Monday, 18 April 2011

Should Bloggers Post Negative Reviews?

Lately there seem to be countless incidents in which reviewers are being attacked for expressing their honest opinion about a book. This rises the question, should you post negative reviews on your blog/Goodreads/Amazon etc?

I think the following has happened to almost everyone that has been blogging for a while. An author contacts you  and asks you to review his or her book. You read the blurb, read some reviews and decide to give the book a try. Sadly enough, you don't like it. At all. What to do now? Not post the review, and offending the author you promised a review to, or do post the review, and offending the author by giving the book him or her provided a bad review. 

I have been faced with that dilemma multiple times, and I have done both the not posting and the posting. Personally, I lean towards the post-your-bad-review camp. The only time I've decided against it was when I was part of a certain book tour, and I couldn't get through the book. I did like the author though, and I'm sure other people will absolutely love the book, but it wasn't for me. Maybe it was just bad timing, I don't know. Anyway, I didn't want to spoil the author's book tour, so I just did my tour stop like a good girl, but didn't add a review to it.

However, I think you should be able to post your not so good reviews as a blogger. If we would all only write raving reviews, how can readers decide for themselves if they would like the book or not? To be properly informed, you should know both the good and the bad. Before I buy the book I always read some 1 or 2-star reviews on Goodreads. If they complain about things that don't bother me, I'm almost a hundred percent sure I'll like the book and it will be safe to buy it.

If you only post 5-star reviews, there is also the problem that no one believes that you write your own honest opinion any more. And that's exactly what being a reviewer is about. We don't get paid by any company. People read our blogs because we love reading and we like to talk about our experiences as readers.

One thing that I think no blogger should ever do, is to attack an author personally. You can hate a book, sure. But don't make it a personal fight. And just because you didn't like it doesn't mean that someone else can't like it.

In my opinion everyone should review the way he or she feels is right. As long as you stay honest, and stay kind.

What do you think? Do you write negative reviews? And what do you do if you have "befriended" an author, would you still post a negative review? Leave a comment and join the discussion!


Unknown said...

That just happened to me a few weeks ago and the author wouldn't let it go to this day.

If it's a self published book I'll think twice before publishing a bad review. I'm at the point where I won't even accept a self published book unless it has been professionally edited.

If it's a book that was published through the big or not so big publishers I'll publish my thoughts because it went through several eyes and had a chance to become "less crappy".

John G. Hartness said...

If it's your blog, it's your opinion, and to expect anything else is silly. I've been in enough plays and written enough work to know that not everyone is going to love everything I do (my ego notwithstanding). So if I ask for a review, I'm asking for your opinion. If you run a book review blog, I expect to read your opinion. I won't hold you to anyone else's opinion, but I expect you to present yours honestly.

I've seen some bloggers that won't publish a review of less than three stars. I don't have a problem with that. I also don't have a problem with an honest two or one-star review. Personally when I decide to recommend a book, it's because I really like it. But I'm not a book blogger, I'm a writer with a blog. There's a pretty sizeable difference there.

Who are you doing reviews for? If you're doing reviews for writers, then please give it up. We're a bunch of whiny &!*@#$ that will never be happy. If you're doing reviews for people who love books and you want to share great books with them, then feel free to warn them away from garbage while you're at it.

Now my opinion of this might all change if you hate my next book! ;) At the end of the day, it's your blog, and anybody who doesn't like it can surf to one of the bajillion other pages on teh interwebs.

Must Love Books said...

I think it's so weird that this is even becoming an issue lately. I'm on the you should always post your reviews on the book, even if they are bad. I've actually lost a few followers before because of bad reviews I've given, but still. I think it's important to talk about which books you dislike as well as like, so the reader will understand if they have the same taste in books as you and can then decide if they trust your opinion or not.

Anonymous said...

I say we should handle a book review like a business transaction. Polite, friendly and, most importantly, honest. Honest does not need to be vicious or mean-spirited. Frankly, when I don't like a book but feel obligated to review, I simply find the things that I did like about the book and emphasis those. I will state something that perplexed or bothered me but try to explain why I think the author chose this way to write. I also will not put a starred rating on something I'm reviewing for an author. I figure my words are good enough.

Wenj said...

I agree to the posting the bad review. I've written some glowing reviews and some not so glowing ones and try not to feel guilty despite my love of the author themselves. But, when writing a bad review I always to be as courteous as I can be, stating why I didn't like it and what I thought could be improved to gain my interest.

I always feel like not doing the review is far worse then actually posting a negative one. It feels like I'm disappointing my followers by not giving them my honest opinion, so that's another reason why I usually do post them in the end,

SusiSunshine said...

I have to admit that I don't liek to write bad reviews but more out of me being an all nice girl. I don't like to hurt anyones feelings so I actually try to be nice. And as you said it is even worse when you like the author. *sigh* But no way around it. As you said, I just try to be honest about my thoughts and keep it just about the book and my thoughts about it. No need to include the author in any way. I think that way it should be okay to post the bad ones- even though it makes me feel crappy.

And I have to agree with Man of la Book: cuz of the crappy reception I got from mostly self-published authors I now avoid those whenever I can.

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