Before I begin, I’d just like to say that I am really sick and tired of this cold weather! This whole month has seen NYC turn into a total ice box, and I cannot take it anymore! I know the Farmer’s Almanac predicted a very cold winter, but I didn’t realize how painfully cold it would be. It makes me long for those sticky hot summer days. Oh wait…
OK, onto today’s topic. I am an author. I wrote a book and I published it, albeit all on my own. I know firsthand how hard it is to develop characters and a storyline, convey emotion, a vivid setting while using the loveliest prose I can. It is not easy, and it is hard work and deep concentration.
So, does that mean I should change my approach to reviewing other authors’ books?
Before I published my book, I read and reviewed books like any other reader. But since becoming an author myself, I’ve been questioning how I should review books. I know how hard it is to write a story, so shouldn’t I be more lenient on flaws? And also, if I’m a writer too, then I am on the same level as any other writer, which means I am a peer.
I feel nervous when I review books, which is why I’ve only reviewed two books since publishing The Dark Proposal. Part of me fears that I would be a hypocrite to point out flaws in books that may also exist in mine. I mean, should I really say something about a flaw in the plot, writing or development when someone might think my book was equally flawed? Who would I be to complain then?
And how critical should I be? If I am gentle, am I sugarcoating? Or if I give a thorough review, am I being too harsh? What if my review sounds like I think the author wrote their book wrong, and I’m hinting at how I would’ve wrote it?
I have just always felt that as an author, my approach to reviewing cannot be the same as any other reader. I also feel that my reviews may be seen with a more critical eye given that I wrote a book myself. Plus, I have no author clout now, so I definitely don’t have any authority on what is a great book and what isn’t.
So how should I review books for now on? I get the impression that they should be like a peer to peer review. But how do I do that? Do I do it like one of my writer critique groups, where we point out the positives and negatives of each others’ work? Do I use a tone used in college papers for English lit courses?
I’m going to find out what is the best way to approach reviewing now. I’ve seen some authors reviewing other authors’ books as if they are ordinary readers, and I can’t help but think that is not the right angle. I’ve also noticed some hypocrisy like pointing out poor editing when these authors have the same problem in their books. Things like that that makes me think authors of any level should be aware that once they release a book, they can’t take off their writer hats so easily.
How about you? Has being an author changed how you review books? Or do you feel you can still review like any other reader?