|graphic by Nina @NinaReads|
There's a definite standard of ethics that must be followed when it comes to book blogging and reviewing. I'm not going to say I'm an expert when it comes to this, but I will say this: better to be safe than sorry. Also, remember the Internet is forever.
Start with the basics and give credit where credit is due: who wrote the book? Who is publishing it? When did it come out/will it come out? If some awesome person sent you a copy of this book, electronically or printed in a contest or as an ARC, who are they? Just remember, you are doing what you're doing as (usually) a hobby because a lot of other people out there are doing their jobs. Acknowledge that. I start every single review post I do with this information right away, very clearly so people know what's to come.
Then you get to the review itself. Now as far as I know, I've never had people plagiarize off of my blog, but unfortunately I have heard of blogs this has happened to. It's a shame. It's rotten. It's a crummy thing to do in any walk of life to take credit for someone else's work, but at the same time there's not a whole lot legally speaking that I think bloggers can do in this regard. I will give the caution that word of mouth spreads like lightening on the Internet. If someone goes to social media and says 'so and so's reviews are just copies of mine, don't read that blog!' you can bet that news will get around. So is it really worth it to copy? No, of course not. So don't do it.
So when you are writing you're completely, 100% original opinion and review, be yourself. If you like the book, say why. If you don't, say that too. This brings me to my second point, though, that the Internet is forever. It is possible to write a review about why you wouldn't recommend a book without being mean. There's no need to be rude. For one, it can turn people off. I don't want to spend time in real life with people who are mean, so why spend time online surrounding myself with that. No thanks, I'll pass. Also, remember that a person wrote this book. A person, with real hopes and dreams and if you're reading this book and it's not self-published, that also usually means an agent liked it enough to represent it, and a publishing house liked it enough to make it real. The key word here is professionalism - act professionally if you want to be respected. Sure you can take down a review later, but if someone wants it badly enough, they'll be able to get to it one way or another.
Moral of the story: think before you post. You'll be glad you did.
I wish I read more nonfiction! I love biographies and memoirs, stories about things that really happened. I love getting wrapped up in a story, and I find the true ones are often more incredible than even some of the best fiction out there because you couldn't make it up if you tried. Richard Hammond's memoir On the Edge, the story about when he suffered massive brain trauma in an jet-powered car accident that was caught all on tape because he was recording a segment for the world-wide hit BBC TV show Top Gear remains one of my favorite nonfiction books. His story is so raw and honest, and when he can't share parts due to the trauma causing him not to remember parts of his ordeal, Richard's wife fills in the blanks. Even if you don't like cars, it's a fantastic TV show and a brilliant read that I cannot recommend highly enough.