Thursday, January 1, 2015

Don't Be Negative

I loathe negative book reviews. I'm not sure if it's because I dread the day I might get one (the goal eventually is, after all, to be published), or the comments that follow these reviews. They often go something like this.

'Thanks for the review. Was going to buy but it sounds like a waste of money.'

'Sounds awful. So thankful it wasn't in at the library today- I would have gotten it out.'

'Was just about to buy. Thanks for the warning. Won't waste my time and money.'

Here is why, as an aspiring author, book lover and a generally open minded person, these reviews and following comments get to me. I just want to say though, after all this, that it is important to be honest about what you thought of a book.

1. I consider it incredibly rude to review a book by pointing out everything negative about it. I have always been told to sandwich these things. You write something nice, then what you didn't like, then something nice and so forth. And, as you learnt (hopefully) as a child, if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.

2. You are showing a lack of knowledge about writing and authors. This book isn't something to completely trash. Someone came up with the idea, and loved it enough to put it into words. They have poured hours upon hours into it, they have handed you a piece of them, the inner workings of their mind. Every book, not matter how badly written, or how much you disliked it, is a labour of love.  Don't abuse the trust an author gives to the readers when they hand their book over to the world.

3. You are one person. We are all wired differently, we all enjoy different things. Just because you didn't like a book doesn't mean you should influence others to swing the same way. Instead of suggesting they 'don't waste their time' on it, instead say 'you know what, I didn't enjoy it, but thats me. Give it a try, and tell me what you think.'

4. People who read negative reviews and decide not to read the book. You make my head shake in shame. You also make me angry. How can you read negative reviews and decide, therefore, this book isn't for you? If you read a positive review first, do you buy/read the book? You are not the reviewer: take what they say on board, read the book, and make your own mind up. You don't need someone to do that for you.

5. Reading one negative (or positive) review, and making your mind up on that one review is so close minded that I can't even deal with it. You make my jaw drop. And not many things can do that.

So before you write a negative book review, or verbally trash a book, stop and think. Do you need to be so negative? Can you add in more positives? Would you say these things to the authors face? Would you want someone to say this about your writing? Is it really necessary to make everyone who follows your Goodreads account also hate a book?
And if you are reading a review: be open. Don't decide not to read a book because of what some said (unless they said it contained inappropriate material. Then I grant you the chance to skip it). Make your own mind up.

Find that balance of gently pointing out what you personally didn't like, but the things you did like as well. If you can't find that balance, then leave it, move on, find a book you like. Until then, I'm taking your review with a grain of salt, and I'm sending you my INTJ death stare.

And on that note,
                             au revoir,
                                             dear readers.

(I grant you full permission to disagree with me).


  1. very true, if we could be a little more positive, it would make everyone happier :)
    Happy New Year!!! (is it different in NZ, from, say, like the US?)

    1. Happy New Year! I don't know :) There's fireworks, we have a glass of wine or something then go back to work a week later :)

  2. I agree! There is always something good to say for any book. I really like the sandwich method, because it lets me be honest about things that I saw as downfalls without completely bashing the book. When (or if) people review my books, I want them to be able to honestly say if something was disappointing to them, but I don't want them to bash the whole thing and ignore all the good over maybe one thing they perceived as bad.

    1. Absolutely agree with you! The sandwich method is gold :)

  3. A little bit of an awkward moment when, to some degree, I disagree. I've written negative reviews before, and I think I was justified in doing so. Reviews are for the readers, not the writers, and sometimes there are things I wouldn't wish on my fellow readers, and so I say so. I'm not one to completely destroy a work on Amazon or try to convince everyone something isn't worth reading, but in most cases I appreciate negative reviews a little bit more than positive reviews since the latter usually say nothing of importance to me when I'm thinking about buying something. I understand what people say when they mean a "labor of love," but unless your labor of love is worth the nine dollars I'm putting into it I'd really rather not buy it.

    I do agree, though, that we shouldn't be out to kill someone's writing. There's no reason to be unkind, or make statements about an author's mother or anything like that. But I also find it really important to note disappointments and failures...

    Yeah. Sorry INTJ. *ISTJ shrug*

    1. Haha I thought you might. I guess in the end, my point is that the point of a review is not to convince others that a book is terrible to read. It is to express your personal ideas about what worked and what didn't.
      What started the idea of this post was a book review that listed all the negatives of a book, and told readers not to bother- and people were saying that if the reviewer didn't like it, then they wouldn't.
      I also read negative reviews before the positive ones. However, in the end, if I'm not sure, I'll try to get the book from the library instead.
      Most negative book reviews, I don't have a problem with. It's the ones that go overboard to the point where they can't even say something nice that bother me :)

    2. XD Sorry.

      On that note, I think we're on the same page. We don't really have the authority to tell people what to buy or not to buy, we just have the authority to remark on our own experiences and expand on what we liked (or didn't) about that experience.

      But yeah, it's not the opinion, it's the style, which actually goes for all reviews...

  4. Very good post, Wild Horse! Thank you for sharing! :)
    Happy New Years! :)

    1. Welcome!
      Happy new year to you too! :)

  5. I agree! While it's okay, and in fact, good, to mention the things that you didn't like in a book (if any) in a review, it is NOT okay to bash authors. I like to keep my book reviews mostly positive although I often have a complaint sandwiched between compliments. Another thing that I never do is say negative things about the author. I may say positive things about the author such as "the author completely pulled me into the story with her beautiful writing" but I never say negative things about the author like "the author clearly does not know how to write multidimensional character". I might say something like that, but never using the author's name.

    I think being a writer myself really helps me to be more considerate when writing reviews. I know how much work writing a book is and I've only written one and a half first drafts. I have put so many hours into these drafts and I know that published authors have to put even more hours into their books because they've edited, revised, queried and marketed their books. Honestly, if I was rating books based purely on the amount of effort required to write on, I would rate them all five stars.

    1. Author bashing is something I really dislike. From my point of view, the author has done their best job on the book. The sandwiching method is a great way to be honest about what you thought :)

      So would I! I'm quarter of the way through editing one of my first drafts, and it's no easy job!