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.
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.