When you review someone’s book – whether it be on your blog, in your publication, for a newspaper, on Amazon.com, on a book based social network, or elsewhere – please know that your words are very powerful. They are full of meaning and wisdom and can impact whether or not people buy that book and, as such, they can impact the livelihoods of many, many people.
Please understand that I am not talking about positive or negative reviews. I am also not talking about worrying what people think or worrying about affecting others in a negative way, at the expense of your own honestly. What I am talking about is treating your words with the respect they deserve for the power that they wield. Your words matter – a lot.
This doesn’t just apply to books, but I’m an author, so I’m going to tackle it from that angle. A bunch of people invested their time and efforts to put “Managing Online Forums” together. Beyond me, there was my agent, editors, those who contributed to the work and other creative people inside and outside of the publisher. My hope for the book was that my knowledge would help others. It is both the simplest and the biggest goal you can have. My success in achieving this is judged not through my beliefs, but by what others tell me, after they have read the book.
I am been truly blessed as my book has been very well received by people from all walks and all experience levels. I am deeply thankful for this. Reading reviews for me is a mix of nerves, joy, disappointment, enlightenment and consideration. I take a deep breath and I start. I did this on the first review and I did it on the fiftieth review. Those nerves never quite go away. Not all reviews have been completely positive and I read and accept them and try to learn what I can from them and to help those who didn’t get what they wanted out of the book, to the best of my ability.
There have been a couple of instances, though, where I’ve seen people review the book in a way I felt was unfair. One of these popped up a little while ago. For example, in the review I read, the reviewer gave the book a very poor rating and made a statement that was inaccurate about it’s contents. And then the reviewer admitted to not even reading a single chapter. Not one. In the review! This is a part of life and I accept that. I’ll survive. No big deal.
But, this is an example of what I mean. Through the internet and social media, this person’s words are so powerful and yet, she wrote a review without even reading one chapter. She did not take the responsibility of her words seriously and I feel as though everyone is shortchanged because of it. We (myself, the team that worked on the book and those who read reviews, looking for insight when making a purchasing decision) are shortchanged because we do not receive the benefit or the respect of a review written with actual consideration of the work.
As an author, all I want is your honesty. Whether you like my work or you don’t – your honesty means a lot to me. Your words should mean a lot to you. And so I ask you to please be aware of your power. Too many people think “oh, it’s just a review online, who cares.” That’s not true and that’s not an accurate assessment of the power that we all share, a power that affects the lives of others and a power that we all must treat responsibly.
When reviewing a book, please read it, rather than scanning a few pages and making a judgment. Carefully consider it and judge it not on a typo or two, not on whether or not you disagreed with it or because you don’t like the author, but on whether or not it created value for you and made you think. Value is the measurement.
Please don’t halfheartedly post your thoughts about a book when you have not read it and considered it. There are people out there who love to play games with online review systems, to skew them or cause chaos. That’s not going to change. What I am saying is that, if you care about social media or the legitimacy of writing in general or, at the very least, if you want to be taken seriously, you should take your words seriously. Your words are very important and this is not a game. Please wield this great power responsibly.