On Book Reviews and Full Disclosure

I’ve read a few stories* recently about book reviewers charging money or being bullied for their reviews, and it occurred to me that maybe I should explain how things work around this here blog.

  1. I don’t usually mention in a review that I got a book free from an author. I also don’t usually mention when I’ve picked up a book for free at The Book Thing or when I checked it out of the library or when I got it as a gift from a well-meaning friend or when I won it through the Early Reviewers program on LibraryThing or when I found it by chance via BookCrossing. The point is most of the books I read were free to me so I don’t feel any need to specify in the review how the book made its way into my hands. An author seeking a review has to pitch the book to me first and if it sounds like something I’d enjoy then I accept, but if not, then not. All the books I read are because I want to, not because I feel obligated. Getting it directly from an author only means that I’ll read it sooner, not that I’ll have different thoughts about it.
  2. The book and its author are separate in my mind. I don’t care if the author is a jerk or an angel; the work stands on its own. I don’t assume, for example, that an author necessarily holds the same opinions as the narrator of his/her novel. So whatever I say about a book, positive or negative, is what I feel about the book. I don’t have any feelings whatsoever about the author as a person.
  3. I have never been bullied into giving a more positive review. I say up front in my book review guidelines that I make no promises to like any book, after all. The worst treatment I’ve ever received from an author after they read my review of their book was a complete cessation in communication; that is, they simply never replied to my email. And that’s fine. The rest of the authors I’ve worked with have been very friendly and gracious.
  4. There’s no paid advertising on my blog. When I make posts encouraging you to purchase something or visit a site or whatever, it’s because I either totally believe in what I’m promoting, am doing a favor for a friend, or (most often) both. It is never because I am being paid for it, and if it ever is then I will most definitely say so.

I hope that clears things up. (If they needed clearing up, that is.) If anyone has strong feelings on the subject I’d be happy to add a section of my blog posts to explain how the book made it into my hands. I don’t think it’s all that important, but maybe it is to other people, and it’s certainly no huge burden for me to do so.

*Hat tip to Cleolinda for the links.

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