Sunday, February 26, 2012

Book Reviewing as a Writer

Last year, at Readers 'n Ritas, I was sitting in on an author panel discussion and the comment was made by one of the authors that if you ever plan to get published as a writer, you should never be a book reviewer.


I started this blog last year in January. At that point in time, I was not a writer. It was a dream, yes, but I had done NOTHING to pursue that dream. It was just that...a dream.

Why did I start this blog?

Honestly, I liked the excuse it gave me. My husband had been deployed for six months the year before that and I quickly rediscovered my fanatical love for books. At that point in time, there were a group of us on Facebook who would discuss books and series and recommendations a couple of times a week. I was subscribed to several book review blogs and decided that creating one of my own would be a great way to share my love of books. I love books and want everyone to love them just as much as I do.

I AM NOT A BOOK CRITIC! I read for the enjoyment of it and my ratings are based upon much I enjoy the book. It has absolutely NOTHING to do with the overall literary skill of the author...plain and simple, I rate based upon my personal feelings about the book. Since starting this blog, I have become more aware of the reasons behind whether I like a book or not and usually try to substantiate my feelings. NEVER do I write a review so that I can simply slam a book or author. If that were my goal in all this, I would choose very different books. There are whole genres out there that I could read and hate on a regular basis. That's not my goal here. I want to read a fabulous book and then convince you that you need to read it too...and then maybe we can chat about it. That's it...plain and simple.

After I started this blog in January, I started sitting down and consciously writing in August. I had a dream and the more that I read, the more I wanted that dream.

Why do I write?

We've already established I love to read. I love that feeling that I get when I read a good book. That special zing in my system that's simply euphoria that comes from visiting a magical, special world through a book. That's my goal and why I write. If I can transport a single person to feel that magic, I will be happy.

Do I want to get published? Absolutely. Just like I want others to read the same books that I love, I am hoping other people will feel that way about the books I write.

Do I worry that my book reviewing threatens my future as a published writer? God, I hope it doesn't, but there are times when it crosses my mind. Just this week I wrote a bad review for a publishing company which is my dream to work with. To think I could hurt my chances by giving  a book a low rating...*eeks* That's just not a thing that I want to even consider.

The thing about it is... reading is subjective. I realize that even more now that I am a reviewer. So much of why I like or don't like a book is about me and my mood when I read a book. When I give a bad review, I try to point that out, but that is probably wrong too. I never give a good review and then point out that I probably was just having a really good day that!

So how do I see my life as a reviewer AND a writer?
I honestly think that my reviewing has made me a better writer. Whenever I read a book that I am hating, I try to analyze exactly why I am hating it and if I have those same flaws in my WIP. The same thing goes for the things that I love about certain books.

I have also come to realize that the things that bug me about certain books are things that I find challenging as a writer, so I am simply more aware of them as others' work and in my own.

Personally, I think that I can be BOTH reviewer and writer. I hope so, because I plan to continue doing both and I need the continued excuse to buy as many books as I do...hehe!

I realize that not everyone is going to love my books and I am okay with that. 

Authors, you HAVE to accept that. Not everyone is going to love your book. It says NOTHING about your skill as a writer. The fact of the matter is if a publishing house has put money into your book, you have skills as a writer. Period. Just because I, or some other reader, doesn't like it, that does not negate your abilities. It simply means that we didn't connect with your story...or your characters...or your dialogue...or the fact that you named the dog in the story Flower. Or it could mean that reader was having a really off day and it was not the day for her/him to be reading your particular book. It is not a personal attack on you.

Just some thoughts from me, both reviewer and writer, on this Sunday morning. Now I have both writing and reviewing to get done today, so I should stop procrastinating.

Have a great day, today!!! Go find something fabulous to read!


Felicia the Geeky Blogger said...

I have heard that too but then others started that way. Both Dakota and Louisa reviewed books before becoming authors. I think you should do what makes you happy. If you are meant to be both, then you will be :)

Vanessa theJeepDiva said...

I've heard an author mention that other authors get upset with her if she doesn't LOVE their book when she reviews it. She made it out to seem like there was a great deal of drama with it. Apparently if you're an author you have to give other authors stella reviews. She reviews under a different name now.

Like Felicia said, do what makes you happy.

Julie said...

Great post Christi! I often think that must really suck seeing a bad review - especially a badly written one - when you are the author of the book. I know how you are and I'm sure you are not going to go crack-crazy like some authors out there when you get published (and you will) and someone thinks your book is 'meh'. I am so proud of you for following your dream. So wicked cool!
And, by the way, Jennifer Estep writes and reviews - and she's tough. It's dooable. You just have to be professional with your reviews. :)