March 18, 2011

Alex's Opinion: Negative Reviews

A lot of bloggers have been fretting recently about whether or not it is okay to post negative reviews. For some, they don't want to upset authors. For others, they are hoping to be authors one day and don't want to ruin potential relationships with people in the industry. 

I review every book I read, whether I like it or not. The majority of my reviews are positive. The reason they are mostly positive is that I read books I feel like reading. If I don't think I would like a book, I won't read it. Plain and simple. If I get sent a book I know I won't like, I send it to someone who might like it more. And I post negative reviews. I don't beat around the bush if I really don't like a book, mostly because I want readers of my blog to know I am an honest person. I haven't had anyone confront me about negative reviews, and I hope that people respect me for being honest.

When it comes to authors, I usually become "friends" with them after reading their book. Obviously, after I read and like their book. Otherwise, why would I want to talk to them in the first place? So I am not really worried about hurting the feelings of authors. 

I do want to be published one day, and I admit that I freaked out when I read all the blog posts about how bloggers will never be able to be published because they have ruined all chance of friendship or business relationships with authors, agents, editors, etc. in the book industry. I think this is false. For one, there are so many published authors that were once, and sometimes still are bloggers. Emma Michaels and Julie Kagawa are a couple that come immediately to mind. I read books similar to what I write, and I like that kind of book. So back to what I said earlier, chance is that if I did review a book from an author that would blurb my book or an agent or editor that would represent it, I probably reviewed it positively. Because I like the kind of books I read, review, and write. And that's that.

EDIT: In fact, I think that publishers and agents like to see negative reviews. That way, they can know what not to publish/represent in the future.

So, if you are one of those bloggers who think they should quit blogging or never post a negative review, I don't necessarily agree with you, but I'm not going to tell you that you have to post negative reviews. Some people don't just because they don't see a point in reviewing a book they didn't like. For me, I review every book I read. No exceptions.


  1. Excellent post! I think you're totally right to say that publishers and agents like negative reviews. I know that authors encourage them as well because they offer credible feedback. Reviews provide opportunities to learn and grow, whether they're good or bad.

    Btw, congrats on the 1200 followers!

  2. I don't post many reviews for books I absolutely hate because I usually stop reading in the middle and don't really like to review a book I haven't finished reading - though I will sometimes write a short comment on Goodreads about why I didn't finish. But I do write honest reviews for books I thought were mediocre, or not awful but just not that good. I think negative reviews can be very helpful when choosing what to read - in fact I've even read and enjoyed books thanks to negative reviews because the things the reviewer said he/she disliked about the book were things I like in a book!

  3. Well written post! I was wondering about the "negative" review controversy among bloggers.

    I think writing negative reviews is a good thing because:

    1- If you're a blogger/reviewer you should be HONEST with your reviews. If you read a book that you didn't like, then go ahead and put in your review why you didn't like it. Readers of your reviews deserve to know your honest opinion.

    2- If you stated in your review policy that you are honest with your reviews and you will state if a book is positive or negative, then you didn't do anything wrong. Publishers can't shun you nor can authors. There will always be good and bad feedback.

    Stating your opinion shouldn't ruin your chances in networking in the publishing world.

    It's really stupid.

  4. Like Rebecca I am not put off reading a book because of negative reviews. It sometimes makes me even more intrigued to find out WHY others don't like it. I've not been blogging long but like you I do not shy away from writing negative reviews. I feel that's why I blog. To let people know what I thought of the books I read - good and bad. At the end of the day everyone has different tastes in literature so just because 10 bloggers hated it doesn't mean that the next 10 who read it will hate it too. I'm waffling. It's bedtime. Night!

  5. Congrats on the 1200 followers! Great "Alex's Opinion"!

    It's good to know that reviewers are being honest and will stick to their beliefs about the books they read. It's why I visit your site every day!

    Would hate to think your reviews were altered because you were afraid it would affect your writing career some day.

  6. I agree.

    I don't post a lot of negative reviews for the same reason; because usually if it's a book I think I'll like, I usually at least kind of like it. I've posted negative reviews before, although I haven't posted any reviews that are flat out mean because I've never thought that way and because I don't want anyone to be upset, if it's negative, I'm constructive about it, and say why I did/didn't like it; those elements that I didn't like might make someone else's favorite book! I also don't generally rate books anymore because I'm finding it harder to be able to combine all my feels into a certain amount out of 5 stars.

  7. I agree that book bloggers should feel comfortable posting reviews for books they love and for books they don't care for too.

    Isn't that the whole idea behind a review in the first place? You tell what you liked and did not like about the book - how it made you feel - if you recommend it.

    I guess someone could only actually post the reviews of the books they liked. That would still be honest, but it seems a little odd.

  8. I couldn't agree with you more. I used to worry about this kind of stuff when writing reviews on my own blog. I would hold back a lot. Then I realized there is a difference between being mean and being honest. I like negative reviews actually. Before I buy any book I go on Amazon and read a few postive reviews and a few negative ones. It gives me a broader picture of what to expect before I pick up a book. I mean, sometimes what one person finds to be negative, I find to be postive. People are always dissing a book if it's too "twilight-like" but to me that automatically makes me want to go buy it.
    I enjoy your reviews Alex--positive or negative--so keep doing what you're doing.

  9. Definitely agree, Alex. I'm the same way - I make sure to only review and read books I think I'll enjoy, although sometimes I do end up reading ones I dislike or that disappoint me.

    Negative reviews can be helpful, as long as you write about what and why you didn't like it. It's something that the author can grow from, and then they can write a kick*#* book in the future!

  10. No one has ever written a book and thought ‘this is awful, but I'm going to publish it anyway’. In their hearts, they honestly believe it is great. Actually, their fondness for the story may be more about the fact that they have embodied their father's most endearing characteristics or their mother's unconditional love in one of the characters. Because they love their family members and those same family members are woven into their story, they love it and its characters. The problem is they assume everyone will.

    There can also be a situation where the writing, the story, or the characters are not endearing no matter how hard you try to read the book. Fortunately, the same writing, story, characters could strike a chord with another reader to the point where that reader becomes a fan for life.

    The bottom line is that there is absolutely nothing wrong with an honest opinion. It must be provided in a respectful and constructive manner...a manner meant to help not hurt. Anyone writing a book should be prepared to hear the reader’s feedback, even if it’s hard for them to come to the realization that no one likes it as much as they do. If they are not, they should keep the book to themselves.

  11. I would just contact the author first, and tell them I didn't like the book they wrote, even let them read the review, and give them the final decision if the review will be published on my blog. That way, I don't embarrass them if they don't want what I wrote up for all the world to see...

    It's just what I think I would do, if I were a book blogger...

  12. This is a great post! I'm glad to know that I'm not alone when it comes to posting negative reviews from time to time.

  13. Wonderful post, well thought out and so true. We book bloggers tend to read what we like, so it only makes sense that we would post mainly positive reviews. A negative one here and there only shows that you are being true to your OWN thoughts and opinions - which everyone is entitled to.

  14. Cat - yes I try to do the same say what it is I didn't like. I once read a negative review of a historical romance complaining that the romance was too innocent/sweet/sappy and there wasn't any sex. As a result of that review I read the book and loved it because that's my favorite kind of hiostircal romance!

  15. well said and btw, I love the new image of your Blog! =)

  16. I didn't have time to read through all the comments, so I don't know if anyone has already said this:

    There is a difference between posting a negative review and just being a total asshole.

    And I think that is what people mean when they talk about how negative reviews could hurt a bloggers chances at being published by burning bridges they may want to cross in the future.

    When I post negative reviews (or any of the blogs I follow post negative reviews), they're done fairly.

    They basically say "this book wasn't really my kind of thing, I liked this part but I didn't like these bits and it stopped me from enjoying the book" - something like that, where they say they didn't like it, explain why but make it clear that it's just their opinion and maybe another person will love it because opinions are subjective.

    Authors and publishers and agents and editors may not be thrilled about getting negative reviews, but as far as I know, they don't get mad or too upset about them.

    But then there are some people who basically just flame the book. They get all angry and offensive in the review and sometimes turn it into a personal attack on the author (like, someone who didn't like Sisters Red apparently posted a review saying that Jackson Pearce was victim blaming because of something one of the characters said).

    There's someone on goodreads who posts reviews and even just the tag/shelf names that she files her reviews under are uncalled for (like "I read this book so you don't have to" - and that was one of the nicer ones she had listed).

    So yeah, basically, there's a difference between a negative review and a flame and it's flames that can hurt someones chances at being published.

  17. I love reading negative reviews because it gives me a different perspective. I admit that people who write them do make good points... I even read the negative reviews (especially on goodreads) for books I really loved.

    I honestly feel the need to write a negative review if I didn't like something. As a reader, I will feel disappointed if I had high hopes and it's my way of getting out that frustration. Not everyone can love a book.

  18. I think it's a misconception that posting a negative review will hurt some future career.

    As a writer, I've read negative reviews of my work on blogs. If the negative review is thoughtful and makes valid points, I have no problem with it. In fact, I've had meaning conversations with some of those bloggers.

    The real issue is bloggers who write negative reviews that are thoughtless and don't explain their point of view. There are also many who bring their negative review of the book into a personal attack on the writer. These are the reviews that really bother us writers.

  19. This is a great post. I for one feel/agree that reviewers should feel like that they can post a negative review. Really I think reviewers should. I don't like every book I read and I like reading other blogs/sites who post about books they love and the ones they don't. There's been times I've loved a book others didn't like and other times many people loved a book I didn't. For me it's fascinating to see what it is people love and don't like about certain books.

    What I disagree with is the bashing. There's a different between writing a negative review and bashing the author or the book. I've read quite a few reviews lately that went beyond being negative, they were just out right hateful. I'm not a writer, but for me I would take that as a personal attack. Negative reviews can be well written and not have a trace of hate in them.

  20. Well, I'm bored to tears by most positive reviews out there. When did this ban on having an actual opinion came around? Because I don't consider 'positive only' attitude an honest opinion of a critical mind - in most cases book blogs are collections of sugared sales pieces mistakenly labeled 'reviews'.

    My cynical persona hastens to add that if someone publishes according to the positive only rule, they are either sold out or bloody stupid. I'm glad you seem to be neither.


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