Bookin' It

So Many Books. So Little Time. Let's Review!

A Word About Negative Reviews

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Sometime back, before I tried my hand at writing myself, actually, I decided I was done writing negative reviews. I’d only written a few of them, because frankly, they aren’t fun to write, and I realized, I was only writing them when I was angry about something in the book I was reviewing. Don’t know about YOU, but I think writing (or doing anything else) when you are angry, is usually a bad idea. Since I’m not going to lie about a book I didn’t enjoy, I made up my mind only to review books that I would rate at 3 stars or higher. And after I started writing books myself, I knew I absolutely couldn’t tear down anyone else’s work again. So, I don’t.

I’m not saying this is what everyone should do. It’s just my personal choice to review books I enjoy, and share them with others. And, quite honestly, there are many, many people out there willing to jump all over someone’s work and call it garbage, so my voice won’t be missed in that area. But I still have opinions about negative reviews. I think they should help a writer understand where he or she has gone astray, and be filled with constructive criticism, rather than insults thrown out there by a reviewer having fun ruining someone else’s day. One approach  fosters learning and growth, and the other is…in a word…mean-spirited. (Okay, so it’s a hyphenated word. You get the idea.)

I just wanted to make my position clear on this, because I have mentioned here and there that I don’t do negative reviews any more, and I wanted to be sure you guys all understand that I do not mean I’m lying when I post a positive one. I’m just choosing to ONLY review books I enjoy. It’s a choice that lets me feel good, and hopefully makes someone else feel good, too.

Thanks for listening. As you were, folks! And happy reading!

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15 thoughts on “A Word About Negative Reviews

  1. I won’t lie about a review, but if something does bother me, I state it as constructively as possible. I round up by a half star too, which makes me feel better. No book is perfect, and no two readers see a book in the same way. Great policy to have, Marcia.

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    • Oh, I don’t mind mentioning it if there’s something that wasn’t my favorite part of a book. I agree, no book is perfect, after all. Well, not many, anyway. But if the book doesn’t warrant at least 3 stars from me, I’m going to pass it by and review something I liked better. I have been known to point out a scene that didn’t work for me, in a book I enjoyed overall, but it has to be a small enough issue that it doesn’t keep me from giving the book a good rating.

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  2. sourris25 on said:

    I have the same policy now, Marcia. For the same reasons.

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    • It feels better, doesn’t it? To be sharing a book you enjoy, even if there are small parts of it that weren’t your favorite moments, or characters you could do without. Still, if you enjoy the book, reviewing it is much more fun. And as I said, there are plenty of others out there who are happy to take on the negative stuff. I just don’t need it in my life, and I don’t need to be dumping it on someone else. Glad you see it that way, too. We might be the only ones. Who knows? 😀 But that’s okay with me, too. I don’t mind swimming against the tide.

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  3. Valentin on said:

    I don’t usually post reviews. If I wanted the author to know he/she’s done something bad, I’d try a less public way. That way, nobody feels insulted. I think
    any emotion that a book brings to the surface means the author did something right, made the reader feel something in regard to what’s being written – the worst (for me) would be for the reader to feel nothing. That being said, however, for me I have always shyed from writing reviews, good or bad, because once upon a time a “glowing” review I’ve written about a book I just loved (part of the Thrawn trilogy of Star Wars) made other readers think I was criticising the book. I shudder to think what they’d think of a critical review by me.
    Besides, I think promises when very happy and criticism when angry are usually kind of a bad idea.
    Tschuss.

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    • Valentin! Hi, my friend! (I owe you an email. Things have been crazy, so I hope you’ll forgive me for that!) I like your points of view, here. And they do make sense. I enjoy writing positive reviews too much to stop, though I don’t have time to review as much as I used to. Writing seems to eat up my days. But you make a good point about doing things under the “thrall” of emotions, one way or the other. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts today. It’s always good to hear from you, and I never did find out what you thought of Skin Game. We’ll have to talk about that via email, so you can tell me your honest opinion away from public eyes. 😀

      Hope you’ve been well! Looking forward to chatting with you again, and I do apologize for not emailing you sooner. I’m SO far behind on my email, you can’t imagine. 😦 But I’m working on it. Have a great day!

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  4. waldeneffect on said:

    I’ve never been big on negative reviews. Any book I like enough to finish, I like enough to give at least three stars to. After all, I read for pleasure — if I’m not having fun, I move on.

    I always wonder about the people who rate most of their books low. Do they hate reading? If so, why are they doing it? I think most of the low raters are actually wannabe writers thinking “I could do this better…”

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    • Very possible, Anna, at least for quite a few. I do know reviewers who leave lots of good reviews, as well as bad ones, but if they are just trashing what people have tried to do, I don’t read them any more. There’s a kinder way to offer criticism, I think. And even a kind (but low) review is painful, though I understand if done right, it can help a writer improve. I’m just not able to bring myself to be negative any more. I’ve lost all interest in that.

      I AM amazed that people will leave reviews for books they haven’t even read, or at least not very much of. Why? If I don’t finish a book, I certainly don’t want to review it. What if it was just a rough beginning, and then it turned into something wonderful, and all you had to do in your critique was say something like “this book started slow, but it built into a great story?” I did just that recently with a book that I HATED the beginning of, but enjoyed so much by the end, I gave it 5 stars.) So I guess another rule of mine is, if I don’t finish it, I’m not going to review it. I’m assuming the whole thing was bad, though I don’t know for sure, and it’s going to fall into that stack of books I’ll leave for someone else to complain about.

      And like you, I don’t usually finish a book that I’m not enjoying, the exception being a new series where I see potential. I’ll still usually give that a book or two to hit its stride, so to speak, but that’s all. And if it’s really bad…only worth 1 or 2 stars, I just can’t finish it. I’ve got so many books waiting for me, I don’t want to waste time on something really bad.

      All in all, if I don’t like it, I don’t finish it, and I don’t review it. If I stuck it through to the end for one reason or another, and still didn’t like it, I don’t review it. If it earned at least 3 stars from me, I’m good to talk about it and share it with others, even if I might mention a weak spot in my review. But the star level needs to be 3 at the very least, and preferably a 4 or 5. Just not interested in spending my time trashing the ones I hated. Someone else can do it.

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  5. That’s a great policy and one I try to do, as well. It’s interesting the way different people rate and review books—so subjective. I’ve just received my first ‘one star’ rating on Goodreads. At first, I thought ‘oh, no!’ but then when I clicked on her books, I saw that Anne of Green Gables, The Tale of Despereaux, and The Help also received one star ratings from this reader—looks like I’m in good company, after all!

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    • Hahaha. Yes, you are in good company, indeed. Funny, roughly the same thing happened to me with my one bad GoodReads rating of 2 stars. When I checked on the reviewer, I discovered that (at least at that time) most of his reviews were 1 star. So I felt exalted! 🙂 And the one bad one I have on amazon is from someone who didn’t read the book. OH, well. If you don’t get any bad reviews, it starts to look like you paid everyone to give you good ones.

      And truthfully, no author EVER wrote a book that pleased all readers. But I just don’t want to be part of the negative stuff any more. I think you tend to get back what you put out, so on the chance that’s really true, I’m trying to put out as much positive stuff as I can. That’s my theory, an’ I’m stickin’ TO it!

      Nice to see you here today this morning, Marcia! Have a great rest of the weekend.

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  6. I started typing a long reply that totally went off on a tangent, so I decided to post about it instead. 🙂

    But I like this policy.

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    • Thanks, Jen. It’s not for everyone, and I do understand that we can learn from negative reviews. But I see that being abused so often, it makes me cringe. Sometimes it even turns into a personal attack on the author. I think it can become a venue for people who just like to rant, or make themselves feel superior to others. But again, I’ve also read negative reviews designed to help a writer grow, and I’m okay with those. I just don’t want to write them myself. I want to sing the praises of authors and books I like, instead. I enjoy being positive these days. 🙂

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      • I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there: it’s the difference between pointless negativity and constructive criticism. One is good, the other is, well, pointless.

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        • And mean. There’s enough of that in the world without adding to it. I just read your blog post, btw, and just tweeted & FB’d it. (I’d reblog, too, but can’t find a button for that.) I love your way with words, Jen. Thanks for taking the time to comment here this morning. It took my mind off some mix-ups with my mother’s Medicare which were making steam come out of my ears. I put it away for now, and am thinking about nicer things. Like new writing friends, and all the wonderful books out there we can talk about in the weeks ahead. 😀

          Have a GREAT day! (And I’ll be doing my Monday giveaway shortly, if you’re interested in checking back. Last week was a lost cause, but I’m getting back on track today.)

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  7. Pingback: In which I review reviewing and my own reviews | Jen Rasmussen

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