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In an effort to share more of myself with you guys I created Books for Life. I talk about my life outside of this sanctuary called the blogosphere. Hopefully you guys like getting to know the girl behind the blog a little bit more.

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I’ve been thinking about this since my blog gained more than about five followers (bless those five). Can I be an author and a book blogger?

I’m honest in all of my reviews. I don’t write positive reviews unless I think a book deserves them, but I also don’t write horribly mean negative reviews. I say what I think, and I write what I mean.

But does that mean I can continue this if I ever reach my dream of becoming a published author? Authors form a community, and make friends, and support each other – I see this on Twitter all the time. But I wonder if the author community means that I could not also be a part of this community – the book blogging community.

Could I continue to write honest reviews of fellow authors’ books, and not feel as if I was somehow negatively influencing my readers (when it’s a less than glowing review)? I really don’t know. I know that I have worked my ass off to get my blog to where it is today. That I have spent hundreds of dollars and hours (months more likely if you added them all up) in producing the best content I can, and to being a part of this wonderful community. I know that I do not want to give up one thing I love because I’ve gained another.

But I also know that I haven’t ever really seen an author who also has a book blog. Who reviews books, and not always in a positive light. To be honest, I think this might be because of fear of confrontation, or controversy, or other words that start with letters other than ‘c’ but mean about the same thing.

So I want to ask you: do you think an author can also be an honest book blogger? Or is it one or the other?

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Posted on: May 18, 2015 • By: Chiara

50 Responses to Can You be an Author & a Book Blogger?

  1. Katherine says:

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot too, especially outside of blogging as well. Youtube has always been an intriguing platform for me, but I’m worried about it affecting my professional life or job search because I do really want a traditional job. I think writing is really cool too, and I would probably feel like I had to stop reviewing when I got a book deal. But what about the reviews before that? I’m not sure, because I love this community too. Maybe just positive reviews? This is a really great post.

    • Chiara says:

      I was thinking the same thing! I have written quite a lot of mediocre and negative reviews, so would I leave them up for people to see? Or take them down. It’s an interesting question.

      A lot of people are suggesting that keeping it positive is the way to keep book blogging, so I definitely think it’s something to consider!

      Thank you ;D

  2. There’s a lot of pressure on authors to ‘be nice’ so they can receive favours (blurbs, etc) from other authors. I know of one big-name reviewer who is also an indie author, Nenia Campbell, and she manages it quite well. However I also know of plenty of authors who have quit reviewing because of pressure to be nice, or only talk about books they LOVE. Even then, there’s a fear that someone will negatively rate your book as payback for any kind of perceived slight. Jane Litte of Dear Author was recently ‘outed’ as an author and received quite the backlash (from other authors – http://dearauthor.com/misc/a-letter-to-the-da-readership/). Reviewers in general tend not to care if another reviewer is an author or not, but other authors sure do care.

    • Chiara says:

      Yeah, it’s definitely from the author side. I don’t think reviewers care what your background is, as long as you’re giving good and honest reviews of the books you’re reading.

      But the loss of positive relationships that could potentially come about from posting negative reviews is kind of scary!

  3. Honestly, I think you should be whatever you want to be. This topic isn’t something I’ve ever actually thought about — I’m passionate about writing and about book blogging so why on earth would I stop one for another? I personally like reading authors reviews of books because I like seeing them support one another and there have been quite a few times were I’ve discovered authors and books through another author.

    • Chiara says:

      Right? I don’t want to give up one for the other.

      There are ups for writing positive reviews of fellow authors’ books, but I haven’t really seen the other side, which I guess is why I am questioning it :/

  4. Benish says:

    This is actually a pretty fantastic post, I haven’t seen many authors who are reviewers and bloggers as well. Most of them I’ve seen all give positive ratings to the books they read, so I’m not sure if they’re being genuine,,

    Although, there is another author there and she’s a reviewers/blogger as well, her name is Navessa and she does write pretty brutal honest reviews but they’re fantastic. I think it’s pretty awesome if authors still review books good or bad, although if they’re reviews are awesome but their books aren’t then it’s just blah.. I don’t see any problem with still giving negative reviews as an author though :) It shouldn’t be a big deal though.

    • Chiara says:

      Thanks, Benish :)

      I don’t think it should be a big deal, but it definitely is. I’d like to see more author book bloggers, but I don’t think it’s a possibility right now.

      A lot of people are suggesting to stay positive, but then that’s only half of being a book blogger!

  5. Yep, I’ve thought about this too :) I so desperately want to be an author, but I also love blogging so much. I would definitely still keep blogging, I think, but maybe in a different way? Or I guess I would not properly review the books of my really close author friends. I mean, book bloggers are friends with authors as it is, so I guess it wouldn’t be a MASSIVE jump…

    Gosh, you’ve scared me now :P

    • Chiara says:

      A lot of people are suggesting to just be a positive book blogger, and kind of stay silent about the books you’re not so fond of. Which makes sense.

      Like you said: it’s already awkward when we don’t like books by author friends, so how much worse would it be if you were an author, too? Eep.

  6. A very interesting post and you make good points. To be honest, I don’t know of an author who reviews books negatively. And I think it’s the exact reason you mentioned above. When your an author, they’re your peoples and you stick by them. Dahlia Adler is a fantastic author and blogger. She’s honest about her thoughts, but she definitely does keep her reviews positive. I’ve never seen her rate a book below 3 stars and I find that she mostly reviews books she loves or really enjoys.

    I definitely think it’s still possible to blog and be an author, I just think things shift a little and stay more positive.

    • Chiara says:

      I think staying more positive is the general thought on this topic! Which is good, because I think it means that being an author and a book blogger IS possible, but the book blogging aspect might just change a little bit. And change is okay!

  7. This is actually an interesting point! I know a lot of budding authors, but not any published ones who actually review books negatively. I mean you wouldn’t want to risk pissing anyone else off in the industry and opening yourself up to criticism.

    • Chiara says:

      Thanks, Jeann!

      I think the negative aspect of reviewing books is definitely the one aspect that is making me question the ability to be both an author AND a book blogger. :/

  8. Shannelle says:

    For me, ideally, you could. But other people are just going to see it as an author bashing another author.

    What makes it so different right now is that I know your history, and I’ve seen your journey. I know you were a book blogger first, and I’ll be there still cheering you on when you become a published author.

    I think readers generally wouldn’t care. It’s the authors you have to deal with. They won’t view it objectively, and if ugly things can happen if a reviewer leaves a negative review, then how much more an author leaving a negative review? Sadly, unless the general outlook is changed, you can’t be an author and a reviewer.

    • Chiara says:

      Awh, Shannelle! *hug*

      Yeah, I definitely agree that it’s not the reader reaction to be worried about – but that of fellow authors. Like you said, if negative reviews by reviewers are reacted to so strongly, how would reviews by authors be received? Badly, I think.

  9. Mitchii G. says:

    The thing about having an opinion is the way people interpreted it. It could mean another thing to another person; sometimes very different from your intention. So regardless if it is positive or negative review it still depends on the person who will perceive it. But I think being honest is still they key, I think if you’re honest with what you’re doing, in this case writing, that will transcend to your readers, or fellow authors.

  10. You bring up a great point!

    When I browse Goodreads, a few of the authors I follow leave comments+ratings of other author’s works and usually they are ones of high praise (4 stars +). Sometimes there are comments but sometimes there aren’t. Where are all the not-so-nice/negative reviews?

    I like that you used the word “community” earlier in your post. As bloggers, we are constantly commenting/liking other people’s works with the intention of boosting our own blogs. That’s the beauty of social media. And I think with authors, its much of the same thing just in its own community. You comment on popular books to bring your fans attention to it and hope that the favour is returned later.

    So while I think there are two different communities, I don’t think they have to be mutually exclusive. You have to find the balance and be comfortable with what and how you post. Maybe you don’t post super long reviews anymore and instead keep it to a paragraph or two. I think most people appreciate up-front honesty so I would prefer if authors who do review, do so under their own name and not anonymously (though I completely understand why they would do that for fear of backlash).

    It’s ok not to like things, regardless of what your profession is. If I was an author and another author posted a non-favourable review, I would hope that the review was constructive and not a flat out bashing of my book. It could be a great support community if people felt comfortable enough to do it (and therein lies the problem to me).

    • Chiara says:

      I definitely agree what what you said in the last part of your comment – that it’s about being comfortable posting a less than glowing review of a fellow author’s book. Even though a book review is not synonymous with what you think of an author or their writing in general – I know I’ve really disliked one book by an author and then LOVED another piece of their work.

      I like your idea of writing shorter reviews. I think it would give opportunity to share thoughts but without an in depth critical analysis of things that weren’t so greatly received.

      Thank you for your awesome comment!

  11. Whoa this is really interesting…

    I’ve written bash reviews before but in a way, it would be REALLY bad if a published author wrote a bash reviewer about another. In my mind, they’re two different parts of the same industry so I don’t see why you can’t be part of both. However, if I were, I would be like, “in this blog, I am solely a reviewer.” It isn’t fair to judge authors for neg reviewers and give bloggers the free pass. We’re both human, right?

    • Chiara says:

      Exactly! I still have my same thoughts on novels, so I should be able to share them as I do now, right? Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s the case. I’d love to say: these thoughts have nothing to do with who I am as an author, or who these authors are as people – but isn’t that already implied? When I write a negative review, it is for the book only, not the author. So why would it suddenly become so just because I am an author, too? I think it’s sad that (at the moment, at least), that can’t be realised – that book reviewing and book writing are separate things. Sigh.

  12. This is a really tough topic, Chiara. I mean, I have seen a few authors with book blogs (like Kate Ormand and Mindy McGinnis, for example), but the reviews they publish are only positive.

    Also, Hafsah of IceyBooks. I feel like she focuses more on being a book blogger than being a part of the author community, and that makes me wonder if there’s ever going to be a respectful balance between the two, without being told you’re a basher.

    Ideally, if I was an author and an author friend blogged badly about my book, I’d be okay with it, but I can’t really speak for other people.

    • Chiara says:

      I know, right? It seems like the consensus is to remain a book blogger, but a positive one.

      I know that I could read a review for my book that was not glowing, and read it objectively, but I also know that it would hurt. So would I be okay with doing that to someone else? I’m not entirely sure.

  13. Such a thought provoking post Chiara! I’ve been thinking about this as well. I really believe you can BUT some do it quietly. Like, if they don’t like a book, they just don’t talk about it. Because like what Shannelle said, once they voice out there thoughts, some people will see it as bashing :(

    • Chiara says:

      Thank you, Paula! Yes, I do believe that author book blogging would probably require a more positive focus than a straight up book blog.

  14. This is definitely a complicated topic. I want to be a published author one day, but I love reviewing books and I’d hate to have to stop. I haven’t seen any authors who review books, though, and I understand that fear of backlash from negative reviews in the author community. I’d probably shift my author blog into more of a writing blog, but I’d try to figure out a way to still talk about the books I read. Hmmm… it’s so hard to figure out a way to keep all parties happy but also be true to yourself!

    • Chiara says:

      It is so hard! I think sticking to positive book reviews, or maybe just posts about books you’ve loved recently could bring that “book blogging” aspect into an author blog. But I’m really unsure about negative reviews.

  15. Amanda P. says:

    Ah another fantastic discussion post, girl! I’ve thought about this too, because I eventually want to publish my novels, but I love this little book blogging community so much! However, I think when you become an author, your priorities will change a bit (I’m speaking from my personal stance). I think you would be less concerned about writing reviews for the books you read and more concerned with the books your publisher or author friends want you to blurb. I think you can still easily interact with a lot of people in the blogging community, but you may need to watch what you say, as we all should (if we’re being honest). I’m not saying that you aren’t entitled to your own opinion, but maybe if an author is careful about how exactly she phrases negative opinions, then it can be okay. I think it’s all about tact, The only thing you have to realize is you’re probably going to be meeting these authors and working with them, so you have to personally be ready for that.

    All that to say, do what you want, but I think you might be surprised how much time you have to continue book blogging. YOu will have deadlines and constantly be writing once you are picked up by a publishing house, Not to mention adult life, and having to work if you can’t live off the author paycheck. You may not have enough time in the day to work on your blog like you do now… and you know, that’s okay. Just as long as you are okay with it when the time comes. :)

    • Chiara says:

      I definitely think that the relationships are the main influencing factor when I consider being both a published author and a book blogger. I know that I would rather smooth relationships than to post negative reviews. To be honest, I don’t like not liking books, and I’d much prefer to spread the love than to dissuade anyone from reading a book, so maybe that’s the way to go.

      And of course there’s time. Book blogging is a HUGE time gobbler, so I know I wouldn’t have as much time to do this as I do now. Which would also make it worthwhile to spread the bookish love with what time I did have for book blogging!

  16. This is such a fascinating topic – I’ve actually thought about it before, and I’d like to say that you COULD be a blogger and an author. Just like every other person, authors have positive and negative feelings about books, and in a perfect world, readers and fellow authors would respect that. But of course, you’d be walking a dangerous line if you posted a negative review… I think it might require a bit more discretion than just being a blogger, but overall I think you could do it if you really wanted to. (I have no plans to ever be a published author, but I want to work on the marketing/PR side of publishing, so MY question is whether or not I could do THAT and still be a blogger. What if I didn’t like a book published by my company? D:)

    • Chiara says:

      I think it would require a lot more thinking. I mean, I post mediocre and negative reviews without a second thought at the moment because that’s what book blogging is about – being open and frank about my feelings on the books I read. But I think I would be a lot more hesitant to be as forthcoming as I am at the moment. I know a few authors have book blogs where they post positive reviews only, so maybe that’s an avenue to consider.

      Ah, that’s another thing to consider, and kind of comes with the same difficult questions!

  17. Valerie says:

    Honestly, I think I would blog under a pseudonym or write under a pseudonym. I don’t know. I don’t plan to be a writer, but maybe I will? WHO KNOWS. But I feel like I would get a lot of backlash. And I don’t like backlash. But then again I want to be true to myself, you know? Nice topic Chiara!

    • Chiara says:

      It’s so way too late for pseudonyms for me XD I have my name out there as a book blogger and aspiring writer, eep. But yes, the backlash for straddling the line between the two communities might be a possibility – and not a nice one >.< But yes, staying true to what you love is super important, too. Which is why this is so difficult! Thanks, Valerie :D

  18. Nara says:

    Man, this is a really tough issue. It’s not really something I’ve thought about before to be honest! I feel like maybe you would be a bit more inclined to censor your reviews if you were both an author and a blogger- because you’d sort of know first hand how it feels to get a negative review? And it might be a bit more difficult to integrate into the author community if you criticise too many other members in the community.
    Although that being said, I think there are actually a couple of bloggers who are also authors- Hafsah from Icey Reads is one that I can think of off the top of my head. They seem to be doing things successfully, so I guess you can be both!

    • Chiara says:

      I definitely think that being less snarky (as I often am in my less than glowing reviews) might be a good way to go XD Or maybe just posting positive reviews (although I think there’s some downfalls to that, as well).

      I just wouldn’t feel comfortable writing a mediocre or negative review for a book that was written by an author I knew/was friendly with. It would feel horrible, so I don’t think I could do it, to be honest.

      I hope I can do both (if I become a published author, that is)!

  19. Sydney says:

    Honestly? I don’t know if there’s a good answer for this. I know there are a lot of authors who were bloggers/are bloggers or at least maintain one now (SJ Maas, Maggie Stiefvater, and a lot of authors). I also know that they sometimes share books that have been influential to them, or that they loved lately. So I don’t think you’d have to give up book blogging entirely.

    For me, I’d happily give up book blogging if I was picked up by a pub. My least favorite part of book blogging is reviewing. I know that might sound weird, but it is. I love talking about books and sharing what ones I loved, but I hate feeling like I’m obligated to read and review something when a pub sends it to me, or approves me to read it. There are the “reading schedules” and other crap too. Like there’s so much pressure to be bigger and better and have great numbers and get the newest and best books and I kind of don’t like that. I like having a moderately well-known blog with a solid following that doesn’t give me any stress.

    Okay, I’m a bit off topic. ANYWAY, what I’m saying is book blogging is great for aspiring authors I think. We know what readers do and don’t like, what makes a book loved, how what Person A likes may be what Person B hates and that’s okay.

    But do I think authors should be book bloggers? I don’t know. I don’t really think so. You’re more exposed to reviews of your book and if you don’t have thick skin it’s going to hurt. A lot. Should you maintain a blog? Yeah! Talk about books you’ve genuinely loved, talk about music, your writing, characters, tv shows… but I think book blogging is a gray area when it comes to also being a published author. (And not self-published — I’m talking one of the Big Houses.)

    • Chiara says:

      Yeah, I get what you mean. But this is kind of a new concept since book blogging hasn’t been a huge thing until kind of recently.

      And I just feel like if I became an author, I wouldn’t WANT to give this up. I’ve put so much time and effort and money into it, and I love it. I really do. I like writing reviews, and discussions – and I like reading other bloggers’ posts, too. I think walking away from it would be like giving up one thing that I really love for another. And I really don’t think it should work like that.

  20. Annette says:

    I think you can only do both if you go by the concept of “never the twain shall meet”.

    You can’t blog AS an author and review books, but you could continue with your blog if your professional identity as a writer was a separate thing… Basically, so long as your blog is a ‘secret’ that your novel’s readers, publishers, agents and fellow authors know nothing about.

    • Chiara says:

      I don’t think I could ever separate the two; at least not now. I haven’t used an alias as a book blogger, and I don’t want to as an author. I’ve also spoken very freely about my desire to be an author on this blog, so it is too late for me, haha!

      It never crossed my mind to keep the two separate when I began blogging, but it probably should have been something to think about!

  21. Beth says:

    I think community is a funny concept. To some people, being in a community is an essential part of life, and they are utterly proud to be involved. On the other end of the spectrum, community is a dirty word. For me, I think community is just another way of saying ‘friends’. And as far as I’m concerned, it’s perfectly okay to be friends with other authors AND reviewers. Yes, you will get some people who say that other book bloggers are reviewing your books nicely because you’re their friend, and that will always happen. But as long as YOU are gracious and gentle in your book reviews, there’s probably not much that people can complain about. Maybe you could make a point of not reviewing any books by authors that you know personally, just in case their book isn’t as amazing as expected… But to be honest, I’d trust your reviews DESPITE the fact you were an author. It wouldn’t bother me at all.
    Beth x

    • Chiara says:

      Your comment is great, Beth. And I like your idea of not reviewing books by personal author friends. I mean, as much as authors ARE a community, a lot of them never interact. And that depends on a lot of things, including popularity (I always see the same popular authors interacting).

      I’m glad that you’d still trust my reviews, because nothing would change. The only thing would be that my books were able to be read by the general public, and not just myself and beta readers!

  22. This is my one true nightmare!
    I’ve always wanted to be an author, ever since I was really young, and when I started to blog, I thought I was one step near to being a writer, but as time progressed, I’ve been having second doubts. I don’t think I can ever abandon being a blogger or being part of the wonderful community which will be a bit tough if you start to write.And we can’t actually lead a Hannah Montana life with two identities-it will be unrealistic.
    Wonderful post Chiara! This made me think quite a lot!:)

    • Chiara says:

      It would be great if it was realised that book blogging is just your opinion, and does not reflect what you think of an author or their writing ability. I mean I have some negative reviews AND positive reviews for the same author!

      It’s incredibly sad for me to think that book blogging and being an author might not be able to go hand in hand :(

      No problem, Misma! I’m glad you liked it :D

  23. Romi says:

    I’ve been thinking about this myself, Chiara, and the outcome I reached was that I wish I had started my blog with an alias, so I could continue it, if I wanted, when I reach authorhood, but thinking about that- that might seem like a bit of a lie. I wouldn’t want to have that future misconception, though I have no problem with bloggers not revealing their true name. And I suppose, if someone wanted to find out, they would.
    I’m going to be no help, because I want to know the answer to this as much as you! I adore the blogging community and I don’t want to lose it, but I don’t want to not go all out with my writing because of it- I don’t want to be held back by either of my passions. I do know one author… Bridgid Kremmer, I think, who reviews (Oh, and Steph Bowe does, too- both Australian, I believe), but I don’t know about negative reviews. I think they do. Maybe I just wouldn’t review friends books, whether I thought they were amazing or they weren’t my thing?

    • Chiara says:

      I have thought about that as well, Romi! But I also like the fact that everyone knows who I am, as well. I’d feel a bit fraudulent if I wasn’t open and upfront about myself. But like you said: I hold nothing against bloggers who blog under an alias.

      I do know that there are some authors who post positive reviews on their blogs, and that’s great. It’s still sharing the bookish love around. But what about all the mediocre and negative reviews I’ve ALREADY posted? Do I delete them (of course, I am saying this in regards to the hypothetical world where I become a published author). SIGH. It’s very confusing, because this blog means so much to me, and I wouldn’t just want it to die because I achieved my dream.

  24. Jordon says:

    That is a very interesting question!

    Honestly, in a professional view I feel like it would be highly unprofessional to run a book blog like book bloggers do in the book blogging community (Say book blogger one more time), and be a full fledged author at the same time. It would be a massive conflict of interest don’t you think?

    A book blog, and running a blog as an author where you maybe occasionally post good reviews of books you enjoyed and posted meme’s even would be fine. But once you started posting negative reviews of books, I honestly think it would be like lambasting the people that you might need to network with in the future and could help you push your career. It would also appear to be unprofessional from an agent or editor’s point of view, in my opinion.

    I think authors can run author blogs but it would get weird if they ran a full on book blog and reviewed a ton of other books. Plus I don’t know how I would feel about that author as an ‘author’, on the other hand, a lot of indie authors post reviews of books on their blogs, but I don’t feel like it’s the same.

    Plus, I honestly don’t think an author would have a lot of time to run a book blog, they would be busy writing, planning and promoting their next book/s. That is their job and how they make money after all.

    A ‘book blog’ and a ‘author blog’ are different things in my opinion.

    Jord

    Maybe that’s just my opinion though?

    • Chiara says:

      You bring up some really good points, Jordon, and ones that I have thought of myself! If I were to keep this blog, though, I wouldn’t advertise it as my author blog. An author blog, to me, is where someone writes about writing and publishing – maybe some personal and random bookish stuff, too. I suppose I wouldn’t be “author” Chiara on my book blog.

      But then I am still writing it, and I’d still have to network and work with the authors and agents and publishers of the books I was writing reviews for, and it’s almost like a conflict of interest, even though my thoughts on a book have nothing to do with their creators.

      It’s such a hard question to answer, because there are so many different things to consider!

  25. This is such an interesting topic – one I’ve seen brought up quite a few times in my writerly circles (though not so much in the book blogging community, and we should make of that what we will!). I truly think it varies from blogger to blogger and author to author – and I know authors who started out as book bloggers and vice versa – but if that’s something you’re not comfortable with, then by all means, talking about books is certainly not a requirement for being an author! (Reading them is, but that’s another story. ;))

    I suppose the number one thing I’d caution against is avoiding book blogging because one is too afraid to give negative reviews. Personal preference is not a synonym for cowardice.

    • Chiara says:

      I know there are a few authors who do book blog and write novels, but their reviews are mostly positive. And the thing is – when I’m writing a negative review, I am not writing about the author, or even their abilities as a writer. The reasons why I dislike books are varied and sometimes inconsistent.

      I think the main thing I’d be worried about is posting a negative review for a book of an authory friend, I suppose. I mean, when I see authors interacting on Twitter, they all love each others’ books, and there’s always a little part of me wondering if they’re telling the truth, to be honest!

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