I’m not sure why, but I receive quite a few book review requests. Maybe I have that “I review books” look about me. Or, maybe folks think that any gal who used to be nicknamed Tanutsi is too genial to pen a negative book review. Whatever the case, I generally don’t respond to the requests because they’re not personalized. Note to book spammers: If you’re going to take the time to reach out to me about reviewing your book, at least write Dear Quanie!
Note to other spammers: I don’t care if your great uncle left you 25 million dollars and an offshore oil rig and for some reason you’d like to bequeath it all to me, a total stranger: I will not give you my bank account information. I repeat: I will not give you my bank account information.
But I digress.
Anyhoo, the main reason I don’t review books is because of what happened to me a couple of years ago. I won’t name names (I never do!) but an author reached out to me about reviewing her book, and without knowing anything about her writing or the genre of the novel, I said yes. Below is the sequence of events that followed:
Author sends Quanie book. Quanie reads first page. Quanie faceplants.
I felt a sense of dread as the realization hit me: if I review this book I’m either going to have to:
Write a negative review and risk ruining a relationship (because let’s face it: it’s one thing if a stranger calls your baby ugly but if a friend does it? Them’s fightin’ words).
Lie to spare the author’s feelings and write a review that’s untruthful. Never good!
Pretend I never got the book review request and act completely befuddled when the author asks me about it. “Really? You sent me a book review request? Hunh. You know, my email’s been acting kind of wonky lately and maybe that’s why I never got it…”
I ended up contacting the author to let her know that, for certain reasons, I was not going to be able to review her book. Now, I know what you’re thinking: But, Quanie! She asked you for a review. You should have read it and gave your honest opinion. Reviews aren’t for the author anyway. They’re for readers!”
But I’m a big softie, ya’ll. And if I know in my heart that I won’t be able to give a book at least three stars, I’d rather not review it than leave a negative review. I just don’t like hurting people’s feelings.
Now that I’m independently publishing my own books, I think about that situation. If an author buddy of mine reads one of my books and expresses that they enjoyed it, I’ll ask them to leave a review, sure. But otherwise, I never solicit friends for reviews. Never. Even if they have a tee shirt that reads, “I will read your book and leave a 5 star review even if I don’t like it!” Never ever never. Why not? Because there’s a good that my friends would rather pour habanero juice in their eyes than read my books. So I tread very carefully.
What about others? What would you do if a fellow author asked you to review their book and it turns out you didn’t like it? Would you feel bad leaving a “negative” review? Would you decline to review it??? I’d love to hear your thoughts!