I’ve heard a lot of people speak negatively about book reviews from friends and family. I don’t really see the problem. Did you write a book? Did your mother leave you a review on Amazon? Good for you! I don’t have any reviews from my mother. When I told her that I had self-published a book about zombies, she acted like I had told her I made an amateur pornographic movie. When I told her my second zombie novel was going to be published by Severed Press, she acted like I had told her I’d just made a professional pornographic movie. She hasn’t read either of my books. No one in my family has. None of them have given me any reviews, either. Of course, if I ever make any real money as a writer, it will be because of their tireless efforts to support me and their constant encouragement and hey, where’s my cut? I do have a couple of friends’ reviews on my first book, but nothing from my family.
There’s a lot of talk about negative reviews and bullying and that sort of thing these days. People are pretty passionate about the subject. There are a lot of folks who go to great lengths to defend the rights of reviewers to leave negative reviews, whether the reviewer finished the book, or even read the first page. I’ve noticed, though, that a lot of those same people are the ones who will trash your reviews from friends and family. Personally, I’m a big fan of freedom of speech. Everyone should be allowed to give their opinion, no matter how well or ill informed they are on the subject. Saying that someone has to read an entire book from start to finish in order to be able to give their opinion is like saying that someone needs to be completely knowledgeable of every issue before they are allowed to vote. Ideally, yes, that would be how it would work, but that’s not the way it is in a free society. If you disagree, let me ask you this: Are you a conservative? Do you have an opinion on a book that you haven’t read? Maybe one by Michael Moore or Noam Chomsky? How about the liberals reading this? Same question, but say the book is by Ted Nugent or Bill O’Reilly. I’ll bet there’s a book out there that you haven’t read but you have an opinion on. That’s okay, though, because you’re entitled to your opinion. Conversely, just as someone who didn’t finish a book is entitled to their opinion on it, so is the author’s mother, or sister, or BFF, or anyone else that the author knows.
I don’t have a great support system like a lot of authors getting started do. I barely have ties with my family, and only have enough real friends in the non-virtual world to count on one hand and have fingers left over. I do have some friends on Facebook and Goodreads, but having internet friends is kind of a new concept to me. If you have a really supportive bunch of family and friends that want to read your book and leave their honest opinion of it on a website, there’s nothing wrong with that. Is their opinion somewhat skewed because they know you? Of course it is! That’s okay, though. It’s still their opinion and they are still entitled to it. News networks are allowed to give their skewed opinions, why can’t an author’s mom?
Let me tell you about a little obsession of mine. I love to do puzzles. All kinds of puzzles, but Sudoku puzzles in particular. If I start one, I HAVE to finish it, or something really bad will happen. I don’t know what this horrible occurrence will be, or why I think it will take place, I just know that if someone calls when I’m in the middle of one, I have to call them back later. Even the hardest Sudoku puzzles have a few gimmes. You don’t have to take them, but solving the puzzle without them is going to be exponentially harder than it should be. Life is hard enough already. Take the gimmes. Selling books is hard. There’s nothing wrong with taking a few gimme reviews, as long as they’re honest reviews. If your mom isn’t ashamed of what you do, and wants to leave a review for your book, she absolutely should, and you shouldn’t feel the least bit embarrassed about it. While she’s at it, maybe you could get her to review One Undead Step, too!