Writers Reviewing: An Ethical Dilemma

Books by Porsche Brosseau
Books by Porsche Brosseau

Like most authors, I read relentlessly. At last count, I average about three books a week. Like most of my brethren, I’m always looking for ways to push myself and write regularly. As a result, I’ve begun to write book reviews, but I keep running up against an ethical concern. Is it ethical for me to write book reviews when I also write books that compete with what I’m reading?

Let’s narrow this down a bit, because in no way am I saying that writers should never write a book review of any kind, but should we write reviews of books in the genre in which we publish? I mean, can I truly say that my review are 100% objective when the book I’m reviewing competes directly against my own work?

I think credibility suffers in that instance. Let’s say I read a book that just doesn’t resonate with me for one reason or another. Happens all the time. But, let’s say I write a detailed, negative review of said book. The moment it’s made clear that I write books in the same genre, I think my credibility is instantly derailed. Can I be taken seriously at that point?

My gut says no.

When I come across negative reviews of books that are written by reviewers who also write in that genre, I don’t take them seriously. It seems as if they are trying to tip the scales in favor of their own work. Whether they actually are or not, that is how it seems.

But, what do you do when your writing crosses genres? For instance, I write in romance, erotica, and contemporary fiction. That would severely limit my reviewing range and place an undue burden on my writing partner.

After much brain twisting on the subject, I came up with this solution … I will not post a review of a book in any genre in which I write that is less than three stars. If I don’t like it, I simply will not post a bad review. Recommending a book I like can never come back to haunt me.

At the very least, my conscience can live with this.

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