This post is a long time coming. So brace yourself for a long read… Like most authors, I am an avid reader, always have been. Even now, I consider myself a reader first and an author second. However, when I made the choice to become a writer, I also made the choice to enter what I called “review neutrality”.
Prior to becoming an author, I used to enjoy writing book reviews. At that time, I considered it a service to fellow readers. I admit that I never really thought of it as a benefit to authors on any level. Frankly I didn’t consider the authors’ feelings at all. I approached the task with a certain level of detachment (with the occasional snark). A book’s pros and cons were listed with no worry of someone’s feelings.
This, I still believe is the only way to write an honest review. If I was bullied or berated for my opinion, I let it roll off my back, and even pitied those who didn’t understand the difference between an honest review of a book and an attack on an author.
That brings me back to my period of “review neutrality”. Why did I make this decision if I believed so strongly in an honest review? The answer lies in the basic fact that people can basically go bat-shit crazy and I learned quickly, that in the world of writing and publishing, guano madness can spread pretty quickly.
I’ve spent all of my adult life, immersed in research or data analysis of some kind. So it should be no surprise that when I decided to become a writer I spent months researching and observing authors and their online behaviors. What I learned and witnessed was both surprising and disappointing.
Reviewers, authors, readers and even publishers continually had (and still have) moments of what I can only label as insanity. Common sense and basic respect for each other, often got thrown out the window, in favor of wallowing in personal feelings and insecurities. In these moments, the internet would explode and emit virtual shrapnel in all directions, leaving most people involved bloodied, while those who observed from a distance were stunned into either silence or repulsion.
I often say that the only drama I like is in books or television. So to avoid being part of any drama, or the casualty of any, I chose to give up reviewing altogether. I didn’t give up promoting books I loved, but I did stop analyzing them in public.
That position has now changed.
From the moment I took over management of Romance Novels in Color I knew I would have to change my neutral stance. This blog isn’t a place where authors are meant to feel safe. It is meant as a place for book lovers to discuss books. Period. This inherently means that one reviewer may love a book while another may dislike a book. It’s possible they could even loathe a book. But, as long as their review is done in a professional manner and only the aspects of the book are discussed, it is valid.
As a reader, those are the types of reviews I like to read and as an author those are the types of reviews that help me grow the most. I technically have the option to not review a single book at RNIC, but the more I stared at our mission statement, the more I realized that wasn’t an option.
We’re romance lovers who advance the awareness and appreciation of diversity in romance novels.
If I want to be true to this mission, I need to also give my honest opinion of the books I read that fit the above description. There are some amazing books out there, and there are also some pretty horrible ones. Both categories deserve an honest review. I think that helps to advance awareness and appreciation, not good reviews for the sake of sparing a person’s feelings.
Our review policy is and always has been pretty straight forward. Submitting a book for review doesn’t guarantee a review. RNIC agreeing to review a book doesn’t mean the review will be favorable. Internally, for any staff members who are authors, we have a rule that their books will not be reviewed on the site to avoid any accusations of a favorable review based on affiliation.
My reviewing hat is back on and I’m excited. I have a ridiculous pile of books that I’ve been itching to review. I will of course have some basic ground rules. They include our review policy with the addition, that if ever I feel I can’t give an honest review, that I either decline to write a review or re-assign the book review to another RNIC reviewer.
Basically, this incredibly long post is meant to announce, that I’m back in the game! 😉