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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