Recently, the subject of book reviews obtained during a book tour has come up. Considering that this topic caused so much grief and angst among the parties involved I thought it was worthy of a post.
So what was the issue? In a nutshell, the author of one of my book tours provided me with her book file to distribute among my hosts in order to garner new book reviews. Out of twelve participating tour host bloggers, I had three takers, willing to read and review. Out of the three, only one went on to write a Goodreads excerpt AFTER the tour concluded and not on her tour post. It’s important to note here that a Goodreads excerpt IS NOT a review, but more of a blog post. The excerpt was thoughtful and compelling and not at all a bashing of the book. Unfortunately, the author did not see it this way.
I received an email from the author “insisting” that I have the blogger remove the excerpt from Goodreads. I relayed the message to the blogger, who wasn’t impressed with the ultimatum and responded by posting an actual one-star review on Goodreads and Amazon. Whoops. That ultimatum backfired.
After several exchanges, with me in the middle, and where my services had suddenly come into question by the author, it was clear neither party was going to back down. This experience led me to wonder how fair it is for any author to expect only positive reviews during a book tour or under any circumstances for that matter. After all, an author can pay, oh let’s say NetGalley, for instance, to put a book on the NetGalley website to have them solicit reviews on the author’s behalf. If a NetGalley reader writes a negative review, should the author write an irate email to NetGalley insisting they instruct the reader to remove the review? Of course not. Why should a book tour be any different? Authors are paying NetGalley to market their book, just as they are paying a book tour provider to market their book.
Clearly, any Amazon seller (authors included) who gives away free products (in this case books) and states that only positive reviews are to be written is violating Amazon’s terms of service. That’s a definite no-no as far as Amazon is concerned. You can solicit reviews – you just have to be open to ALL reviews. And, should we as book reviewers compromise our opinions, thoughts, time (since it does take a fair amount of time to read and review a book) for the sake of not hurting an author’s feelings?
Authors must be willing to take the good with the bad. If you solicit someone’s opinion about anything, shouldn’t you be prepared to hear that opinion no matter how difficult it might be? Otherwise, maybe you shouldn’t ask in the first place. If you’re going to write a book and make it available to the masses then perhaps it’s wise to develop a skin thick enough to withstand the opinions of readers and take it as the constructive criticism that it’s meant to be.
There are many reasons for accepting and learning as much from negative reviews as we do from the positive ones. Perhaps I’ll go into that topic at a later date. Negative reviews come with the book publishing/author writing territory. It happens to EVERY author. For those of you who don’t already know, I’m an author as well. I have the ability to view things from all perspectives – tour provider, author, blogger and book reviewer.
As a tour provider, I don’t have the ability to force bloggers to read and review any book. I can offer, but I can’t twist any arms. If people are continually turning down the opportunity to read and review a book during a tour then perhaps there is something more going on? Perhaps it’s something…oh, I don’t know….maybe with the book?
My purpose for writing this post isn’t to shame anyone. Nor is it to call anyone out in public (hence the reason for not mentioning any names). The subtitle of this blog is “Bringing Authors and Readers Together” and if I can help clarify some preconceived notions that either party may have prior to coming together for their common goal of sharing their love of books then I’ll call it a day.
What are your thoughts? I’d love to know! Leave me a comment below 🙂