How not to get your book reviewed

“Nimue…did you read it all?  If not can I ask that you do so?  If you have read it can you speak to it as if in reference to what it can do for folks waiting for it?  You know the ones of your audience on the ascension trail. 🙂  In fact a reviewer does not look at hat it can do for you personally but for what it can do for others who read it.”

I’d read slightly under half and said it was not a book I could review or endorse. That should have been the end of the conversation. The first rule of reviewing is that it has to be fine for people not to like your book. Some people won’t like your book. If the people who don’t like your book offer not to review it, they’ve just done you a kindness, as I see it. I’d rather not spend time and energy drawing attention to books I dislike, so it’s only if something seems dangerous or potentially damaging that I’ll go so far as to review bad ones. Usually, I just don’t review them. It wasn’t *that* bad a book, just smug, dogmatic, one true way all this life is illusion create your own reality. Why she thought I’d make a good reviewer is anyone’s guess.

Don’t tell a reviewer how to review. That’s not clever or polite. Unless they ask for your opinion on their review, at no stage should you do this, aside from at the end when they have reviewed, and you say thank you, and if their review is awesome, you say so, and if it’s a bit short, you say ‘that’s great, thanks’. The wiser author also doesn’t argue with reviewers about what they think, how they feel and how they express that. Most reviewing is unpaid. If someone gives your book time and attention, it makes more sense to be nice to them. They are doing you a favour. They have no reason to be nice to you. If you are a git, they will not review you, or not review kindly.

No, you can’t ask me or any other reviewer to read the whole book. Whether I read any of it is up to me. Whether I can comment on it is also my choice. The trouble is that new authors all too often do feel a bit entitled, sure they have the book everyone has been waiting for, and expecting everything to fall into place. ( I was there, many yeas ago) It generally doesn’t, and either you grow fast, and learn and survive, or you succumb to anger, bitterness, and resentment.

I care about my reputation, and the relationship of trust I am trying to build with people who read what I have to say. I think most reviewers do – you don’t enter into an exchange of ideas only to appease the author. What point would there be?

I’m busy, I get a lot of demands on my time. If I like your project, if I like you as a person then I’ll support you in whatever way I can, but treat me like something you are entitled to, expect me to like your stuff, expect me to support you… and you’ll find that doesn’t work well. I’m nice enough not to name the author and the project, but that’s an act of generosity on my part. One the author in question is unlikely to notice and appreciate.

The timing is interesting because I’ve just read all of Mark Townsend’s ‘The Gospel of Falling Down’ – which I loved, and will review properly at some point. He explores and exposes the illusions of spiritual growth. Right now ‘the ascension trail’ sounds like everything I want to avoid.


About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

4 responses to “How not to get your book reviewed

  • Aurora J Stone

    A reviewer’s case well stated. A reviewer without personal standards and integrity is useless both to writers and readers.

  • paulaacton

    I have a rule that if I cannot give at least three stars (amazon scale) for a review I don’t do it and I also have to be able to list at least as many positives as negatives, I have to confess though I have lied to a fellow author once by apologising and saying I did not have time to read their book rather than tell them I really didn’t like it and had found multiple issues with the writing. I felt a total coward but there was no way I could explain where the work failed without them being upset and I was taught if you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all.

  • crychydd

    As someone who has undertaken paid reviewing for literary journals, I find the idea that a reviewer should be anything else but honest about the value of a book a strange one. While it is of course important to be as sympathetic as possible to what the writer is attempting, it is a disservice to the readers of the review (and potential purchasers of the book) not to say what needs to be said about it.
    There does seem to be a culture of mutual backslapping in some reviews on blogs, but that can only contribute t their irrelevance.

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