Should I review your novel if you review mine?


Book reviews are hard to come by. Authors spend countless hours tracking down reviewers who are willing to take the time and effort to critique their work. So, what’s the harm in authors trading reviews? That depends on who you ask.

I recently got a request from an author. “If you review my book, I’ll review yours,” he said in a cheery e-mail.

I paused, not wanting to offend him. But the idea of a quid pro quo exchange of commentary on our novels made me uneasy. The idea seemed wrong, but was it?

I checked into the issue and, like many matters in the constantly changing world of publishing, the opinions were mixed. Some authors find nothing wrong with the idea of swapping reviews. But what happens if your book is brilliant and theirs is, um . . . not?

There seems to be a whiff of expectation involved in this author-to-author review dance. Writers understand the long hours and toil required to birth book babies, so surely, we would never speak harshly of another author’s creation, would we?

And even if the reviews turn out to be similar – filled with praise for both authors’ plot lines, character development, and skillful prose – does not this mutual patting of backs seem disingenuous?

The idea of trading author reviews seems on par, at least to me, with asking family members and loved ones to critique our books. In the vast majority of cases, aren’t those the people who want to extol our accomplishments? Find the good in our efforts? Skip over the poorly-written paragraphs and heavy-handed dialogue?

Both of the above cases make me squeamish. That said, authors need reviews. Reviews sell books. Getting reviews is demanding and often depressing work. Most reviewers will not even respond to queries. But that doesn’t mean you stop asking. Grit your teeth. Search the Internet for those book blogger lists and wade in with your eyes open. Here’s one I just tackled: And here are two more:   

Read what each blogger is looking for carefully. Click on their website to see if it’s up to date and if they’re currently accepting submissions. Then send your query.

When you do get that 5-Star Review from a complete stranger who owes you nothing, I think you’ll understand.


Anne Montgomery’s new novel, The Scent of Rain, tells the story of two Arizona teenagers whose fates become intertwined. Rose flees into the mountains to escape from her abusive polygamous community where her only future is marriage to a man older than her father. Adan, whose only wish is to be reunited with his mother, is on the run from the cruelties of the foster care system. Are there any adults they can trust? Can they even trust each other?  The Scent of Rain is available at and wherever books are sold.

4 thoughts on “Should I review your novel if you review mine?

  1. sharonledwith says:

    Not a fan of swapping reviews. I feel obligated, and I’m not a fast reader. I’d rather get them honestly – through readers who really WANT to read my books. Great post, Anne! Cheers!


  2. annemontgomeryauthor2013 says:

    I’m obviously with you on this, Sharon. And I’m amazed that anyone can find the time to review books. Maybe when I no longer have a day job. 😉


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