Being an author and a book reviewer

Dog writes a review: 'A sublime book, I devoured it in one sitting ...'

Can an author be both? “What a silly question!” you say. Well, yes, it is, except when one does both and has books listed with Amazon. Every once in a while it seems to occur to someone there that they will not accept reviews from authors, because authors know other authors and, because of that, will not give unbiased reviews. In short, if I know you and review your book, I’ll give it a smashingly good review because, well, you know, we’re friends, and so I’m biased. This may seem fair — after all, people that work for a corporation aren’t allowed to review their own products, so, it only seems logical that . . . and then the logic begins to break apart.

Do authors know other authors? Of course, and have for as long as there have been authors. We’ve also reviewed one another’s books, biased or not. Sometimes, we’ve even reviewed our own (under an assumed name, of course). Say what? Years ago I read an article in which Walt Whitman was said to have reviewed his “Leaves of Grass” because no one would publish it. When the review was published, “Leaves of Grass” was published, Walt Whitman’s career as an author was established, and reviewers lined up to review his work. Fabulous, eh?

Well, none of us need do that these days, as there are thousands of us around, busily creating and publishing our work. And, I might add, reviewing one another’s work. Over the years, I’ve known novelists Frederick Manfred, Henry Miller, Rudolfo Anaya, poet Freya Manfred (Frederick Manfred’s daughter), poet and memoirist Joe Wilkins, poets Kelly Cherry and Stephen Dunn. I like them, and have reviewed their work. Does that mean I couldn’t write a valid, unbiased review? No it does not. I tell people what I like about it, not what I might not.

I know scads of other writers these days, too, and review their books, with no one squawking . . . until someone at Amazon thinks it’s wrong, and it changes things, at least for a time. What do I think about it? I think it’s a huge mistake. I intend to continue writing reviews and submitting them to Amazon. If they begin disappearing (or not appearing at all), I’ll contact Amazon and give them my opinion as a longtime reviewer.

I love these little “situations” that appear from time to time.


About gwpj

Originally from Seattle, I now live in Sapporo, Japan, where I write, explore this city, read widely, and ask questions about things that i see as important. I'm also an author, with three novels published ("The Old Man and The Monkey", "Grandfather and The Raven", and "Bear: a story about a boy and his unusual dog"). For more information about my writing, drop by my website, at
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8 Responses to Being an author and a book reviewer

  1. I simply changed my name to Colwyn Dragoon, or whatever it is now? Haven’t had a problem since 🙂

    • gwpj says:

      Ha! I recognize that face, Mate! (By the way, it makes sense to me.)

      • LOL 😀
        Seriously though, Amazon really are a bunch of silly sausages. Are they going to ban the paid reviews by famous authors from the books as well? Because backing from a popular scribbler doesn’t come for free.

  2. gwpj says:

    Good point, Reg. Hopefully Amazon will see the silly side of all this and relent. In the meantime I might not be myself. 🙂

  3. You can read any number of sycophantic reviews on Amazon, and very few will have been written by another author. They’re written by family members, friends, people you met at the bus stop, and they tend to be one liners, often grammatically iffy, and contain the word ‘awesome’ or the phrase ‘I’d have given this ten stars’. Not hard to spot, and we take them with a pinch of salt. At least author (in academic circles it’s known as peer group) reviews should be better written and more inventive 🙂

    • gwpj says:

      I agree that peer group (author) reviews should be well-writen and more “Gee! Wonderful book!” Hopefully Amazon will awaken one of these days and realize that authors do them a favor reviewing books.

  4. J.R.Barker says:

    Well authors are avid readers, so it makes sense to review as well, just my thought anyhoo 🙂

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