Authors: Reviewing Each Other’s Books – Have you read my work yet?

Today on the ‘This Is My Truth Now’ blog, I’m posing a few questions to readers, fans, authors, and followers:

  1. Authors: Have you read and reviewed one of my books?
  2. Everyone: How do you feel about authors reading and reviewing each other’s work?

These are two questions which have been on my mind a lot lately. It’s a controversial topic, but I’m hoping to make it much simpler today.

AUTHORS: Have You Read and Reviewed One of My Books?

I ask this question specifically to authors because I want to be sure I’ve acknowledged and thanked any author who has taken the time to read and review one or more of my books. As a writer, part of my job is to see what other people think of my books. I check Goodreads, Amazon, BookBub, blogs, and social media daily to see any new reviews from any type of reader. If I’ve received a positive review, I always “like” it on the tool where the review was published. I rarely comment unless it’s on a blog post, as that’s more interactive to me. If I’ve received a bad review, I will cry. Okay, that’s not true… but it will make my day a bit worse. And I won’t like it. I’d rather the negative reviewer have an open mind and message me to discuss what they didn’t like.

ACTION ITEM: If there is an author who has reviewed my work, I would like to return the kind gesture. I generally use Goodreads to find reviews from authors, then pick one of his or her books to read and review within the next month. I can’t search every site or tool, so that’s what I use as my starting point to check for them. As of August 31st, I believe I’ve located all the reviews (not just those with a rating) and reciprocated by reading some of that author’s books too. If you’re an author, and you’ve reviewed my book, and I haven’t acknowledged it or reviewed one of yours, please let me know by responding to this post or privately. It’s accidental, and I want to be sure we’re supporting one another. Let me know, and I’ll correct it.

If you are an author and you want to exchange reviews in the future, we can definitely chat about the option. Once I’m caught up, I’ll figure out a schedule with you for the future. I definitely can’t open myself up to a lot of these, but if it’s the right genre, I’ll do my best once we establish an online relationship. That said… I am hoping to have a smaller TBR by end of 2019, so that I start the new year with room for more authors and books. My current goal is to get current with my favorite authors, series, and colleagues at my publishing house, Next Chapter, then I can look at other options.

***

Everyone: How do you feel about authors reading and reviewing each other’s work?

Some people think this is unfair or biased. Others think it’s acceptable. Amazon doesn’t like to see it. So many opinions… so much frustration. Rather than debate the powers controlling these things, I ignore them. In the last 4 years, I’ve posted ~900 reviews on multiple sites (Amazon, BookBub, Goodreads, my blog). If I’m reviewing an author who has reviewed my work, I will publish the review on Amazon under a different name. I’m not being sneaky. I would’ve read the book anyway. I stand by my feedback, ratings, and content. I CHOOSE what I want to read, and no one can tell me otherwise. But, in order to properly post the review, other methods are sometimes necessary. Even so, I include constructive feedback just like I would for any book. So… my general opinion is… be happy, pick what you want to read, review what you read, support your fellow authors and writers.

What I don’t think is a good idea is reaching out to other authors regularly to say “let’s swap reviews on each other’s books.” I’ve never done that… I have on occasion suggested it to an online friend who is an author only when (s)he and I have been chatting for a while. My TBR is long enough that I don’t want to keep adding to it for random authors when I already know hundreds whose work I really want to read. So… the key for me is establishing a relationship, understanding the type of writing and style and voice of said author, and figuring out how to help one another market our books across various platforms. Hopefully, that’s a clear difference to anyone reading this post.

Supporting other authors is essential. I choose my reads generally in the following order: (1) My favorite authors, (2) Book series I enjoy, (3) Authors who are friends, (4) Authors from my publishing house, and (5) Debuts from indie authors who have been following me and interacting with me for a long time, so I see the value in establishing such a relationship. It’s all on the up-and-up, honest, and helpful. From there… I rely on my ability to associate only with similar folks who are genuine and like-minded.

***

How about you? I’d love input on both questions…

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are five books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, Mistaken Identity Crisis, and Haunted House Ghost. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

54 comments

  1. Authors must be readers first so I don’t have any problem with authors reviewing authors. I suppose the biggest issue is when authors decide to ‘exchange’ five star ratings without that being a true reflection of their opinion. Once the reviews are honest, I think it’s okay to review one another’s work.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Honestly, this whole controversy over who reads what is silly to me. You can’t be a (good) author if you don’t read, and what better way to support authors than by leaving Reviews? As long as everyone is honest. I guess if authors are swapping 5 star reviews in an untruthful way, that’s an issue…but apparently there’s all sorts of hate on book bloggers doing that for free books too. Lol. Everyone should just read for the love of reading and leave honest Reviews because it’s the right thing to do. 😁❤

    Liked by 4 people

    • We are of total like mind. People just need to relax and be kind but provide clarity when something might not be so good. Reviewers don’t have to publicly rake someone over if they didn’t like it. They can skip reviewing, write something short / simple without praising, etc.

      Hate on book bloggers is silly too, I agree. If you don’t want to read someone’s review, then ignore it! LOL Honesty is best, you are right. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t like authors reviewing other authors because it is always 5 stars where they praise the work even when the book is not up to the mark because they are too scared of getting the low rating for their own. And then I have seen authors giving other authors 1 star and saying writing is not up to the mark when I know that the writing is pretty good. So they come off as hypocrites or vicious. So I don’t read reviews by authors because I don’t think they are honest and I don’t want to spend my hard earned money on them. Authors write reviews for other authors. Period. There is no way I can judge their reviews to be honest. Especially the indie and upcoming authors. I have had a couple of experiences.

    Jay, I also know there are authors who give honest reviews without worrying how their own books would be judged. But they are too few and I don’t know how to Guage them.

    Honestly, amazon should have verified author reviews so I know I don’t have to read them.
    Sorry this is nothing personal but I had to shut down by Facebook group because I didn’t give a 5 star review to the author. And all other authors told me that the book was fab and I did not know how to review a book… Ah well maybe I don’t.
    But I damn well know how to judge my happiness while reading a book 🙄😂😂
    Was this a long rant?

    Liked by 4 people

    • Did you know there’s a select group in the blogging community that thinks book bloggers are dishonest because we get free copies in exchange for reviews?

      😂😂😂😂

      I just read and review what I want to read and review. I’ll continue to do this after my book is released because I don’t want to miss out on being a book blogger just because I released my own book. 🤷‍♀️😂❤

      Liked by 2 people

    • It was a long rant, but that was the purpose of the post — to hear different opinions. Given the personal situation you went through, I can understand where you’re coming from.

      Ultimately, I think there are more fair than non-fair people. We just hear more about the non-fair ones, and it stings enough to make it feel like a larger issue. I haven’t really been through it myself. I do know the 2 or 3 times I really posted a bad review, I provided immense justification for it…. and the response comments were hateful toward me. It just goes to show some people are immature and unable to be open-minded. They just want everyone to agree with them.

      Thank you for feeling comfortable for sharing your opinion on this one. In some ways, I agree that an author should have to disclose it, but at the same time, if I am a construction worker, I don’t have to disclose that on websites that rate construction people. I suppose we should have clear / honest profiles, but if the reviews are fair, it shouldn’t matter.

      For authors I know, if I am waffling between and 3 and a 4, I’ll skew higher. I also tend to look at a book more subjectively in terms of what I’m comparing it to, so I often am an easier reviewer. To get a 1 or a 2 from me, it has to truly be unreadable. LOL

      It’s your review, you should always be able to say / do what you want, assuming it’s fair and not intended to harm (unless deserving!).

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Interesting. I’m not an author so it did not even occur to me that other authors might not be truthful in their reviews in exchange for good reviews of their own work. I would certainly not expect, or give, a good rating to another crafter if I didn’t like their work.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It probably does happen in all industries, you are right about that. It comes down to ‘why’ the person reviews. Because they love to read or they are looking for the counter review. Interesting share, thanks for pointing it out on other arenas too.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I was reading and writing reviews long before I ever even considered writing a book of my own. Just because I did that one thing, I won’t change the other and I ALWAYS provide an honest review of what I read. There is a difference between an exchange of reviews where there is the expectation of getting a positive review and reviewing another author’s work and being honest in your opinion. Sometimes it IS hard to write a review for another author’s work that you don’t like for whatever reason for fear of harsh feedback, but I also try hard to only review books that fall into a range I would normally pick up and enjoy. Doesn’t always happen. As long as a review is honest then I have zero problem with authors reviewing other authors.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Great to meet you, just followed too.

      Excellent correlation. We’re smart people, and we can handle two different jobs and still be successful. For me, when you don’t like something, it comes down to how you share the news. If you are trying to help promote an author, you can do other things besides review their book. If you didn’t care for it, you should tell the author, and then see what they want you to do. One author surprised me a year ago when I tried this approach. I offered to skip writing the review and promote the book rather than share my feedback because it was a personal taste matter. It wasn’t that it was THAT poorly written. In the end (s)he wanted me to write the review but asked that I just not blast them. That was the professional thing to do, in my opinion.

      Thanks for dropping by today.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sometimes it is a very fine line to walk. Before I published, I didn’t worry about reviews so much. I also didn’t fully understand how important they are. Now, I am careful about what I agree to review because I don’t want to have to say, “Sorry! I really didn’t like this” and end up hurting someone or making them angry.

        Thanks for the follow, btw! Much appreciated!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Authors have been reviewing authors since the beginning of time. Anthony Burgess (in)famously reviewed one of his own books written under a pseudonym. And before the advent of book bloggers, authors wrote book reviews for newspapers and magazines very often as a way to earn much needed income. Thinking about, and reviewing, other author’s books is also a useful method to think/learn about the craft of writing. I see no problem with it. There have always been shenanigans in the book world, well before the rise of the internet, reviews written out of spite or to praise an author unduly. There’s not much new under the sun. What has changed, I think, is the number of books being self-published. As someone who is self-published myself, I can see the temptation to get in touch with other self-published authors to buy each other’s books and exchange 5 star reviews. I don’t know for sure if this happens but I suspect that it does.Do I think it’s the end of the world? No, not really. I believe that there are books that do not get the recognition they deserve, but I also believe that quality will ultimately rise to the top. It just might take a little time. I don’t personal review books, aside from a couple of words occasionally on Goodreads. I just don’t think I’m very good at it. But I admire authors who do, and do it honestly and do it well. So, to conclude, is Jay to be considered EVIL for reviewing books? No, but he might well be for something else that he has done….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi. Great to e-meet / hear from you today.

      You’ve made several key points, thank you. This isn’t anything new… yet people react like it is (and that it’s the end of the world!). Opinions are real, and they need to be shared. It’s ‘how’ they are shared that matters. If you don’t like something, don’t try to make it a sarcastic ruthless tirade, just indicate why and move on. I definitely see some people trying to make names for themselves by being that “brutal reviewer” and I can’t help but think… you CHOOSE to act like this? Well, I CHOOSE not to associate with you. (Not directed at you… just at this type of reviewer)

      A good 15% of my reviews are for books from authors I’ve met in person or online. My review format has changed a few times over the years, but I always try to share the pros and cons of a book. When I say very little, it’s probably a good sign I didn’t LOVE it… or I’d be a floodgate or praise. Finding that happy medium is so important in sharing feedback and thoughts.

      I’m so glad you shared all this today, but I must ask… how did you find out what else I’ve done??!?! Oh no… and is it the same secret we’re both thinking of. LOL Just kidding… unless… what is it I’ve done? I think I forgot.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I don’t understand all the controversy. Everyone was obviously a reader long before they were an author or a book blogger. If you read a book, you should leave an honest review, no matter where or how you received your copy.

    A pet peeve for me is this whole controversy over leaving a review for a book received for free is so hypocritical. It unfairly targets independent authors. Big publishing houses have been giving out advance review copies for years. Why is it acceptable for them but not for the smaller publishing houses and authors?

    I understand as a book reviewer that I need to acknowledge receipt of the book in my review on Amazon. I do this and clearly state that the review is my honest, unbiased opinion. However, I also check to see if the book is available on Kindle Unlimited or free during a promotion. I feel those methods of obtaining the book eliminate the “free” stigma.

    Thanks for providing me a forum to rant Jay.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great points, and thank you for stopping by. I agree, it shouldn’t be a controversy. I rarely bring it up, and honestly, the intent today was mostly to try to let other authors know if they’ve reviewed me, and I missed their work, it is accidental. Tell me and I’ll fix it! LOL

      You bring up a second major concern, one which I completely disagree (not with you but with the need to do it). Just because we get something for free doesn’t mean our opinion isn’t valid. We should NOT have to disclose it. Do we have to disclose a review we leave on a restaurant if we got a free item? No… it’s the person’s experience with the product end-to-end.

      Ultimately, I put the onus on the person wanting to buy the product. If that person reads 1 review that loves something, then buys it, and it was a bad product… oh well. Your fault. If you want to read product reviews before buying something, do your research. Read 20 reviews. Read both positive and negative. Read a little about that reviewer. Just because it’s a $5 or $25 book doesn’t mean it doesn’t need your research.

      Oops, now I’m ranting… but we’re on the exact same page! Glad to hear from you.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Fantastic post Jay. I think we’re all past kindergarten here. I don’t believe authors in our community are intentionally writing rave reviews, such as Amazon is claiming, because, after all, as authors who review, we put our own reputations on the line if we hype a book that isn’t worthy. I work very similar to you with my reviews. As an author, I know how reviews are gold to us, they help readers decide if they want to buy a book, and without enough reviews, certain advertising sites won’t even take us on even to pay for their ads if we don’t have enough star reviews, so yes, they are gold! My reading list is just as lengthy as the next author’s. I try to keep a balance by reading something from my usual favorite authors and reading an author friend’s book in between. I’ve never asked for reviews, but like you, my system is a give and take. I find other authors reading and reviewing my books in kind. If it weren’t for authors reading our books and reviewing to get the ball started on reviews, it would be even harder to get them. Also, I don’t write bad reviews. If I didn’t enjoy a book, I won’t review it period. And I have 2 more of your books on my Kindle to get to, in between giving my author friends a turn to read theirs too, I look forward to reading more from you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Past kindergarten… I’m so pleased you kicked your response off with that message. It’s true. Responsibility belongs to the person reading the review too, not just the reviewer. It’s my opinion whether I paid for it or not. Do people think we’d leave a glowing review for something we hated all the time? I’d be tired of reading bad books if that were the case. LOL

      Your reviews are always wonderful, and I often see the differences in what you like or don’t like. You do it well. I agree with you on bad reviews. My goal is not to hurt someone. I don’t write reviews for other people. I keep track of what I read, and share what I like. Readers can follow or ignore me. LOL

      Thanks for this lovely balance of a reply. I appreciate it.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. I think it’s a wonderful learning tool when authors review other authors. However, it can be tricky when reviewing a book that is not in your preferred genre. We are all human and tend to give a higher rating when reading something in our favorite genre.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good point. Reviews are subjective, and a rating can be misleading. Just because I give a 5 star to a cozy and 4 star to a famous traditional novel I really enjoyed doesn’t mean one is better than the other.

      Ratings are personal. Some reviewers rate against all books, some against those in the genre. Often, it’s how you feel about a certain aspect of the book which increases or decreases your total rating. Or you might be comparing it the author’s other books.

      Ratings and reviews are meant to be taken as a collective. All 5 stars, it’s probably a good book. If there are only 5 reviews, it’s too early to tell. 4 stars with 10K reviews means most people really liked it, so does that mean it’s better than a 5 star with only a handful? Lots to think about!

      Thanks for sharing and making us think even more.

      Like

  10. I am not an author but I find it interesting to read authors reviewing other authors. I like he idea of getting a review from another author and seeing how they found the book compared with a professional critic or reviewer from the NYT or some other print journal.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. […] Head over and chat to James about reviewing each other’s work and also if you have reviewed one of James’s books, he would like to return the favour.. so opportunites for everyone.: https://thisismytruthnow.com/2019/09/03/authors-reviewing-each-others-books-have-you-read-my-work-ye… […]

    Liked by 1 person

  12. In my limited experience, Jay, there are not that many people who are not authors or related to an author in some way, that actually post reviews. Lots of people have bought and read my books but it is generally other bloggers and authors who post the necessary reviews, largely, I think because writers realise the value of reviews while other people don’t. I never posted a review ever before I started blogging and I have been a massive reader my whole life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi. Thanks for weighing in. You make an excellent point. A majority of my reviews do come from other authors, at least in terms of those that leave an actual review. Ratings are often from others that I’ve never met or interacted with… but I think we as writers understand the value of a review, so it makes sense. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Like Robbie I have always been a reader…but since dipping my toes into the world of blogging and authors I do write the occasional review….I don’t think I am good at it but I talk from my heart…I do however tend not to review if I really don’t enjoy the read…Interesting subject and responses…I haven’t read any of yours Jay..no particular reason just my TBR list is huge and often goes by the by for a must-read 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I think it’s amazing that authors take the time to read other author’s books. As long as there is an interest in the book, it shouldn’t matter who reads it. But what’s great about other authors reading your book is that they understand the effort and process unlike readers that aren’t writers. I haven’t read any of your books Jay, but I do own at three of them and I really do need to read them.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Hi James, I read an eclectic mix of books each month. Some are indie and others traditionally published. I do read my friends’ books first in the order of purchase. Here is my blog so you can see my recent books read. I began this segment of books read in each month in January of 2019.

    I enjoyed this post and will follow and check out your books for my future TBR reads.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. This is a great discussion post, and thanks for sharing your opinion. As others have said, I have been a life-long reader. It wasn’t until college, when I was assigned to create a blog for my Computer-Mediated Communication class, that I started writing reviews. That first blog was for movies people had never heard of. As I created Hot Shot Headlines, I knew I wanted to do book reviews as part of it, but only started posting them a few years ago. Now that I have more than 75 reviews posted, I’ve become a better reader, and tried to pay more attention to certain details of the books I read. I’ve found that I’ve started to really enjoy reading ARCs, and I hope to do more of that in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Hi jay, I’m a little late to the discussion here but it’s such a good one, I had to weigh in. Although I’ve had a passion for reading since I was a child, I did not begin writing reviews until I joined GoodReads in late 2012. It is a wonderful way to keep track of books you love and why you loved them. I’m an Indie author and I don’t think that invalidates my book reviews in the least.

    In fact, most of us regular folks were not able to review books they’ve spent their hard earned money on until the social platforms came along. Only pro reviewers, journalists and other authors would be able to share their reviews in newspapers and magazines. So, I think it’s still quite novel to have our own ‘place’ (whether that’s a blog or a social platform) to share our thoughts and even critical thinking on books.

    As writers, actually crafting a book review in a few paragraphs is an art form. It’s a form of practicing our writing skills. I like your style, Jay, as I read some of your book reviews on Goodreads. Looking forward to delving into Watching Glass Shatter.

    Liked by 1 person

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