Sunday, November 16, 2008

Faith 'n Fiction Saturday

The past couple of days there has been a big flare-up in the broader book blogging community regarding review policies and a blogger's obligation to an author once they've received a review copy. For those of you who belong to the blogging alliance FIRST, we've also discussed this issue a little bit.

I decided to make today's question about this, because I think this is an even tougher situation for Christian reviewers who review Christian books. So here goes...do you receive review copies of Christian books? If so, do you review them honestly? How do you handle it when you don't like a book but are obligated to provide a review? Who do you see your first commitment being to in book reviewing (besides God)? Yourself? The author? Your readers? Does your review change based on the spiritual content of the book or is it solely based on technical or artistic merit? Have you ever had a negative experience with an author after giving them a negative review? (please don't name names)

When I first became a blogger, I did it specifically to review books. One of my big first questions was exactly this. I knew I wouldn't like every book I read so how was I going to handle it. I sent the question out to the ACFW Yahoo Group to get answers from bloggers and authors. They all suggested finding something positive in the book. Whether I find the positive in the message, the writing, part of the story, find something.

Personally I feel that I have several obligations. If an author personally sends me the book because I've requested it, I ask them what they want me to do if I don't care for the book. They prefer that I not do the review. I'm ok with that. So far, there's only been one book that I've received from an author that I wondered if I would even do a review. I ended up doing the review because I was able to find some positive parts to it.

If a publisher has sent me a book, I don't feel a huge obligation to them because it's not as personal since they didn't write it. I do think I should do my best to read the book, even if it's not my kind of book. Of course, I try to do everyone a favor and request books that are in the genres I like. I seriously doubt you will ever see a horror review on my blog. So far, I haven't found any books that I couldn't finish because I didn't like it. Some books don't grab my complete attention, even though it's a good book. There haven't been any books sent by publishers that I've hated either. For that I'm thankful. I don't know how I'd write a review. I have to realize that not everyone shares my taste in books and keep that in mind when I review. The book will probably appeal to a different group of readers. Again, I find what positive I can.

In regards to the reader I do feel an obligation to make sure my review isn't going to have them purchasing a book they aren't going to like. With the economy the way it is, we shouldn't be glossing over books, making them sound appealing and having readers be disappointed after the purchase. I will let them know if a book isn't my type of book so that I've qualified my review. I will then go on to tell the reader what I did like about the book. If there's anything offensive (in my opinion) then I will warn the reader. That I find is a huge obligation as a Christian reviewer. If I'm reading a book that dives into magic, adds some sensuality, or is more violent than what we'd normally read, then I absolutely want the readers to know about it. For example, Stephen Baldwin's new book is being reviewed by a lot of Christian reviewers but there's a lot of swearing from what I've seen on their blogs. I appreciate them letting me know so I'm forwarned before I try to either win it, buy it, or find it at my library.

I guess I don't feel like I have any obligation to myself other than writing honestly. As long as I write what I believe to be truthful, then I have done my job. I am supremely thankful to the authors and publishers for trusting me with their books. With each book they send me, I pray that my review will in some way increase their sales. I hope that my reviews will introduce readers to new authors and the authors will have some new followers. And best of all, being a book blogger allows me the opportunity to give away books for free. What could be better than that?

3 comments:

Wendi B. - Wendi's Book Corner ~ Rainy Day Reading in Seattle said...

Great post! I too had more questions about reviewing when I first started.

:) Wendi

Pam said...

That was one of my concerns when I began reviewing. I wanted to write an honese review, but not one that was "bashing."
I appreciate how everyone has said that honesty is their main concern.

Kim said...

I reviewed Same Kind of Different as Me over on my blog. It was AMAZING!!

http://berlysue.blogspot.com/2008/10/same-kind-of-different-as-me-by-ron.html

Kim

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