Content Creation: Book Reviews

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Should you write book reviews for your blog (or record them for your vlog or podcast)? This is a topic I’ve broached before and have gone back and forth on a few times. I started out writing book reviews fairly regularly on this very site because it seemed like a good way to generate continuous content. After all, as a writer I do read a fair amount.

Personally, I found that trying to write reviews as a form of regular content wasn’t for me. I read kinda slowly (and honestly don’t make as much time to read as I should), and I always felt like I was rushing through books to get reviews up, which took a lot of the enjoyment out of the reading. I think it’s easier to leave the reviews on my Goodreads page, posting them whenever I happen to finish something, and find other content to write for my blog.

I also think, as far as content goes, that reviews have some specific pitfalls to them. For me, the biggest issue is that there is an underlying tension between being a reviewer and being an author that might cause problems for you down the line.

As a reviewer, your readers expect you to give them honest feedback on a story. Was it good or bad, what did and didn’t work, would you recommend this book to others? If your readers get a sense that you aren’t giving them meaningful insight into the stories you’re reviewing, then your reviews won’t gain your platform any traction. There will be times when you will want (and need) to say bad things about other authors’ work because it’s what your audience will expect.

However, as an author, you want to cultivate relationships with other authors who might be in a position to help you promote your work, introduce you to connections in the publishing industry, or maybe even become a critique partner. Giving someone’s work a bad review, even if the review isn’t mean spirited or cruel, can close doors for you. If someone knows you don’t like their work, it’s unlikely they will want to work with you, and they will almost certainly not go out of their way to help you along with your career.

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That being said, I don’t think your platform has to be devoid of any or all reviews. But my advice would be to stick with sharing the things that you enjoy.

One of the powerful things about social media is that it gives your followers insight into who you are as a creator. It lets people know your interests, your inspirations, or your work methods. You can use your platform to promote books, shows, or movies that you’re passionate about, which is, I think, more likely to draw potential readers to you. Fewer people might follow you for specialized information in this case, but people who share your passions and interests are likely to want to connect with you. And when they learn that you write your own stories, they might just want to give them a try.

But these are only my thoughts on review writing. I’ve heard other people have generated some great traction as reviewers, and there are some Booktubers who are writers as well. What are your thoughts on reviewing? Do you agree that you should stick to things you like and keeping it positive, or is it worth it to hand out the honest bad review in an effort to build your platform?

Thanks for reading, and please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments or bring it up with me on social media.

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4 thoughts on “Content Creation: Book Reviews

  1. You brought up great points I wish I’d read before I traveled down my own review/don’t review path. I started a tumblr to talk about what I love and reviewed a very popular YA book.

    Mind you, I didn’t roast the book–quote the opposite, but I did mention some not-so-positive remarks and passionately so at that.

    A week later, I posted the book’s main character as one of my “woman crush Wednesday” posts. Lo and behold, the author, the actual author, liked the latter post. Which meant she’d likely seen the former. I was mortified even though I wrote way more positive stuff than negative.

    I abandoned my reviewer status. As an aspiring author, I agree with you that it may not be in your best interests to ruffle feathers in the small world that publishing appears to be. But, as an avid reader, it’s hard to keep muzzled when you want to talk about something that affected you so much, for better or worse.

    I may revisit this if I find a way to separate church and state.

  2. Really good post.
    I’ve found the two to be mutually exclusive. I review books I’m happy to give four or five stars to on Amazon and Goodreads, but I don’t cross-post those reviews to my blog. Three stars or less? I follow the old saying, “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” There probably shouldn’t be a premium on four or five star reviews. A three star review is still a book the reader enjoyed. And I’m aware that for Amazon’s analytic purposes, it’s not the stars you get – it’s purely a numbers game, so any review is a “good” review in terms of visibility on Amazon. But I know my own feelings are hurt by reviews of less than four stars, so I’ve just stopped doing reviews for books I don’t absolutely love.
    If I’ve learned something from reading a book that I want to share on my blog, I cast it that way: as a learning point. I don’t name the book, although I will explain what it was about the book that didn’t work for me in general terms. That way I can focus on the positives: what I’ve learned that will improve my own writing, rather than risk hurting another author’s feelings.

  3. When I become an author, I made the decision to rarely write reviews. (IMHO)Authors are literary professionals. And since I consider myself to be ‘in the business,’ I’m deluded enough to think my words might carry undue weight with the reading public. Good or bad, I worry readers, some of whom may also be fans, might see my words as an endorsement. Or worse, have a negative opinion cause unintentional harm.

    That’s not to say that I never write reviews, just if I do, I automatically consider it an unsolicited endorsement and I write it as such.

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