I recently bought myself a Kindle (whoo hoo!) because I’ve been itching to read some new authors, but have found many of them have self-published only in digital copy. One of the first books I downloaded came from a Facebook advertisement. I figured I had nothing to lose, so I downloaded the free copy and started reading.
I could not put the book down! I absolutely loved it. I noticed there were very few reviews on Amazon for the book, so I decided to write up a review, and post it here as well (of course!). In considering the post here, I realized I could message the author and see if he would mind answering a few questions for my blog. He responded in the affirmative, so that post will go up soon – once I finish writing my review and put together his responses.
As I thought about it, I realized I’d really like to help out new authors. As of this moment, my blog audience isn’t large, but I hope to grow it as time goes on. Hopefully, this will be a benefit to upcoming writers. However, I was struck with a dilemma. I decided to consult my favorite Facebook group, Fiction Writing, and pool the opinions of 70k+ people. Here’s my post:
For those of you who do book review blogs or blog tours for new books: I want to help out other new writers by promoting their books and doing some basic interview questions on my blog. However, I’m torn – I don’t want to recommend books that are awful, and I don’t want to give a bad review to a struggling author. Does anyone have any recommendations on how to walk that line? The only thing I can think of is reading each book myself before asking an author if they’d like to be featured, but that doesn’t get solve the problem if someone approaches me first (which just happened). Thank you!
I received a variety of answers, which have been extremely helpful. Basically, I’ve decided that I will agree to look at a novel/chapbook/whatever if it interests me, then decide if the work is something I can endorse. If so, I will feature the writer and his/her work in a blog post, along with a few personal questions. I will also, of course, leave a review on Amazon and elsewhere; any featured author will receive a 3 star review or higher. If I cannot endorse the book (for poor writing, plot or anything else), I’ll give the writer the choice of me posting a poor review or none at all. Oh, and if I read an unknown book on my own and simply love it, I’ll likely contact the writer myself to see if he/she would like to be featured.
The question that kept coming up in the facebook discussion is integrity; can you really review books and only post about good ones? In my opinion, yes. If someone comes to me for publicity and I cannot give good feedback, I don’t think it’s kind to post a negative review when they sought me out. HOWEVER, this does not apply to books I have purchased or downloaded for free. No holds barred there. I have no problem giving bad reviews if the product deserves it and I’ve spend money or time on it. After careful consideration, I don’t want that for my blog. I want to uplift when asked for help, not tear down. To that end, if I turn down a writer, I’ll do my best to offer constructive criticism as to why.
All that to say: please stay tuned for a whole new category of posts featuring new, upcoming, or unknown writers! I cannot wait to see what gems I discover and can share with you.
If you would like to be one of my featured writers, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.