It seems lately that there’s a growing list of things that authors should either do or not do. Sometimes, there is contradictory advice on the same subject.
That’s pretty much the way I feel about the whole YAMafia brouhaha and the question of whether authors should/should not be reviewers. To me, it honestly seems as if someone is going to be offended no matter what advice is preached on this subject.
I want to state categorically that I don’t have any objection to authors or aspiring authors reviewing books. Writers are readers, too, and as readers, they’re 100% entitled to have their opinions of books and to share them.
Personally, I have no objection to an author I consider a friend reviewing any of my books, whether positively or negatively. If someone writes a negative review of my book, I am not going to refuse to do that author a favor in the future nor am I going to give him/her the cold shoulder if we meet at a conference.
By the same token, however, I don’t review books myself except in a very limited set of circumstances and then only if I can express genuine love for a book. I don’t write negative/highly critical reviews of books, not because I’m afraid I’ll be blackballed in the industry but because I value my relationships with my writer friends (and in the romance community, you’re either already my friend or there’s a good chance you may become my friend) more than I think the world will value my opinion of their books.
Books are important, yes. But people are more important.
So my advice is simply this: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you’re an author/aspiring author and you write reviews, I support your decision 100%. Just ask yourself when posting a negative review–if this were MY book, how would I feel about this review? Would I find it critical but fair or truly hurtful (and yes, I do believe there’s a difference)? If you can’t answer “critical but fair” then consider not posting it or at least revising it until you can.
And that is my final word on the subject (at least until the next time it causes an internet kerfuffle).