When my wonderful husband gave me an e-reader a few years ago, I discovered the varied and colorful world of electronic books and indie publishers, and this appetite for reading became even more voracious. Since I refuse to participate in pirating reading material (or anything else), all of a sudden, my favorite pastime became an expensive hobby.
It was the lure of free reading material that initially attracted me to reviewing for another website (i.e. not BookWenches). Writing for them was fun but not earth-shattering. While there wasn’t much demand placed on me except to review what I requested, the politics of the group irritated me like fingernails on a blackboard; therefore, it didn’t take much for my friend Teagan to convince me to branch out with her and build our own review site. So after my arm healed from my friend’s twisting, BookWenches was born, and the real fun began.
In the early days of BookWenches, we would write and post one or two reviews every day, seven days a week. I know…crazy, isn’t it? But as time went by, we added features to the website like guest blogs and interviews, backed off on quantity of reviews and focused on quality instead. Because let’s admit it, you can find a review that basically says “it was HAWT” or “it SUCKED” or “it RAWKED” just about anywhere. We decided to take the time to be just a touch more thoughtful and encourage the writers we enjoy while still providing feedback.
What do I love about reviewing? Yes, free books are part of it, but I also buy quite a bit of my reading material. It has brought authors and publishers to my attention that I may never have noticed on my own. And while this has resulted in some truly painful reading, the opposite is also true, and I have discovered quite a few new favorites. It has forced me to develop a writing routine and to follow it even when I don’t feel particularly talkative or creative. But I believe that my favorite aspect of this entire thing is the interaction that I have had with authors and publishers and even some readers. The pats on the back are great, of course – wonderful, in fact – but equally valuable are the knowledge and insight that I have gained and the friendships I have made.
Negative feedback is another drawback of writing reviews. As I previously mentioned, some folks won’t agree with us, even though we believe in putting a positive spin on what we have to say. (That is, if we have a negative, we think of a positive as well.) Some folks tend to think that the Internet gives them carte blanche to be as ugly as possible, and we have received a number of emails over the years that have taken our breath away. Of course, there’s a lot to be learned from negative feedback. I now proof and re-proof my reviews repeatedly, and if I’m not one hundred percent sure about the spelling or usage of a word or phrase, I look it up.
Finally, there is the sense of obligation that comes along with requesting a review copy of a book from a publisher. Although we try hard to review everything we ask for, there have been times that we just haven’t been able to get to some of them. Or the book was so very bad that we can’t find anything positive to say. Or we got distracted. Currently, I think I have about thirty titles on my Kindle that I feel an obligation to review. I don’t think I’ll ever catch up, and due to my over-developed sense of guilt, that drives me crazy.
I asked my fellow Wenches for their input on the pros and cons of reviewing, and I wanted to share their words with you as well. My bouncy, happy Teagan of the rose-tone glasses says that she loves reading, reading, reading, having the opportunity to “meet” authors, and being exposed to new genres, authors, and publishers. Her frustrations revolve around lack of quality in some books and being ignored by authors who specifically asked (begged, even) for a review.
Ever-thoughtful Clea has loved expanding her horizons and having the opportunity to read many new genres that she never would have picked up before. She also enjoys the responses she gets from authors about her reviews, saying “it often leaves me feeling giddy because I feel like I am making a small contribution to someone else’s life and dreams.”
“Writing reviews is a hobby for me,” Clea confides, “it is something that I enjoy doing because it's something that is all mine; I don't have to share with the hubby or kids. On a rare occasion, a writer will get overly possessive about their work and want to critique my review line by line and have full-on discussions about why I wrote something or try to give me ideas about what to say in my review, and that just makes me angry. It makes me want to stop writing my reviews because they're taking all the joy out of it for me. It makes me leery about writing my next review, because I am afraid I am going to get harassed again.”
Regardless of any quibbles on our part, my fellow Wenches and I adore what we do. Come visit us at www.bookwenches.com. Read a few reviews, comment on author interviews or guest blogs, and perhaps enter a book giveaway. We’d love to see you ‘round and hope that you enjoy your visit. If you see a book you’re interested in, go forth and purchase it and dive on in. Happy reading!