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Discussion Post: How I Write Negative Reviews

 

I had set as one of my blogging goals for this year to write more discussion posts, so here’s my first attempt for 2017…

Writing negative reviews is my least favorite part about being a book blogger.  Seriously, is there anything worse than settling in to read what you hope will be a fantastic book, only to find yourself disappointed?  But I do pride myself on writing honest reviews, so if I have to write a negative review, I have a few rules that I try to follow. I won’t even go so far as to call these tips or suggestions.  I’m a Libra and I’m all about being fair and balanced, and these are simply the steps I take to try to achieve the balance I’m looking for while writing those dreaded negative reviews.

 

  1. Be Honest but Still Respectful.  Maybe it’s the Libra in me, but no matter how much I dislike a book, I’m just not one who is going to write a scathing negative review.  I try to always remember who my potential audience might be – fellow readers, authors, publishers, etc. – and write in a tone that I feel will be honest yet still professional as I point out why a book just didn’t work for me.
  1. Be Constructive with Criticism. Don’t just rage about how much I hate it. I always try to keep in mind when I’m reviewing that just because a book wasn’t for me, that doesn’t mean others won’t love it.  There are many times when I don’t connect with a book for whatever reason, yet I can see that it has thousands and thousands of 4 and 5 star reviews on Goodreads.  Clearly there are plenty of readers out there who don’t share my quirks and personal preferences when it comes to certain books.  That said, if I think one of my criticisms is stemming from one of my own personal quirks, say maybe my hatred of love triangles, I’m quick to point that out in my reviews (i.e. “It might just be me who has a problem with this…”).  Sometimes I’ll even go a bit further and suggest a way that it could have been presented so that I might have enjoyed it more.
  1. Offset the negatives with a few positives, if possible. Even if I really disliked a book, I try to come up with a few positive things to say about it.  I think this is a carryover from my teaching days. My students were always more open to what I had to say about their writing if I was able to point out strengths as well as weaknesses.  Plus, again, just because a book isn’t for me doesn’t me another reader won’t love it.  I also usually start my reviews with what I did like about a book before I launch into the negatives. I prefer the tone that sets rather than starting with the negatives and then saying “But wait…not everything about this book sucked. I did like a couple of things.”
  1. Be Careful with Tagging. I don’t typically tag authors when I post my reviews on social media anyway, but I definitely will not tag them if I didn’t like their book.  For me, tagging them would be like saying “Hey, I really hated your book and I want to make sure you know that!”  If authors come across my negative review on their own, fine, but I just don’t go out of my way to shove it in front of their faces.

There you have it, folks. Do you follow any of these steps or have any tips you’d like to share on handling those dreaded negative reviews?