The 2018 Etiquette of Book Reviewing

DSCN7023.JPGA lot has changed in book reviewing in my lifetime. Nowadays, professional book reviews still appear in published magazines, both online and in print, but more book reviews appear on Amazon, B & N, Goodreads, varied social media like blogs and on/through NetGalley, a site to which publishers pay money for the right to display the titles they would most like to promote to readers.

What is expected from reviewers? Readers of Goodreads know that many reviewers are hard to please. If a book does not sink its teeth into these reviewers by Chapter 3, an author may expect less than five stars, even if he is Tolstoy. The reviews are sincere, if harsh.

If you read reviews by people who get their books through NetGalley, then “I got this book for free” is the amateurish first line–one of the drawbacks of handing books out for free.

Professional writers know that the first sentence is worth $58. Or close.

Then there are reciprocated reviews. Those are tricky. Authors who review for other authors do not know what they are getting. If they write nice things about bad books, no one will believe them as time goes on.

Still, etiquette dictates a certain amount of grace. If someone is kind enough to give your book a good review–or let us go a step further–if someone is kind enough to give you a great review (without being asked) on a blog and on Amazon and/or Goodreads, that person deserves more than a message of thanks. That person deserves some investigation. Is he or she an author? Might you investigate that person’s writing to repay the favor? (Since you have already received the great review, the discovery of the author being a horrible writer simply means you don’t have to do anything. Be grateful and do not send the reviewer your latest work, hoping for more freebies.)

That is the etiquette of book reviewing in 2018.

You are welcome!


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