From last month’s discussion about low rating reviews, another talking point spawned. That is the concept of a “professional review.” When reading the various wanks surrounding reviews from cliques to conspiracies, one particular criticism is used consistently – the review is not professional. Whenever someone dislikes a particular review the instant criticism is that the review is not professional (such as this incredible wank from an author who resented that her work was “predictable” and the reviewer response) . No matter what additional problems are identified from snarky to mean, lazy to overly subjective, the number one insult is always to call the review unprofessional.
This of course got me wondering – what IS a professional review?
To me a “professional” review is written by someone paid for their review. I don’t mean in free products but that their words give them cold hard cash. It’s their job to review products. I think of professional reviews in print media or online magazines that are paid to do so. This means the review can be glowing, it can be snarky. I’ve read professional reviews that are more scathing than anything this genre has seen. I’ve seen reviews that are basically lengthy book reports about what happened in the book. So clearly a professional review – one written by someone paid for their commentary – is not a direct correlate to the quality of the review.
Along those lines, since the majority of the reviewers in this genre (to keep it home) aren’t professionally employed, we’re not professional reviewers. Ok we’re merely readers that have something to say. Definitely not bad but then, does it matter if our reviews are professional?
Now that doesn’t mean we don’t attempt to keep the reviews on point, polite, and professional anyway. Even though we’re not paid at all that doesn’t mean we don’t hold ourselves to own code of conduct. Of course that varies from reviewer to reviewer. But at the same time I can’t think of one high profile professional reviewer in this genre. Can anyone? Seriously help me out here.
I can think of a plethora of well respected reviewers in the genre. I can think of websites dedicated to reviewing the genre, numerous review sites and so on but even those aren’t what I would deem professional. The review sites (again for this genre to keep it local) aren’t designed to make money. The reviews on those sites can easily be called “unprofessional” if the claim is going to be made. The reviewers sure as hell aren’t getting paid for their reviews.
So my questions are two fold:
1. Just what is a professional review?
2. Should reviewers be held to this criticism even if we aren’t professionals?