books

This debate is raging on Kirsten Lamb’s blog

First Kirsten asked the question: Should authors write bad reviews?

This created a huge debate with many authors of the opinion that leaving poor reviews would return to bite them and damage their own author’s brand. But even worse than this, leaving a bad review as in 1 or 2 stars may hurt an author’s feelings.  

In her next blog Kirsten then went on to ask the question:

Is it an honest/fair assessment of a work of fiction when WE look at it? It would be like a group of illusionists going to Criss Angel’s show and then ripping apart his show, pointing out the doubles or the hidden key or the trick blades. People just want to be awed.

The debate that this has created is still raging… so here’s my take on this whole argument 

I have been a reader far longer than I’ve ever been a writer. As proof of this, on my school report when I was in my 1st year at High School (NZ)  when I was 12, my English teacher commented…Shirley reads widely and well and this is reflected in her written work… and my appetite for good books has never waned.

 Although I’m now a writer, I have never lost my enjoyment or the sheer magic of being  drawn into the fantasy that an author creates and, as a reader, I am quite capable of writing a review that can highlight the strengths and weaknesses of any particular book. If for some reason, I can’t get into a book, or I can’t finish a book (rarely) then I won’t even attempt to leave a review. Why? If I haven’t finished a book how can I leave a fair review.   

Reviews are a double edged sword…while an author would like every reader to fall in love with their work, realistically most authors know this won’t happen. And some of the reviews my work has received reflect this.  

As an Indie author, I rely on reviews to help sell my work. A book needs to have at least 25 reviews to even be on Amazon’s radar and so many avenues to promote my work rely on getting x number of 4 or 5 star reviews before review sites will accept a book for promotion…and getting reviews…any reviews…is darn hard work.  If authors stop reviewing books…who will review them? And if we don’t get reviews, we are then excluded from so many avenues of promotion.  It’s a classic Catch 22 situation.

As one commenter succinctly said:

I think authors can/should review *IF* they can leave the brown-nosing (Every book is wonderful! Every book deserves five stars!) and cattiness at home. Giving a book a bad review because you are jealous or it feels like competition is unprofessional. But I don’t see anything wrong with an author-reader giving a fair, honest review: I liked this book, and here’s why. I *didn’t* care for the book, and here’s why. I know that I can, I know that it helps other writers, and so, I do.

I couldn’t put it better…thank you Beverly Diehl  

Amazon copped a huge amount of flack earlier in the year when they deleted reviews left by authors for fellow authors. This was in response to a situation created by a few authors behaving badly. They set up fake accounts to create sock puppet reviews of their own work, while trashing other author’s of the same genre.  Because of this, now every author who leaves a review of another author’s books comes under the same black cloud of suspicion. 

Sock puppet reviews is a practise that the big publishing houses have been doing for many years. They also indulge in manipulating bestseller lists…not for the love of the books, but for monetary gain.     

As for hurting an author’s feelings? If an author puts their work out there or Joe Blog to buy and read then they have to expect both positive and negative reviews. It comes with the territory.

There’s an old adage…”If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”    

To read more about this controversial subject visit Kirsten’s blog  

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Published on Monday, June 24th, 2013, under Latest News

2 Responses to “Kirsten Lamb Sparks a Controversy—should authors review other author’s books”

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