Why I Don’t Write Book Reviews

I will, however, judge your bad fashion choices.
I will, however, judge your bad fashion choices.

I would love to. I’ve been reading since I was just out of infancy. Millions and millions of glorious, magnificent, fabulous words. Thousands of stories. Some I loved, some I hated, some that didn’t leave a lasting impression but were good for a couple of hours of entertainment. I love them all, even the bad ones. I wrote my way through my senior year of high school with book reports. In the past, I used to love writing reviews.

Things Are Different Now

I’m sure you’ve all heard of Amazon cracking down on reviews in an attempt to clean up the rather nasty problem of fake reviews and sock puppets. Now, Amazon says if you know an author, you may not review. Their TOS clearly states if you have a financial stake in a book, you cannot review, and they are removing reviews even as we speak.
From the start of my career as a professional editor, my policy has been I do not review. It sucks because I am an avid reader, the biggest fan of STORY. It’s part of the price I pay to do what I love for a living, and while I wish I could review, I can’t.

No Review For You

Think about it. If I review a client’s book, it’s a conflict of interest. Although I work on a flat fee basis and have no direct financial stake in its success, of course I want my clients to do well. What kind of credibility would I have in reviewing a client’s book? None. I will say I do not take on stories I don’t believe in 100%. I don’t work on books that are not ready or that I don’t like, and I am blessed with a wicked talented roster of clients. When I say I love a story or a character, I absolutely mean it or I wouldn’t say it.

But a detailed review? Can’t do it. It would be suspect and rightfully so.

Other People’s Work

“But what about other authors?” you may ask.

I’m glad you did.

I wish I could, but again, there pops up the specter of credibility. Not only that, but my personal reading time is really limited, and most of my reading time is spent on manuscripts I’m editing or craft books. I read outside that as time allows and to keep up with trends, but the fact is editing is my business and I find it difficult to read as a reader now and not an editor. It makes me sad sometimes, but the bright side is I’m doing what I love so how can I hold a grudge?

So, reviewing books as long as I’m working as an editor is a moral and ethical line I’m not willing to cross. Although I understand what Amazon is trying to do, I don’t fully agree with the way they’re going about it. You can’t really divorce the writer from the reader, and in today’s social media climate, readers know writers in a way unprecedented in the past.

I don’t have a solution, but I am watching Amazon and wondering how this is all going to shake out.

What do you think about Amazon’s new policy as a reader, writer, or editor?

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