Discussion: Why You Should Write Negative Reviews (And Some Tips on How to Do It)

I enjoy negative reviews. 

So a couple of days ago, Janel @ Keeper of Pages (she is amazing, and you should follow her everywhere possible) asked on Twitter whether or not she should post a negative (one star) review. And that inspired this discussion, so let’s talk about it.

I understand the anxiety over putting out negative reviews. You have to be thoughtful and you have to bear in mind that just saying “this is awful, I hate it” isn’t helping anybody. When you don’t like a book, there’s a lot of negative feelings involved. I get frustrated and annoyed and it’s difficult to push aside those emotions and write a thoughtful review. So it’s understandable to be anxious about it. I’ve talked before about low ratings and guilt. It’s a difficult thing to deal with.

A tip: Distance yourself from the book. Give it a bit of time, and then write your reviews. 

However, just because you don’t feel completely confident about putting that review out there, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Reviewing is all about honesty. If we’re ready to say all the things we loved about a book, why are we so reserved about saying the stuff we didn’t? If I read a review, I read it to gain a perspective on how that particular reviewer saw the book. But I make my own decisions. Negative reviews are just as informative as the positive ones. Or at least they should be. I want to see WHY something did or did not work for you. So not whether or not it did. But WHY

A tip: Focus on the facts. Give arguments to support your opinions. 

I think a lot of reservation for not putting out negative reviews comes from the fact that we don’t want to offend anybody. I’ve seen a lot of authors get really vocal about how negative reviews really hurt them. But here’s the thing: reviews are NOT for authors. They are NOT. They are meant for the readers and the publishers. If I were to write a book, I would never read reviews for it. They’re not meant for me. Moreover, you should focus on the people who enjoy your work, and don’t pay attention (or god forbid, contact) a person who doesn’t.

A tip: Be respectful. If you are focusing on the facts, and not just trashing the author, then you shouldn’t be worried. 

As I stated in the intro, I enjoy negative reviews. And I will explain that. I feel like when we like a book, we are very “fangirly” about it. It comes down to the writing is great, the characters are great, the plot is great. It’s all great. But when you write negative reviews, you focus on the specific things. You put in quotes that support your opinions, you point out different writing techniques the writer used and that didn’t work. There’s a lot more detail, and a lot more critical thinking in negative reviews and I personally enjoy that.

A tip: Don’t be afraid of negative reviews. That’s when your most critical, eloquent inner reviewer comes out. 

To finish this off, I’ll share with you two negative reviews that I think are really eloquent and really well put together and just overall great. Use them as an example. They are for books I personally didn’t like and they put it into words much better than I ever could.

First one is Elise’s review for Impulse. It’s a very harmful book in my opinion, that romanticizes mental illness, makes some really problematic decisions when it comes to LGBT people and just overall has a very stereotypical (and really problematic) views on some important topics. But read Elise’s review for a better review.

The other one is Marines’ review of Throne of Glass. I personally had a lot of issues with it, but even more issues with that whole fandom and the way they just hold that book on a pedestal and it’s not my thing. But you should watch Marines’ video to get a better (and more fun) understanding of it. And generally, if you’re struggling with negative reviews, you should look up to her.

So that’s it for this post! As always, I want to hear your thoughts! What are your opinions on negative reviews? Do you avoid them? Do you like them? Let me know!


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31 thoughts on “Discussion: Why You Should Write Negative Reviews (And Some Tips on How to Do It)

  1. I absolutely agree! Negative reviews are important. Not every book is going to work for everyone! But you need to do it without bashing the author and you need to have reasons WHY!! Sometimes when I’m not sure if I’ll pick up a book I look for reviews – and the negative ones are most important! They tell me if my worries are valid or not

    Liked by 2 people

  2. It’s always nice to have a broader spectrum when it comes to movies and books and things like that…Not just the gushy, lovey, review…but the other side of it…It makes the experience more complete…But just when the reviews are respectful and not hurtful or trying to damaged the author, the work or the reader who enjoyed it…I hate that.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love that the tweet inspired both of our blog posts today! I think it needs to be widely acknowledged and accepted that reviews for books you dislike are okay to removed the self-guilt attached to posting them and as long as you adequately explain, there shouldn’t be any backlash 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ah, negative reviews. So much truth in this post.
    I really enjoy reading negative reviews. If they aren’t balanced and well-written, then they’re at least going to be funny. I virtually never buy a product without reading the negative reviews.
    And yet, I, too, struggle to write negative reviews. Even when I feel pretty upset about the thing. I always think that my experience was a fluke, or that I’m going to be ruining somebody’s livelihood. 😛 I guess I need to toughen up a bit, because if something isn’t good, people should have a fair and accurate knowledge of that before they invest time and money.
    Excellent post!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. obsessed with this post! i seriously couldn’t agree more. i love reading positive reviews and all but honestly negative reviews are so much more fun! those people who get offended at negative reviews of their favorite books seriously just need to learn to handle opinions, tbh. but i love negative reviews, even if i love the book!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. thank you for mentioning me ❤ and yeah, I agree!! I think it's really important that people be allowed to write both negative and positive reviews without being attacked. We're a review community! We have to disagree.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oooh I love this post. I feel like there is a ton of anxiety surrounding negative reviews, especially for ARCs, because you get them for free? But you make such a good point- usually my negative reviews are more critical and well written than my gushing reviews. Maybe because I can usually pinpoint exactly what I don’t like but sometimes pinpointing what makes a book great is hard? Or it’s harder to give detail and back up your support for why you love something? But yes, people should not be afraid to negatively review as long as it is respectful and not attacking the author, but the book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely agree with you on ARCs, when I first started blogging, I was so nervous about negative reviews and not finishing ARCs. I have since realized that negative reviews are just as valuable to publishers. And yeah, I think it’s very hard to say what made the book AMAZING, but it’s easy to say what made it bad.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Definitely agree with this! Firstly, yes reviews are for the readers and publishers- not the author!! I do not personally believe the author should be reading all the reviews- it’s just not healthy and if I was in their position I wouldn’t want to read them (not because of avoiding criticism, but because at that stage it’s kinda irrelevant in terms of what you can learn for that book, since it’s already out in the world) And yes, I agree about focusing on the facts and that reviewers can have very interesting things to say about books they didn’t like (I personally find it easier than books I was meh about and for books I love it’s hard to move past all the squealing and jumping up and down 😉 ) Anyway- loved this post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This somehow ended up in my spam folder… 😑 I completely agree, if I wrote a book I wouldn’t read reviews because there’s just no point. And yes, whenever I write a positive review I am like “this was so well done” on and on, while with negative reviews I can be a lot more coherent 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m the same! Negative reviews seem to be easier to write in my opinion. But I know some reviewers find it really easy to hate a book, but for me it’s easier for me to like it which is why when I do feel strongly in a negative way about a book I jump at the chance to write a good review about it.

        Liked by 1 person

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