It’s important not to tarnish your brand when you’re in the public eye – or to invite others to tarnish it for you. No matter how small a fish you might think you are. As an Indie author you really do have to be reading books by other Indies as well your traditionally published favourites, and leaving reviews for our peers is absolutely necessary for the good of the whole tribe. I will ask you one question though – how many times have Dan Brown or J K Rowling publicly published a bad review of their peers? They don’t, because there are reviewers out there who get to do those things, and they probably don’t want to get into barnies with other scribblers either. If you have set yourself up as a book reviewer as well as an Indie author that’s fair enough, as long as you’re prepared to take the possible fallout if you post a less than rosy review. I’ve seen troll brawls caused by a bad review that almost had me under the desk, and I wasn’t even involved, with authors taking down their books and bowing out of the industry.
I am not an official book reviewer. I do review books, but never publicly if I really haven’t enjoyed reading them. It’s not just because I don’t want to be the target of some troll rage takedown, but more because I know how much goes into the writing of a book. Not everyone can write a book. Even though we cringe at the thought of the millions of eBooks out there competing with ours for visibility, the fact is that less than one percent of the population of the planet are writers by trade, and that not all of them write good books. Their bad books are not hurting yours at all, so there’s no need to trash them when there are many non-writers who can and will do so with relish. We’re a little old segment of the planet, and I honestly don’t think that tearing each other down is the way to go. Especially if you have your writers eyeball out when you read a book and pick up on grammatical errors, expecting a novel to be written according to rules.
I haven’t written all my life, but I’ve read all my life, and I can tell the absolute difference to the way I read any book these days. I see things now that I never would have noticed before, but mostly I choose to unsee them straight away if I know they’re something I wouldn’t have picked up on back in my pre-writing days. So far I haven’t seen any writer who is also a book reviewer give a blatantly unfair review, so they’re mostly safe, but you have to ask yourself if posting a scorchingly bad review on any public site is worth the possible damage it could do to your public persona as an author.
On the other side of the coin, leaving a glowing review for a book that you didn’t like at all could also affect your credibility, so don’t do that – rather abstain entirely and move on to a new read. Lately there have been a couple of furores in Indie world about all sorts of things from attempts to get funding to take time off to write a book, to vicious troll attacks and catfishing. We all should realise that there are a lot of people out there on the internet who will attack with the slightest provocation, and sorry to say, some of them have written books, so I suggest that we stick to doing what we love best, and leave the review takedowns to the many people who enjoy that sort of thing. We’ve got much more important things to be getting on with than spending any of our time trashing anyone else’s book publicly. If you can’t give it three or more stars, just let it go.