Monday, 11 March 2013
Why I Don't Post Negative Reviews
This is a post I've been considering writing for absolutely ages, but kept holding off on for various reasons. Inspired by a post by Laura Lam (go buy her book Pantomime, by the way, it's AMAZING, then read the great interview she took part in here) and another one from Readers' Wonderland, I finally got round to doing it.
Over at Reader's Wonderland, the piece is about negative reviews and not being afraid to write them. I agree with the piece in general, but the particular bit I'm interested in isn't the piece itself (although it's well worth reading!) but one of the questions asked at the end.
"How do you feel about blogs that only post five star reviews? Do you doubt them?"
To some extent, that applies here. I don't give star ratings, but I only really post positive reviews. That's not to say I only write positive reviews - head over to the Bookbag and you can see me being scathing about various novels, including one book which I summed up with a quote along the lines of "Two men have a miserable time. Three, including this reader." That said, I choose not to post the negative ones here, because I'd much rather concentrate on giving out praise to the wonderful books out there - and there's a lot of them - than criticism to those which, for whatever reason, I didn't enjoy.
In addition to the Bookbag reviews I repost as part of my Sunday Spotlight, I also review others. However, they're rarely (almost never, at the moment) review copies. Most of the Thursday reviews I post here (when I get round to posting reviews, anyway!) are of books I get from the library, or buy. I've requested, and been accepted to view, only one book on NetGalley this year, and got a hard copy of a review book from a publisher - both of these are from authors I'm confident I'll enjoy. In both cases, if I don't enjoy them, I'll politely decline to review. When it comes to library books or books I've bought, if it's a good book, I want to share the love with everyone. If it's a bad one, I already feel I've wasted enough time reading it without spending another hour or so churning out a review! Does that mean some people will look at my blog, see only positive reviews, and decide that I'm not to be trusted? Quite possibly, but when it's a choice between doing that or wasting my time writing reviews of books I just want to forget, I'll go with that. I tweeted asking book bloggers what percentage of their total reading did they end up reviewing, and was stunned that nearly everyone who replied was over 80% - mine is barely at 50%.
I'd always assumed that authors wouldn't particularly want negative reviews posted, anyway, but I'm questioning that assumption after reading Laura Lam's excellent post on how to help authors.
She says in it "For a debut, there is no bad publicity (even if the bad reviews can hurt our sensitive little hearts if we stumble across it)".
What do you think, authors (particularly debut authors?) Would you rather people were talking about your book even if they didn't enjoy it, or would you prefer it to go unreviewed by people who didn't like it? (Assuming no-one's crass enough to go out of their way to direct you to a negative review - I think most of us will agree that tweeting or e-mailing an author and linking to a review criticising their book isn't a good thing to do.) Bloggers, do you post negative reviews? And what percentage, roughly, of books you read do you end up reviewing?
I'd love to get a good discussion going here, so please share your thoughts in the comments below!