Today Faith 'n Fiction Saturdays says:
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)
I do receive review copies of Christian books from a few different sources. I have never felt any kind of obligation to post a completely favorable review of any books I've been sent. But I'm not the kind of person to slam a book or author if I didn't care for what I read. Now, I haven't "hated" anything I've read (so far) but there are some I didn't enjoy as much as others.
I always review them honestly and feel that the point of reviewing a book is to tell what I thought of it. If I were to say I loved every single book, people wouldn't believe me (for good reason!) and wouldn't trust my reviews. Then they would stop reading them. I want to be able to point people to the books they will enjoy and not just give a glossy review to everything.
Instead of bashing a book I try to include what I did and didn't like about it and why. I won't just say what I didn't like; I can always find something positive to add as well. I also know that even though I didn't enjoy it as much, other people may love it so I don't want to give a bad image when really it's just a matter of taste. In those cases I try to say something to the effect of "if you enjoy ____ then you'll like this book."
The spiritual content of the book isn't so much a factor for me (adding: of course as long as it's Scripturally sound). I review based on the entire work. However, I don't care for "preachy" books and if it feels preachy I will state that in my review.
I've never had a negative experience with an author after giving a less-than-glowing review. The only comments authors have left me have been positive (or neutral) ones. I can completely understand pouring yourself into your work and then feeling bummed by a negative review, but I appreciate authors who stay professional in their response.
Check out Faith 'n Fiction Saturdays for more responses to this question! Feel free to join in on the fun and post your response on your blog. Be sure to add your link to the Mr. Linky on Amy's post.