At this moment…
Setting: My office, dim overhead light on, sitting on my “writing chair” with my legs criss-crossed under me, a candle lit next to me
Listening to: Christmas music. Yes. I listen to Christmas music in October
Drinking: Ice-cold water
Eating: Well, I’m chewing on half a piece of delicious Ice Cube Arctic Grape gum that my lovely brother and sister-in-law bought me for my birthday
Doing: Writing a blog post and texting one of my sweet little friends
Thinking about: Book reviews and book reviewers
So, where did this post come from? A little while ago I received an email asking me if I was interested in reviewing a book. I was busy at the time so just glanced over the email and then forgot about it. A week later I saw it again, emailed back and soon had the book downloaded to my iPhone.
I proceeded to begin reading it. Began is the key word there, people. It didn’t take me long at all to realize that not only was this book not my style, but I didn’t agree with it. Even though the blurb sounded intriguing, the book… Well… I’m afraid I have nothing nice to say about the book. Which is really sad. If I had begun reading it from a store or a sample on Amazon, I wouldn’t have finished the first page.
Finally, since I had been contacted by an actual person instead of working though a website, I decided to let them know what I was thinking. Exiting out of my kindle I pulled up my internet and shot them a quick email saying basically “Hey, I’m 45% of the way through _____ and this isn’t my style. I’m afraid my review isn’t going to be positive at all and I was wondering what you would think if I stopped reading it and didn’t review it? Since I agreed to read and review it I will happily do so, so just let me know what you think…”
They emailed back and said sorry it wasn’t to my taste and it was fine with them if I didn’t finish it. So, I promptly thanked them, deleted the book and thought of how happy I was that they allowed me to not review their book. Ouch. Seriously, I mean that in the nicest way possible.
I really do not like writing negative reviews. Which is one of the reason I get such few free books to review. I’m an author. I know what it’s like to have someone who doesn’t like a book I’ve written. It kinda stinks. Have I written negative reviews? Yep. Check this one out, for instance. But there’s a right and a wrong way to write negative reviews, so I thought I’d let y’all know from an author’s prospective how a negative review should be written. 🙂
Alrighty. Just how should a negative review be written?
1. First off: by all means, if the book didn’t resonate with you then don’t hide that fact. Negative reviews are helpful to readers and I’m all in favor of them. I think that the exception should be if you get the book sent personally and you’re thinking “zero stars here”, then maybe you can ask about it like I did.
2. Write it respectfully. Tell about your problems with the book, not the author. I actually got this little tid-bit from this amazing blogger. An author is a person just like you and has probably poured years of their life into that story you didn’t enjoy. I know, I know, it seems like such an awful waste sometimes!
3. Avoid using “strong” language like never and absolutely and worst unless you feel very strongly haha that those words need to be in the review.
4. Don’t tag the author anywhere on social media in connection with your negative review. Again, I heard this hint from another blogger, but I forget who… You’re writing the review for the reader, not the author. There’s no reason for the author to get the negativity brought to their attention. Take it from me, we hear enough about what can be improved in our books without having it poured into our lives from a random stranger. Please don’t take that wrong!
5. When writing a negative review, don’t just say “This book was a huge waste of time and money” go ahead and let people know what your issues were with it. Nicely. Like “The battle scenes seemed rather unrealistic to me and the main character whined too much” or “There were quite a few typos and the blurb didn’t represent the book well” or… something like that anyway. You can even give a specific example if you want to take the time.
6. Try and find something nice to say about the book. If you can’t find anything that you liked about the book, maybe glance at Amazon and see what others have to say. For instance in the review I linked to up there^, I took a screenshot of the rating on Amazon because the book had a 4.5 star rating which is pretty amazing. So, even though I personally found nothing to like about the book, obviously others did.
7. Re-read the review before you post it and make sure it sounds polite.
There you have it, folks! Thank you for being considerate of us little authors who type away day in and day out. As Ernest Hemingway said: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”