Why I Don’t Write Book Reviews

I have over 300 books read on Goodreads. I haven’t left ratings on any of them.

I don’t write reviews on any retailer site. Even when Laterpress has review functionality, I won’t be leaving reviews.

But Nate, don’t you know positive reviews are huge for authors, especially indies? Don’t you want to help your fellow authors out?

Yes, but not that way. Plenty of others who can provide that kind of help.

The reason I won’t do reviews boils down to this: the potential for drama and hurt feelings.

If I’m going to review something, I’m going to be honest about it. Nobody would take me seriously just handing 5* reviews to everything, and I’m not going to put my name to a good review for a book I didn’t like. If I only reviewed books I really think are 5* material, that could still create drama. “He read my book but didn’t review it. Does that mean he hated it?” It’s just easier to have a clean “I don’t review” policy.

I’m now a public personality in two different ways. First, as an author. Second, as the Community Lead for Laterpress.

If you knew I give your book a 2* rating, how enthusiastic would you be working with me on some future project, or promoting my writing to your readers? Could an author who feels wronged / slighted by my critical review seek revenge by orchestrating a review bombing campaign against me in the future?

If I give your book a 2* rating, would that taint our relationship if I were to talk with you about making your books available through Laterpress? Would you think I’d give you less support if you experienced any issue and needed assistance?

Now, I’m not a robot. I will take to Twitter and Discord, for example, to shout out things I like. I’ve been vocal before in my enjoyment of Sigils & Sushi and The Stars and Green Magics, for example. (Both are $10,000 contest winners, so you’re damn right they’re good!) But those kinds of shout-outs are not the same thing as a score on a retailer’s site, where people are making purchasing decisions.

Shout-outs = OK. I may even tell you I think you should buy a specific book sometimes!

Formal reviews = Not OK

I try to cultivate the understanding that I’ll talk about things I enjoy from time to time, but I don’t want my lack of comment on a book I’ve read to be interpreted as meaning I didn’t like it. Don’t assume that! If I actually rated things, my universal average would probably be somewhere between 3* and 4*. I can be a tough critic, but I enjoy what I’ve read far more often than not. I just consider writing reviews an unnecessary no-win scenario, best left avoided.

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