Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Question of Building a Brand

I've heard several conflicting pieces of advice about whether I should post reviews, as a wannabe author. After all, if I say something negative about a book an agent represents, and that agent remembers me when I submit, I've shot myself in the foot. If I spark an author meltdown, I could also be remembered for the wrong reasons.

On the other hand, I'm consistent, and I don't pick on anyone. I try to post fair and accurate assessments of a book, so that people who like those kinds of things know to alter my rating depending on their own preferences. I'm biased, but at least I'm transparent about my biases.

Also, it seems like an awful lot of people stumble across my blog because of the reviews. I like people reading what I wrote, so that's the biggest reason why I'm unlikely to stop writing reviews. Should I pick up a writing contract and a publisher and/or agent says to knock it off, I'll probably change my mind.

I follow a lot of authors wherever they've made themselves easy to follow, though, and very few of them post book reviews. They rarely shy away from expressing other negative views in public, but I can imagine that disagreeing with another author, indirectly and without identifying them, is a far cry from having posted that one didn't enjoy the latest publication. It's this bit of evidence that had me most questioning my decision to post reviews.

In the end, though, the fact that Goodreads will duplicate my reviews onto my blog for general consumption is the whole reason I have this blog in the first place. That I'm tacking on my ramblings about writing and craft and grammar and whatnot is because I felt like there should be something else. Writing out the reviews in a way that'll make them palatable on my blog has me thinking more deeply about what I'm reading, though, and more strongly identifying what I like, what I didn't, and why it worked (or didn't). It has me reading as a writer, or at least better able to articulate my preferences and what I notice about craft in my reviews. I've read back through my old reviews, and my latest reviews are a lot more coherent, and I write them faster than I used to.

Beginning writers nowadays are often given the advice to start a blog, in order to build a brand. I don't think my blog is quite what they'd advise. It's helping me, nonetheless, though probably not in the way they mean.


  1. I post reviews about once a week on the blog, too. People really say wannabe writers are not supposed to review books on their blogs? Most pro writers don't but still . . .

    1. Yeah. I've heard conflicting advice. Some say no reviews, some say no reviews that aren't 5-star, some say no personal attacks (to which I say, "duh"). It's not consistent.

      I know my 4-star review of my friend's book was most appreciated, and she was pleased to get such a positive review from me. But I'm not hearing from the people who are upset about my reviews, because they're all intelligent and professional enough to avoid addressing me.

  2. *sigh* Yep. I'm one of the ones that has gone no star unless it's an OMG LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE book. Part of it was the advice of my editors and publicist and part of it is that putting faces to names makes the review process a little more difficult as well.

    Not all of them can be professional about a 4 star review. I made the best decision I could for myself and my career.

    1. It's because of Jenn's remarks about people flipping out over 4-star reviews from people they know that kept me from putting a star rating on your book when I put it on my blog.