Make Negative Reviews Cite the Reasons They’re Negative
Just saying a book is terrible or that it stinks is not a proper review.
Today just may be my day to be a grouchy old woman, but reading negative reviews of books written by my friends or my favorite authors aggravates the dickens out of me.
I think I’m so irritated partly because Amazon turned down my own review of a book today because “we are no longer taking reviews on this book”, without giving me warning. They could have told me that before I spent my time writing and polishing it.
After being told my review wouldn’t be published I started looking at other reviews. The scared and insecure little girl I still carry around in my head told me, “see, your review wasn’t good enough for them to publish on their platform.” I know, I know. I know that’s not the reason, (I’m often provided books to review and do it semi-professionally on other items) but still…that little criticized girl inside my head…well, you know. She takes control when I even think I’m being criticized. Does anyone else have one like her? I think she’s just part of my craziness but she is in my head like she always has been…telling me I’m not good enough. Mostly I can ignore her. But the least little thing can make her voice louder…like having one’s review rejected.
Not all writers can ignore their vicious inner critic; nevermind a bunch of mean-spirited so called-reviewers. Sometimes I don’t even think they’ve read the book. Just as people hurt each other physically, some want to hurt others
psychologically. Who knows what that discouraged ill-reviewed author might have contributed? Don’t review just to condemn. Was our work really bad, or did a reviewer get irritated, have a bad day, or step on a Lego?
When the review is something like, “it’s a horrible book.” or “I wish I’d never read it,’ how is the writer to take that? Why was it horrible? Why did you read it, then?
Anyway, (did you know that in certain parts of the country they have the charming habit of saying “anyways,” when they mean “anyway”)? But, anyway, what was I saying? Oh yeah, I’m sick of reading overall broad and not necessarily true negative reviews from folks who are just cruel.
Many of them are negative because the writer of the review missed the point of the book. Some reviews are written by people who can’t coherently cobble more than three words together. Where is their book? Just what I thought, they haven’t written a stinking book or anything beyond their mean reviews. A book’s sales can be horribly damaged by just one careless blanket dismissal or chop job. I try to always write a lot more positive in a review than negative. Every book has some value. I try to find it and comment on it along with any gentle criticism.
If the book is really terrible I put it down and don’t read it. I don’t force myself to read it so I can write a scathing review. Who does that? Mean reviewers, that’s who. It does real damage to people who don’t deserve it. Some people like to damage others. I mean, look at Trump….whoops. Nevermind.
I want to say to all those who delight in writing negative reviews, “where’s your book.” Surely they have one since they know so damn much about everyone else’s writing. The person they are shredding had the gumption to write a book. A whole book, and get it published on Amazon or by a publisher. That person is way ahead of whoever gets off on sitting around writing blanket negative reviews?
If you’re going to review a book, either tell what you loved about it and why, or what you disliked and why you didn’t enjoy the read. Usually, a book is neither all good nor all bad.
I know all books aren’t good. But there’s a difference between a review thoughtfully written to be constructive but not totally discouraging to the writer, and one that is meant to hit a nerve. When reviewing, it would be good to know there’s a hard-working writer on the other end of your review. Sometimes the old adage is the best wisdom — if you can’t say something nice, (maybe along with an honest criticism) it’s best not to say anything at all.
Having said all that, I’m getting less grouchy for the moment and hasten to say I’m not advocating everyone give every book a positive review, but it’s not necessary to drive an arrow through the writer’s heart to communicate the book was not what you hoped it would be when you bought it.