Well that sparked me to want to write about it. But before I go into my thoughts on the matter, I am posting this DISCLAIMER: I am not bashing anyone. I am in no way trying to offend anyone. If your views are different, if your thoughts are different, that is OKAY. I respect that. I really do. And I would LOVE if you commented your thoughts on the matter. I would love to discuss the pros and cons. I would love to talk about it. Please, please, please, do not take offense. Do not think I am trying to bash your opinion.
The story behind the opinion:
Seven years ago in August, a very wonderful friend invited me to an author group. A group of woman decided to create a workshop for young girls (I was 13) to go and learn how to write stories. I LOVED the idea. But with being home-schooled and working for my family owned business an hour away, there wasn't anyway it would work with my families schedule. So I didn't bother asking for permission to go.
My friend told one of the woman that I would ask my parents but didn't think it would work out. That woman was Karen Hoover. She didn't shrug it off, she didn't wait to hear back from me. She didn't say "That's okay, we have plenty of other girls who plan on coming!" She didn't take no for an answer. Instead, she took matters into her own hands. She called my mom without me knowing and arranged for me to come to those meetings, for me to be a part of that group.
I had never written anything, I was terrified. I didn't know what to expect. We had our meetings every Tuesday at the library. After the first meeting, I counted down the hours until I could go again. C Michelle Jefferies also helped start and teach that group. On days I couldn't find a ride or it was too hot to walk, she was right there, ready to drive me to those meetings. And always willing to give me a ride home.
Shanna Westover was the third woman I befriended. She helped start and teach the group. She knew what she was doing, as did Karen and Michelle. And she was one of my biggest cheer leaders. She would answer my questions no matter how annoying or obvious they were. She tutored me, guided me, and sent me on my way.
The day we had our last class, I cried. I wasn't ready to say goodbye to this amazing group. To the amazing woman who taught us how to be authors. How to create worlds. That last day they each gave us a copy of their books on a disc. We got to read those books long before they were published. Our parting was done with a gift.
How much did going cost me? How much did the woman ask to be paid in trade for their knowledge? Nothing more than we use what we learned. Nothing more than to keep at it and live our dreams. Not a penny was spent on my part. And these beautiful woman never complained.
Jump two years from that moment and I was staring down the Wilkinson Center at BYU. I was about to go to a real writer's conference. A place the professionals go. A place the published authors go. I didn't feel like I belonged. I was scared, alone, young, and had no idea what I was doing. But I knew that writing was my dream.
Two panels in and I ran into . . . Shanna. She was ecstatic to see me. She gave me a hug and asked me a hundred questions . . ."How's the conference? Who have you met? How many people have you introduced yourself to?" I was baffled. Introduce myself to published authors? Yeah right!
My reply to that question went something like "Ummm . . . no one." I will never forget her reaction. She leaned over, her face right in front of mine. With a finger pointed in the general direction of authors she said something like "You get out, you introduce yourself. You talk to authors, you get your name out there." The look on her face told me I had better listen. So I did.
I walked right in to a class, waited for the panel to end and with shaking hands, wobbly knees, and sweat beading on my forehead I introduced myself to the authors. I had no idea what I was doing. None. I was so scared. So nervous. So clueless. But I did as told. I went out there, I talked to authors, I told them my name. How much did introducing myself cost? Not a penny.
On to the next panel and I found myself trapped in the wrong room. I didn't know what to do, I was in the corner and people were in my way so I sat and I stayed. And I got to learn some amazing things from one of the coolest guys I know . . . Paul Genesse. He said something that kinda hit me that day. He said (and again, I paraphrase) "Authors help authors. The author up here, the published author helps the author below him. And that author in turn helps the author under him. And it goes on and on so that no matter what stage you're in, an author above you is helping you and you are helping the author below you." I will never forget that. I will never let that go. I believe that is how it should work in everything! Not just writing.
So, why do I tell you this very long story when we're supposed to be talking about reviews? Because from the very moment I began working my way into the author world, I have learned that AUTHORS HELP AUTHORS.
This isn't a competition. This isn't a race. This isn't a game of which author can make it big while another equally awesome author gets pushed to the sidelines. AUTHORS HELP AUTHORS.
So how does this relate to writing reviews for other books? Let me explain.
When you write a review and are honest in everything you say AND you do not bash, be harsh, or rude in anyway no matter how much you liked or disliked the book, you have told the world how you feel about that book. You have explained why you loved the book or disliked the book. And in turn, that helps someone else determine whether or not the book is for them.
You being an author, shouldn't make a difference in what you say in that review.
If you love the book, and people love your book, they are going to look into the book you just reviewed because CLEARLY you have the same taste. If you dislike a book, and make it clear as to WHY as well as post something to the affect of "It wasn't the book for me" then people know whether it sounds like they will like it or not. How does this help? Because say that person buys the book and you DIDN'T review it. And they hate it. And they're not an author. In most cases, they are going to go and shred that book to pieces in their review. They will be harsh, they will be mean, they will lower the books ranking. When in turn, you could have just reviewed it and helped everyone all around.
Now, I am not saying this is what everyone reviewer/reader is going to do. It is more of a worst case scenario. But my point still stands.
I will be a published author in September. And I have decided to continue reviewing books. If I can't give it 3 stars or more, I won't review it. 3 stars, IS a good review. And this is where the title of my post comes in.
Since when is 3 stars not good enough? That means that people liked the book! It's good! It means that it wasn't their favorite, it isn't their exact cup of hot chocolate. It means they enjoyed it and most likely plan on reading your next book. So why isn't 3 good enough for a book tour? Why aren't we happy with 3 stars when another author rates it that?
Four and Five stars ARE FANTASTIC! But so are 3 stars.
And to tie in the ratings with the decision to continue reviewing as an author, since when have authors become so greedy that they aren't willing to help another author? THIS ISN'T A COMPETITION. If it has become one, it shouldn't be! Making money is good, making a living from writing is amazing and my dream goal. But I don't want to make that dream come true only to find that I am alone at that end of the road because I couldn't stop and help other authors along the way. And that is exactly what a good review does.
I am an author. I support authors. I will review books for authors. If I don't enjoy the book, I will NOT post my review. If I do enjoy the book, there is no need to not share it with others. Reviewing books, sharing other books, advertising for other authors, doesn't damage my sales. It doesn't damage my ability to be successful.
One more thing. I do NOT believe in exchanging review for review. That is where the line ends. I think the idea is great, and can work if both authors write the same genres. But I think it really is a request for disaster!
So now I want to know what you think. What are you thoughts? Do you think Authors should be allowed to be Reviewers as well?