Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Are you a reader or a writer? And how does that affect your blog?

So I like reading books. I read at least three or four books a week. This is counting both published books, MS's from The Agent, and ARC's.

For published books, these are either borrowed from my local library, bought by me, or sent to me as wins from contests or the publisher.  I usually can only afford to buy books that I love and so I naturally want to share the lovely book with my blog readers.

MS's from The Agent are not shared with anyone, not reviewed anywhere, and the readers reports are only sent to The Agent and the person who keeps track of requested material. That will never change.

For ARC's, most of the time it's required that I review the books I get. Sometimes those books are awesome, like Hannah Moskowitz's INVINCIBLE SUMMER and Beth Revis' ACROSS THE UNIVERSE and I'm happy to contribute to the buzz that helps them to sell more copies when the book releases.

But sometimes those books just don't do it for me. Sometimes it's the writer's fault, sometimes it's mine. That's okay. Not every book is going to please every reader. 

But I'm not a reader. 

I'm a writer. I have chosen that as my ambition, and with that ambition comes specific obligations. One of those obligations is that I should never write negative reviews and post them in public places. 

They say that if you write unfavorable reviews, It's like taking a giant crap on the heads of the writer, the editor, the publishing house, and the agent who all worked to get that book published. You shouldn't say not nice things about people that you may want to have a working relationship in the future. Because, duh, if you say bad things about my friends I won't want to be friends with you either. 

So for me this means deleting my Goodreads account/reviews and removing book reviews from my website (or changing them to "book recommendations.") It means removing myself from ARC tours and waiting until books actually come out before I get to read them. It was a hard decision to come to as I enjoy sharing my opinions and I love Goodreads, but sometimes sacrifices have to be made.

I'm content to be a writer, and to leave the book reviewing up to those who make that their ambition. 

So, are you a writer or a reader? What will that choice mean for you?


C.A. Marshall is a freelance editor, lit agent intern, YA writer, and loves to play with her dog Mollie. She dreams of one day owning a small house near the water, preferably in England, with a shelf full of books she has written and has helped others to write. She is currently single. And unagented. She can be found in Emmett, MI, at for writing, for editing, and on twitter @CA_Marshall.


  1. I don't review either for the very same reason. It can be hard to swallow that we can't share our opinion as openly as we would like sometimes, but I can see the point.

  2. I totally agree, Cass. I think it is unprofessional to make negative comments about books in a public forum. It can alienate both publishing professionals -and- readers.

    I'm all for gushing, but I'll keep my negative comments to myself. And my friends.

  3. I am a writer and a reader. I love rating books on Goodreads. It helps me keep track of what I've read and what I've loved, because I can't remember anything on my own anymore, it seems like. If someone asks me what my favorite books are, I check my goodreads page.

    (Invincible Summer loves you too, btw)

    But I do have rules, and they're kind of hypocritical and stupid, but they're what I have to do:

    --If I know the writer or the editor/agent well, and I would have given the book less than 3 stars, I don't rate it. I mark it as read and leave it at that. This pretty much means that, for YA, I only rate the ones I like, since I know everybody.

    --However, if it came out more than 5 years ago, I rate it however I want without regards to who I know, because I figure at this point it's too late for anyone to really be hurt by it.

    --As for reviewing, I only write bad reviews for big books. There is one book and one book only that I regularly talk shit about in public. And I chose this book 1. because I hate it with the passion of a thousand suns and 2. because the author/book is WAAAY to big a deal to give a shit about what a chick like me thinks. I'm not really hurting anyone. I'm hopefully saving some people from reading it.

  4. I like what Hannah does about less than 3 stars she doesn't review them. I do the same thing for the most part.

    I use goodreads to keep track of the books I want to get. I'd forget without it!! But I'm always careful, even if I didn't like parts of a book, there's almost always something good to say about it ;o)

    I'm honest in my reviews but I keep them positive ;o)

  5. I'm a writer, so I don't write book reviews (but film). I think as a writer I read and comment on books for the author to help them improve their work, but not to tell people to read it or not.
    I also think every review should not be personal about´the writer, but about the content, because writer's are just humans and make mistakes or sometimes still need to learn more.
    Nahno ∗ McLein

  6. It takes a lot for me to write a bad review. As a writer, you know that regardless of how you feel, it's likely that it is a piece of the authors heart and soul. If I really hate something I generally keep it to myself or do like others have said and just mark read on gr.

  7. I love reading and writing, but I won't combine the two. I use to post about books I loved, but then worried that someone might buy the book I recommend and discover they hate it. So now I just read to learn, and let everyone else hype books. :)

  8. I don't do reviews, for very similar reasons. I have the same outlook as Stina.

  9. I'm kind of both - writer and reader. But my blog is not devoted to reviews, and I don't have a regular review segment or anything. I don't even know the formula for writing a proper review. And I don't really care either :D

  10. I'm both, but I've learned that it is best to only review a book if I like it. Juju from Tales of Whimsy reviews books and she does something really cool when she receives an ARC she doesn't care for. She says on her blog that she just doesn't think the book is for her and does a book giveaway to give other people a chance to try it out. Very diplomatic of her and she's right - not every book is for us, but someone will like it.

  11. I agree. This debate has gone on for a long time with me. I never intended my blog to be a "book blog" but it is that. It's hard for it not to be when books are my life. Literally. I read them, write them and I'm a bookseller.

    But what does that mean for my blog? It means I don't post negative reviews. It means if I don't like a book I just DONT TALK ABOUT IT. It's like being a kid and experiencing something negative. Or death. People just don't talk about it. I took the approach I take when I'm at work. If I'm selling a book, I sell a book I LIKE and ignore the ones I didn't.

    IT's hard to do. I get some flack for not using a rating system and for not posting bad reviews. But ultimately, I didn't set out to be a blogger. I didn't set out to write reviews. I DID set out to write. AND I do. That's way more important to me. I want to be a person of integrity so authors/publishers/agents will WANT to be around me. part of that is by not posting negative reviews.

  12. I enjoy both reading and writing... I could see how book reviews can hurt working relationships... that's why I don't review books from people I know (because I'd just give them all 5's)... but I do sometimes help friends promote a book... I don't have a problem doing that... because I want them to succeed.

  13. Well, I'm thinking that all writers are readers. You can't be a writer if you don't read, right? I like to keep my reviews of someone's work private through critiques. I decided that I would never review books publicly but I will recommend the books I truly love. Great post, Cass, and I think you've made a great decision. :D

  14. I agree overall Cass... publicly I'm not a reader. But PRIVATELY I am.

    Great post!!

  15. Wow, this is an interesting perspective. I'm just curious - did you delete your goodreads account completely or do you still give stars to the books you read?