Reviewer Ettiquette

Friday, January 14, 2011

One of the things I find interesting in the Decadent Debate is that idea that reviewers should not review books from presses they publish with. It is easily apparent that I don't follow this rule (Aspen Mountain Press, Cobblestone, Loose Id,  Phaze; although I do now avoid reviewing the works of friends and acquaintances).  So have I been behaving badly without even knowing it?  Is the implicit blessing (non-objection) of the authors and publishers what makes it okay? Is it okay; is it not?

7 comments:

Mina Kelly 2:12 PM  

I think it's important to be open about the fact you also write for that press, but unless the press itself has asked you not to (after all those reviewing circlejerks on Amazon a few years ago, I can see why they might) I don't think it's a serious issue.

I'd probably be more careful about what terms I couched my review in, though. Obviously one tries to talk about the book rather than the writer, but it's easy to make a generalisation that stretches further than you meant it to. I wouldn't want to accidentally malign someone who might be my next editor or have the story before to mine in an anthology.

Emily Veinglory: 2:16 PM  

I guess I have always thought that what I think of the book is just what I think of the book. I mean, I am not keen on her sweet corn fritters, but that doesn't reflect on how I feel about my mother.

Lynne Connolly 3:22 PM  

I think it's fine, as long as you're open with it, and state it upfront, as you have.
I choose not to review books by publishers I'm published by, but I can see that changing. If it does, it'll be stated, as you do it. It's my choice, not a requirement by any of the sites I review for.
It's if you don't state any possible conflict of interest that it can get murky.
While Decadent may or may not be playing with a straight bat, the reviewer should have stated that she is also published there. And it's not for the publisher's sake, it's so the reader can decide.

Teddy Pig 6:19 PM  

I can see NOT reviewing books you helped in some way with or where you personally know the author.

But authors are not employees of these Publishers so this is not an employee trust issue.

The whole "we are a big happy family" is creepy and weird. I want to work with professionals I respect not people trying to have some forced personal relationship with me.

I also dislike the idea that a negative review is a personal attack on the Author. A personal attack is NOT a book review it has to plainly be about an Author. An author is NOT a book.

Get over it!

There are so many problems with Publishers trying to control an Author's image that if a Publisher started saying shit like "you cannot publicly review one of our books" that mind you... "YOU" had nothing to do with, from an author YOU know nothing about but simply has the Publishers label on it.

I would get the hell away from them.

Next thing you know they will demand you never work for another Publisher and shit like that.

Like I said Apples and Oranges... authors are not employees of Publishers so let's me those expectations out of it.

Teddy Pig 6:22 PM  

Oops damn lack of editing...

so let's KEEP those expectations out of it.

Treva Harte 9:34 AM  

I used to review for a rather tough review site before I got into writing seriously. Once I'd been around enough to know authors and be published, I couldn't keep reviewing. My reviews came out like critiques about how this didn't work but it could be made better. Besides, I knew people and I was afraid it would affect my judgment. But that's just me. I'd want to know that the connections exist before I read a review or hired someone, though.

roslynholcomb 12:16 PM  

For the most part I don't do reviews now that I'm a published author. If I do talk about a book, I only do positive reviews. If there is a book that I feel a need to say something negative about, I won't name the book or the author.

There was a major brouhaha when my first book came out that left a seriously nasty taste in my mouth. I was accused of planting positive reviews of my book, while planting negative reviews of a similar book. Having my integrity questioned that way literally made me sick and I don't ever want to feel that way again.

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