Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Blogger's Dilemma: Negative Reviews

Thursday, March 28, 2013
It's easy as bloggers to rave about the books we love. Even books that we think  are just okay aren't too hard to write about. But books that didn't make the mark? Well, it's a little bit tricky. At least, it is for me.

It's never the case that I don't know what to say, but how to say it. Part of me wants to tear the offending book to shreds, but then I picture the author's face if they were ever to see such a review and it gives me pause. And if it happens to be a book I received for review? Well, that adds a whole other tangle. If I'm going to write any review, I have to be honest. So what's a blogger to do?

Thinking this over, I came up with a set of rules I use for writing negative reviews. Hopefully this will help any of you who are having the same issue.

1. Explain why you didn't like the book
When you're talking about a book you capital-L LOVED, do you just say that you loved it, or do you elaborate? When I'm crazy about a book, I talk about the great characters, the epic suspense, the killer cliffhangers, etc. Just because you didn't like a book doesn't mean it doesn't deserve the same respect. Don't just say "I couldn't stand it," but rather, "I couldn't stand it because..."

2. don't attack the author
Remember that you are critiquing the book, not the author. There is no reason to verbally abuse someone who is probably a perfectly nice human being who just happened to produce a book that (in your opinion) wasn't very good.

3. don't tag the author on twitter
Once you've published your review, you're likely going to publicize it. That's fine, but it's just cruel to send a negative review of a book to the person who wrote it. They're not going to retweet you and neither is their publisher, so the only reason you could possibly tag them is to essentially rub it in their faces that you didn't like the book. And that's just bad manners.

4. and as for those awkward emails... 
If it's a book you received for review, well this is just awkward. You should send the publisher a link to your review to show that you fulfilled your part of the ARC bargain, but what do you say? I've (fortunately) only had to do this once, and I said something along the lines of "Thank you for the opportunity to read *insert book title here.* While I had trouble connecting with it, I think *insert reader audience here* would enjoy it." If anyone has better advice for this point, by all means, share it in the comments!

So those are my rules. At the end of the day, though, it's your blog and you should do as you please! If you have different/additional advice concerning negative reviews, feel free to comment! :) To any of my followers who aren't bloggers, I'd love to hear your thoughts on negative reviews in general.


  1. I definitely agree with your rules! If I'm writing a review for a book I didn't like, I make sure explain what didn't work for me, but I always stress that my review is just my opinion, and that other people will probably read it and love it. I think I reiterate the point that the problem was with me, and not the book, because just because I dislike a book doesn't mean that everyone will. And it's so, so important to be respectful in reviews, as you said. I make sure that the focus is always on the book and never on the author. Fantastic post, thankfully negative reviews are a dilemma I don't come across all that often!

    Hollie @ Music, Books and Tea

  2. Nicely described! I like how you broke it down into rules. It's so hard writing negative reviews. I'm always afraid the author will see and be hurt. It's also hard because I always hope the books I read will become *THAT* book that I'll love to pieces, so it's super disappointing when I end up not liking the book at all.

    I always try to keep in mind that reviews are for readers. Reviews provide information about what the book is like beyond the blurb (slow, fast, what type of romance, type of character, etc), which is very helpful.

    How a blogger personally feels about those traits is also helpful. I know there are some reviewers who love what I love and hate what I hate so all I have to do is look at what books they liked to know what I should read.


Your comments brighten my day. :)