Saturday, November 15, 2008

It's Faith N' Fiction Saturday's with Amy. Here is the question this week.
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 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)

Here is my answer: Yes, I receive Christian books to review, however I read and review secular books as well. My blog is to edify and glorify Christ first and foremost. I don't care whether the book is labeled Christian or from the secular market if the book doesn't glorify Christ I will say so. I'm not here to stroke an author's ego and if that is what they are looking for then they're in the wrong business. I see my job as an book reviewer to tell the truth, no matter how much the truth may not be what the author, or publishing house may not be what they want to hear. My commitment is first to God, then to myself, because I will be held accountable for what I say, and thirdly to my readers who trust what I say about the books I review. My review is based on a lot of different elements, how believable are the characters, does the story flow, is the spiritual content Biblical, there are a lot of factors. In one book I recently reviewed the author didn't bring the main character through a salvation experience it was just talked about, and after all of the foul language that was in that book, there should've been an actual spiritual experience. In another book, there was so much theologically wrong with the book, I couldn't stomach it! And while I haven't had a negative experience from an author when I've given a negative review, I have experienced feedback from other authors in defense of their own writing.
I believe it is my job to give an honest review, if I didn't like the book for whatever reason, then I believe I should say so. I'm not meaning to intentionally hurt the author's feelings, I'm critiquing the work. The longer you do this, you get to know the authors and they become friends, and it's no longer a name on a book cover, but someone you know. I seriously do my best to give an honest opinion about the book and I never want to hurt anyone's feelings.


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You're right that there are so many things to consider when writing the review. It's good we can be honest without being mean about it too.

(btw, I like the new blog look!)

I know. It is so hard to sometimes give a negative review of an author that you personally talk with.

At the same time, I really want people to be honest when they review my book in August!

With so many points to cover, I can usually find some good to soften a bad review. Actually, my bad reviews are not the wounding kind of bad. Happy FiF Day!

I think as a reviewer you have to keep the readers in mind like you do, because you don't want to lead someone to a book if you really didn't enjoy it. And also to an author, if a story isn't working you want to be honest so they can grow. Great job!

Wonderful post - I sometimes wonder what authors are doing when they stretch the theology too far from what I know as truth - some things shouldn't be changed.

:) Wendi

I've got mine up late . . .
is my Faith 'n Fiction Saturday post.

:) Thanks for stopping by my post!! Let me clarify that Amy and I were thinking of starting a Code of Ethics not to judge anyone at all - you are right - God is the only one who can pass judgement. Rather, we thought some bloggers may like to support a blogger's freedom of speech in a way. When I first started reviewing, I sat on a negative review for about a week prior to editing it to change the harsh words into constructive criticism because I felt so aweful. If I had read a code of ethics that encouraged posting my real reactions, I probably would have still changed a few things in my post, but would have felt empowered to do so, and that I was doing the right thing.

:) Thanks for your input!

Take care ~ Wendi

:o) Wonderful thoughts. Honesty truly is so important as a Christian...and I like that you review Christian and secular and can still glorify our God...some people would disagree with that but what you are doing is fabulous!


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