Authors & Reviews


With the advent of on-line publishing, more and more people are turning out more and more literature. Some of it is quite good. Some of it is quite bad. More and more people are self-publishing. Self-publishing is not, in and of itself, a bad thing. I used the self-publishing company Lulu for my first three novels – “Winter’s Rite“, “Well Wishes“, and “Gauntlet“. Those books are still available on the site in paperback, and e-book editions. I’ve learned a huge amount about writing, editing, and publishing since writing those books. I’m sure anyone who has read them, and read my more recent work will see that. Writing is an ongoing learning process. But, that’s a post for another time. For this post I want to focus, briefly, on book reviews.

Given the rate at which new material is now being published, many people find it overwhelming. They turn to book reviews to tell them what to read. And what not to read. On a professional level, as a bestselling, award-winning author, I fully understand the need for book reviews in today’s market. They can be a powerful tool for book sales.

On the other hand, they can be just as powerful of a tool for damaging an author’s career in the wrong hands. Many authors are experiencing this. Someone has a personal grudge against them. What do they do? They leave horrid, scathing reviews of that author’s work anywhere they can. People see those reviews, and shy away from that author’s work due to them.

Another problem is people who are simply bad reviewers. I’ve run into this personally several times. People review a book, then leave poorly-written reviews, rife with spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors as reviews. A lot of people equate these poorly-written reviews directly with the author. They think that if the person who left the review writes so badly, then so must the author. And they shy away from the author’s work. Then there are also the book reviewers who will argue with other reviewers in their review of a book. That’s one of the most unprofessional things a reviewer can do. But it happens all the time. Again, I’ve seen it in reviews of my own work. Here again, even if the reviewer is leaving a good review, such unprofessionalism can actually hurt the author’s sales. Potential readers see reviews like that, and equate that unprofessionalism with the author, despite the author having had nothing at all to do with the review.

What it comes down to is that readers need to decide for themselves what to read. Please don’t let book reviews make the choice for you. If you’re curious about a book, please read it. It doesn’t matter if someone who reviewed the book didn’t like it, or why. You might love that book. Not everyone likes the same thing. Maybe the person who wrote the bad review simply didn’t like that type of book. If that’s the case, they should’ve have read and reviewed it to begin with. But they did. Again, that’s another ongoing problem with book reviewers. Make your own choices. Read what you want to read, no matter what other people are saying about a given book. You’ll be helping yourself, and you’ll be helping the author of that book.

Scott Harper

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