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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Reviewing the Reviewers

Reviewers review books, but who reviews the reviewers?

Lots of people, it turns out!

Authors often take issue with reviews (something I do not recommend, unless there is an out-an-out error, something major, such as the book review refers to the wrong book!). It is understandable, that an author would want to comment on reviews, be they glowing or totally snarky. But the book has been put "out there" and reviews are part of the game.

Readers often comment on reviews, whether to agree or disagree, to praise or to chastise. People have different tastes and readers can be fiercely loyal to a book they like, or strongly opposed to a book they don't like, and some readers don't hesitate to challenge a review.

Sometimes reviewers respond to what are essentially reviews of their reviews. Some responses are thoughtful and measured, some are, well, not. Is it fair to "review" a review? It is someone's writing, after all.

But a review is not a story. It's an opinion. It might be an opinion with which one strongly disagrees (or wholeheartedly agrees), but, still, it is just an opinion.

My feeling is that as long as reviews of books or of reviewers are thoughtful and polite, okay. While it's fair to comment negatively, I don't think snarky, mean, backstabbing and/or nasty comments are okay. But that's just me. Others may enjoy a rousing give and take!

What do you think about "reviewing reviews?"


  1. I think you're right. There can be a review you don't much like, but it's not super offensive because it's written in a polite, thoughtful, honest way. I do not like reviews, or comments, that are written purely to spark controversy and perhaps instigate a debate. Criticism should come in sandwich form - something negative sandwiched between two positive things.

  2. Hi Ann,
    Great blog. Reviews are very subjective, and a reviewer who doesn't like the book is entitled to say so,after all they paid good money for the book. Unfortunately, some reviewers are so rude and beligerent and actually attack the author and the book, and that is wrong. If I read a book and I don't like it, I wouldn't leave a review, and I probably wouldn't buy any of that particular author's future offerings either.



  3. There has been a lot of angst about reviews lately among the writing community. I think it's important that reviews are to be helpful for readers not a bash session to the writer.

  4. I think authors need to be quiet about reviews of their own books. The only exception I can think of is if there's some major, major concrete factual error in the review. Reviews are in service of readers, not vent venue for the reviewer.

  5. No, no, no, no, no. Never. Readers have a right to their opinions. Books are meant to be subjective. I really don't read reviews of my books because I don't want to. My publisher sends me the really great ones and I read those. LOL

  6. I agree that authors should not respond to reviews (except to point out that the review does not refer to the correct book!), but I think other readers have a right to say that they agree with a review, or disagree, as long as they are polite and have something to add.

  7. I have to say never review the reviewers. BUT I do think many of reviewers reviews are based completely on mood or whims. As a teacher that would never fly for me to grade my student's writing papers like that. We have very detailed rubrics to follow and by doing that it really gives value to the review. Sometimes I have this terrible urge to give reviewers a rubric. One girl gave someone a 4 out of 10 which to me in the 'school' world would be a complete failure on an assignment. We all know that the 10 point system, 4 would be 40% and therefore a big fat F. But then she went on to say it wasn't bad, just not meaty enough for her.

    So I learned that you really need to take reviews with a grain of salt and just read what interests you.