Conundrum: Should Authors Wear the ‘Reviewer’ Hat? (Part 2)

Hello again, and thank you for stopping in a second time this week. Here is where we left off (should you be a blog-post behind and want to catch up 🙂 ).

I’ve posted plenty of ‘thoughts on books’ at this blogsite. (They’re categorized under ‘Reviews’ and ‘Thoughts on Books”, but I no longer consider them formal ‘reviews.’ Perhaps I don’t feel qualified to ‘review’ someone else’s work. MHO maintains that critiquing someone else’s story implies I know something more and maybe that just ain’t so. )

Aside: Remembering to post my thoughts at bookseller sites is a whole ‘nother ball-of-wax. Kind of messes with the reasons why one writes them in the first place. 🙂

Like Carrie Rubin, if I do blog about a specific book, I’m going to keep it positive. Most authors invest a lot of time, effort and heart into their works. It’s no fun to feel all that input trashed by someone who didn’t like it.

I know first-hand how it feels to be on the receiving end of some really nice reviews. I’ve also had lower-number-star reviews. These were generally kind, but suggested my debut novel was just okay. (I appreciated the kindness and took the positive out of the reviewer’s thoughts.)

So how do I handle it when my (Ahem!) constructive feedback outweighs the encouraging thoughts?

One: If the book just doesn’t do it for me—even if I promised a review in exchange for a copy of the book—I’ve gone one of two ways. If I can get through it, I’ll keep it positive and hone in on the good stuff. Recently though, I emailed an author with my concerns and why I couldn’t FINISH his/her particular book. (Not that I received a response. Shoulder shrug.)

Two: I will voice my issues with a story in a blog post. I plan on doing so next time—namelessly. Not to trash the author or the book, but to offer suggestions to other writers about tactics, etc, that put me off as a reader, but as a reader-turned-writer too.

And this is where things get mucked up for those of us who wear the author/writer/reader hat. Is it a conflict of interest to consume the very product I produce? I’ve yet to meet a writer who wasn’t an avid reader. (I imagine most of us remain the latter.) My problem: my increasingly critical writer/editor side has messed with my willingness to slog through work that isn’t up to the standards I’ve learned—or have been told—should exist.

Finally, if the reader/writer ‘reviewers’ take that step back and don’t offer their opinions on fellow authors’ works, I think we’d be losing a host of highly insightful thoughts into what makes a book palatable. After all, I’m thinking we be the toughest nuts to crack when it comes to deeming a story a ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ read.

Should we post constructive thoughts, or just the glowing positive thoughts—at our blogs, review and/or bookseller sites?

If the constructive feedback is not terribly discouraging, disparaging and not necessarily overriding the good in the story, sure. I.e.,  ‘this worked for me, but I might have preferred if the author had…”

Hain’t ya glad I didn’t dump all this into a comment on your blog, Carrie?

Your turn, friends. Can’t imagine we’re lacking for thoughts on this. Let ’em ride! 😀

Happy rest of the week and weekend,





An Invitation to Writers and Authors: Every Stage of the Journey

For anyone and everyone willing to trek out to North-Central New Jersey for a ‘magical day’:

Liberty States Fiction Writers present the 2011 Create Something Magical Conference!

When: March 19, 2011

Where: Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel, Iselin, New Jersey, 515 Route 1 South & Gill Lane, Iselin, New Jersey 08830

Phone: 732-634-3600 Fax: 732-634-0258


Keynote Speaker Mary Janice Davidson, New York Times and USA Today best-selling and prolific writer who is published primarily in paranormal romance but also fantasy and non-fiction.

Plus an exciting line-up of speakers and workshops to help hone and polish your writing:

Cathy Maxwell:  Voice–

Your Writing Personality?

Jonathan Maberry:  Going Pro: Becoming a Professional Writer

Mary Burton:  Writing Mysteries

Virginia Kantra: Dialogue

Angela James: Managing Your Author Brand

Sarah Wendell: Blogging

Debra Mullins: Creating Complicated Characters

Judi McCoy: Five Must Do Steps to Self Editing

Treva Harte & Diane Whiteside: NY Publishers vs. ePublishers: What Do They Want

Lisa Verge Higgins: It’s All About Emotional Intimacy: Working With Point of View

Judi Fennell: Novel in a Nutshell

Stephanie Julian:    Over the Plate Pitches

Melinda Leigh & KM Fawcett: Martial Arts & Writing Action

Tracey Lyons: Gone Fishing: How to Catch an Agent

Jenni Holbrook: Writing Synopsis

Keri Mikulski, Alison Formento, and Jennifer Hubbard: Writing Children’s Books and YA Novels

Our conference will offer a new feature this year, video pitches with Kevan Lyon of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency has graciously agreed to take appointments via webcam.

Other agents also attending:

Louise Fury, L. Perkins Agency

Marisa Corvisiero, L. Perkins Agency

Lois Winston,  Ashley Grayson Agency

Mary Sue Seymour., The Seymour Agency

Nalini Akolekar, Spencerhill Associates

Kevan Lyon, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency

*****Editors who are attending to hear pitches from Conference Attendees:****

Wendy Lee, Avon/Harpercollins

Angela James, Carina Press

Latoya Smith, Grand Central Publishing

Renee Rocco, Lyrical Press

Heather Osborn, Samhain Publishing

Raelene Gorlinsky, Ellora’s Cave Publishing

Treva Harte, Loose-Id

Stephanie Murray, Crescent Moon Press

Marlene Castricato, Crescent Moon Press

Kathy Cottrell, The Wild Rose Press

Holly Schmidt, Ravenous Romance

Karen Syed, Echelon Press

Editors from    Harlequin Enterprises, namely:

Elizabeth Mazer, Assistant Editor, Love Inspired/Silhouette

Stacy Boyd, Senior Editor, Desire

Keyren Gerlach, Associate Editor, Romantic Suspense

Susan Litman, Editor, Special Edition

Shana Smith, Assistant Editor, Desire/Romantic Suspense

Also included in the conference are gift basket giveaways, lunch, a networking reception, and a multi-author book signing. The book signing is open to the public.

****Registration ends March 1.****

Registration:  Liberty States Fiction Writers Members $110, Non-Members $130, Conference with Membership or renewal $145

Please visit Liberty States Fiction Writers for more details and to register online!

The Liberty States Fiction Writers welcome pre-published writers at all levels as well as e-published, small press and traditionally published authors.

FYI from Joanna: This class-act conference really is a great day: fun, exciting, informative and a great opportunity to network and hob-knob with other folks who ‘get’ what we writer-people are all about!

Have a great day, everyone! Thanks!