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Caution: A Pat on the Back May be Hazardous to Your Career

November 18, 2012

The Ether is rife with quandaries over the subject of “reviews.” From sock puppetry to flaming posts, if you can imagine it, it has been written, spoken, photographed and/or cartooned.  What was once a simple matter of expression has become a viral debate at every level of the writing and reading worlds.

Amazon has changed its policies so many times, a person has to check in daily to see what is and isn’t allowed.  The latest scuttlebutt seems to be that a writer should not be allowed to post reviews for anyone, not even for his/her own work as a means to begin a dialogue.  The mind-numbing logic behind this is that if you are a writer, you must be in competition with all other writers, and therefore cannot be trusted to post an honest assessment of anyone else’s work.

Bull cookies, and everything that is unfit to print or speak aloud.  Seriously?  Writers are among the most avid of readers, and virtually all the writers I have met have no qualms whatsoever in reviewing each other’s work, especially if they enjoy reading it.  The only possible difference I can see is in the level of language ability a well-trained writer has over a less articulate, non-writer reader.  As has been aptly put by Dana L. Smith and so many others, a review is a form of “social proof” for a written work.  It offers insights into stories that may not be possible to put into a book blurb, and can engender far more interest in readers who might otherwise pass over that book.  Positive commentary from my closest competitors (or those I strive to be in competition with)? Bring it on.

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