Should Authors Write Bad Book Reviews?

As a writer who also posts reviews, I’m usually careful about the feelings of other writers, but should I be posting reviews at all? Should I get rid of my ‘reviewer’ hat once and for all? Read Kristen Lamb’s blog post and let me know what you think.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Okay, yesterday we had a little bit of a debate about leaving book reviews. First of all, the post is to warn you of the dangers of posting bad reviews as an author. Does it mean you can’t? No. Can you tweet while drinking and listening to LinkinPark? Yes, but you do so at your own risk. Same here. I am not the social media gestapo, but I am here to warn you of the hazards that are REAL.

We Never Know Who People Know

I once commented offhandedly to an acquaintance about a book I was reading. I wasn’t nasty, I just mentioned that I found it confusing and the dream sequences were messing me up. I also added that it could be me. I WAS seven-months pregnant, so I added the caveat that it could just be Baby Brain.

Little did I know the acquaintance was BEST…

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7 thoughts on “Should Authors Write Bad Book Reviews?

  1. I read a lot of books, and write a lot of reviews. I appreciate how much work goes into writing a book, so I always try to highlight the positive aspects in my reviews. I say ‘try’ as it’s not always possible! From a writer’s point of view, personally, what I want most is to improve. And I’ve learned far more from negative reviews than positive ones.

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    • I try to do the same when I write reviews. When I got my first negative review on The Claiming Words, it didn’t hurt nearly as much as I expected. The reviewer was professional and there was merit to what she had to say. I appreciate any review that points out where I’ve gone wrong. It helps me improve my craft.

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  2. I think, to add to what cmsaunders said, there is a difference between a bad book review and a negative book review. A negative book review just did not agree with all parts of the book, and is able to point out how the writing could have been improved. A bad book review just bashes the book and the author without even giving reasons as to why there are such strong feelings towards the story/creator. Critical book reviews are not fun to read from a writer’s standpoint, but they do help the author improve (granted that the author is willing to read and reflect). They may also prove useful to other writers who read the reviews and learn how the public responded.
    –JW

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  3. Now that is a tricky question… I write book reviews on goodreads and I try not be to harsh on the author. I also try to be honest with my reviews.

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  4. Like you, Tricia, I followed Kristen Lamb’s posts on that topic with interest. I tend to be blunt in my words, so the posts encouraged me to be kinder, more understanding, and less “writerly” when I am saying what I believe needs to be told. I think ultimately, I disagreed with her point for two major reasons.

    1. The readers. I’m a reader as well as a writer. Yes, I see things most readers wouldn’t. For the most part I agree with Kristen that points of technique and typos don’t need to be in a review. However, if there are egregious errors and I can’t engage with the book as a reader, that needs to be said. Kindly. Reviews are driving purchases. Even free books come with a cost–our time. I’ve taken a pass on several free books that have extremely poor reviews. Alternately, I’ve purchased books with 2 and 3 star reviews when the reviewer disliked something I generally like. If we only write good reviews, how can we be honest?

    2. Kristen’s motivation for not writing bad reviews seemed to have some of its basis in fear. She tells a story of an off-hand remark that caused an author to HATE her (caps are KL’s). Her comment had been honest and couched in gentle terms. Some people cannot take criticism of any stripe. I’m not sure we need to take on their problem as our own.

    Yeah, it hurts when someone writes a bad review. I’ve gotten more than my fair share lately in my alternative persona. However, I’m continually amazed at the generosity and kindness of most readers. I responded to a thoughtful negative review on Amazon with respect and understanding. She had a good point. The reviewer came back and said she’d bought my next book because of my response.

    I’m continually working on my craft. As others have said, reviewers can provide important perspectives to help me improve.

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