Bad Reviews: To Leave or Not to Leave

 I just read a post this morning by the wonderfully generous author, Tahlia Newland. She runs a site called Awesome Indies, and has done a lot to help boost awareness of indie writers. She talks in this post about grappling with whether or not she should write negative reviews for books she does not like, or whether she should keep her thoughts to herself where that is concerned. I have talked briefly about the importance of reviews in an earlier post, but I will give you some additional thoughts on the subject.

Let’s start by being honest, the ONLY people who sit and debate the nuances of reviews and whether or not fake 5-star reviews skew the entire credibility of the book review system are authors and people in the publishing industry. The typical reader does not sit there biting their fingernails and wondering if the review is genuine or not…nor to they likely care. **you gasp** What? How could they not care? They are being deceived by someone’s grandmother in Terre Haute!

Unless an author has 200 first cousins, each with their own Amazon account, how many fake 5-star reviews can they realistically generate to uproot the system and convince people to buy their books? Consumers are not as stupid as people want to think, and good quality books will rise to the top regardless. Reviews matter, and it’s my opinion that if you are a writer, and someone reaches out to you and tells you they truly enjoyed your book…you should (kindly) ask them to leave a review.

But back to the topic of Tahlia’s article. Should we as authors write bad reviews about other peoples work, or should we stay mum and be supportive? I think you should do whatever the hell you want, but I’ll tell you what works for me. Here is what’s posted on my Goodreads author page regarding reviews:

About books I review...
I am an author, so I appreciate the value of a 5-star review. I know that those stars mean more to an author than they do to me as the reviewer who's doling them out. That being said, if I like a book at all, chances are I'm going to give it 5-stars. However, in the detailed description of my review is where I will attempt to explain what I actually thought of the book, so people can get a better idea of exactly how much I liked or loved it.

If I did not enjoy a book, or was unable to finish it, I simply will not review it. I have no interest in bashing anyone else's hard work.

I’m not saying everyone should adopt this same practice, what I’m saying is that it doesn’t really matter that much what we as individual authors want to do. The bottom line is (going back to the point I made earlier), the typical reader would NEVER even think of applying this thought process to their reviews. They are going to leave whatever the hell is on their mind when they finish the book…and I’ve seen some real doozies. Authors, who are fortunate enough to have books that are read by many people, could never control the reviews no matter how hard they try. Reviews by honest readers will always prevail. Poorly written novels and books that are littered with bad grammar and hideous formatting will be called out - you better believe it. It just doesn’t feel right to me to be the one to do it.

I’m comfortable with the ‘if you haven’t anything nice to say, say nothing at all’ mantra.

Please feel free to comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject!

1 comment:

  1. I try not to leave bad reviews, if I read a book that I'm not too fond of, I usually don't review it at all. If I have a love/hate relationship with the book, I try to pick out all the things I liked about the book, but mention one or two things I wish the author would've done differently. I'm majoring in Screenwriting at school, and I know what it feels like to have someone rip apart your writing/hard work, and it's not fun. I make sure my reviews are honest, but not to the point where it'd disrespect the author and their work!!