Jenn Reese Writer, Artist, Geek

Review Ethics


I’m compiling a list of reviews for JADE TIGER, and have run into an ethical snag.

I understand that it’s normal to pick and choose the most positive comments from a review. I have no problem doing that when the review is overwhelmingly positive. But when the review is more 50/50 good and bad, it seems icky to quote just the good bits.

“Fast-paced writing” sounds great, but not so great when the whole quote reads, “Fast-paced writing that leaves the reader dizzy, and not in a good way.” (I made that one up. No need to bring real reviews into this!)

How do you handle this? Where do you draw the line? Do you ever post negative reviews on your site? (Linking to them in your journal doesn’t count — I’m talking permanent links on your site.)

Grant unto me your wisdom!

About the author

Jenn Reese


  • Tobias Buckell, author of Crystal Rain and Ragamuffin, some great Caribbean sci-fi, often posts reviews all over the board on his blog…both wholly positive and wholly negative ones. Thing is, he never makes any sort of response to them. He just posts them for people to see and lets others decide what they want to do with it. He doesn't defend against the bad ones or put the good ones on a pedestal, and I appreciate his honesty, since I know no book out there, no matter how good, is going to get five stars everywhere it goes. So seeing different people's takes on it isn't go to change my opinion, but it is nice to get different perspectives sometimes.

    • Toby is an excellent role-model — thanks for reminding me! He's so open about the whole process of publishing that he's making the business better for the rest of us. I would certainly do well to follow his lead in this (and a great many other things).

  • I put only the positive reviews on my site. People are capable of going to other sites to read different reviews, but I'm going to focus only on the positive. A website is a marketing tool!

    • I agree! I decided to leave the 50/50 review off the site, along with the 100% bad ones. Fortunately there were enough good ones to fill the space… this time. :)

  • I’m with Dayle–positive reviews only would go on my website, were I to collect my reviews there (which I suppose I probably should, hmm).

  • I have never had a review so I can't say for sure, but it's fun to pretend.

    I would put all the reviews there. I feel that the funniest reviews are the ones that are negative. They tend to notice the "rough edges" that, to me, are what makes fiction worthwhile to begin with.

    I think it's OK to argue with the negative reviews if you have a sense of decorum to make the response funny. Something along the lines of, "You are a complete moron! Your eyes are unworthy to even gaze upon my lovely writing."

    Also, it would be funny to argue with the _good_ reviews. Nearly nobody does that so you'd really enter a new namespace of creativity there.

    "Yea, you thought my story was good, well guess what, I was high the entire time I wrote it. I never thought it was going to get published, but we all get lucky."

    Getting reviewed should be fun.

By Jenn Reese
Jenn Reese Writer, Artist, Geek

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