Should Authors Review Books?
Lately a few posts around this topic have been appearing on my webosphere horizon. Some say yes and others say no. I’ve got a strong opinion on this topic so I’m keen to add my view to the pile.
Yes and No are both right. From my perspective, point of view, position and experience, the answer is a resounding YES. I’m not writing critical reviews on a specific book. When I review, I have two clear goals – to bring wonderful children’s books to the attention of parents, teachers, librarians and kids, and to support the Australian children’s literature community of which I am a proud and active member. These goals require me to review as diverse a range of titles and formats as possible.
I’ve reviewed books all over the net but currently, my main reviewing gig is the Sunday Telegraph Funday supplement, where the brief is two reviews of approximately 200 words for an Australian children’s book (picture books, junior fiction and non-fiction and the lower reading age end of YA) including a star rating, in line with the Funday’s readership demographic.
I want to showcase Oz kids books and I love that I have the opportunity to expose them to even a small slice of the Sunday Telegraph’s 1.1 million readership. I think that’s important. Opportunities for a print hard-copy review of an Australian children’s book are limited. Even my own window is constrained to two reviews a week.
Do I see a conflict of interest? No. I’m not reviewing my books. But what about my author friends and colleagues? And you might have noticed I never write a bad review. Can you trust me? YES. I only get to review two books and there is so much choice, I never choose one I don’t think is at least 4 stars out of five. I want to raise reading awareness, not waste space on a negative review. I share reviews across all publishers, the big and the small.
I know I’m on the right track when I get feedback from a reader via social media to say they bought a book I reviewed and recommended for a child. The best feedback of all is if they say the kid loved it and is now reading something new.