Should authors write book reviews?

Some people say writers shouldn’t review books (because reasons), but I’ve also heard it said that non-writers shouldn’t review books: “I’m not a writer. I don’t even know how to write a book, so I’m not qualified to say whether a book is good or not.”

Readers are the people books are for. Writers are readers, too (if not, they’re like the proverbial skinny cook), so books are also for us. If writers can’t review books, and non-writers can’t review books, who is left to review all the books?

These things are subjective, friends. “This is a good story” (or “This is not a good story”) is an opinion, no matter whose opinion it is. (Sometimes, “This book is full of grammer error every where, the author don’t know how to write good” is also just an opinion.) Any review is valid as long as it’s what you really think about a book you really did read. It’s nice to say a bit about why you have that opinion (“I dislike this book because the protagonist cussed way too much for my tastes” is a much better review than “This book is terrible!” It could be that some other reader doesn’t mind strong language, or it could be that you pointing out the cussing helps another reader avoid something they don’t want to see, either.)

Over on Insecure Writer’s Support Group, they’ve got a post today giving six reasons why authors should review books.

(WTF, WordPress spell check? Now writers isn’t a word, either? *shakes head*)

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About Thomas Weaver

I’m a writer and editor who got into professional editing almost by accident years ago when a friend from university needed someone to copyedit his screenplay about giant stompy robots (mecha). Having discovered that I greatly enjoy this kind of work, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use ever since as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom. I'm physically disabled, and for the past several years, I’ve lived with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have six cats. (The preferred term is "Insane Cat Gentleman.") I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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6 Responses to Should authors write book reviews?

  1. I’m trying to recall where I read it, but I saw a wonderful rebuttal to the logical fallacy of “You’re not a writer/film maker/video game creator so you can’t critique me!” It doesn’t make any sense. Just because you’re not the one making the story, it doesn’t mean you don’t know how a story should be told. There are definitely good reviewers and bad reviewers. There’s an art to it, but not being a creator of any type of media doesn’t preclude you from being of the former.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I just try to review what I like and be honest. Also, a key bit is to admit your biases. Then let the reader of the review determine what to do!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Exactly. I don’t like present-tense narration, but if I say that’s WHY I didn’t like a book, someone who does like present tense may read the review and think, ‘Great — just the story I was looking for.’

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Jay Dee says:

    I write and I review. Although it’s been a while since I’ve done a review, I like to support other authors, especially when they’ve written some great books. I would never write a truly negative review. I’m always writing constructive reviews, and even if I give the book 2 stars, I still recommend it to the people who may enjoy it. Just because I didn’t enjoy it much doesn’t mean someone else won’t. I let people know that. Take my review as just one review. To get a good idea, read many reviews. And because I write, I see some things differently than others (grammar, editing, and formatting tend to attract my attention a lot).

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Props to Jay Dee! I also write constructive reviews, the kind of reviews that I appreciate as a reader. A review that merely states that a book is good, bad, awesome, terrible, etc. without including any supporting evidence is not helpful. I want to know why. I recently developed a rubric for reviewing books because I wanted to be fair, consistent, and as objective as possible in a very subjective situation.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Jenn Moss says:

    Writers are humans with opinions, likes and dislikes, just like everyone else. No reason not to leave reviews, but also no reason to think our reviews carry more weight than a non-writer’s.

    Liked by 2 people

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