Musings of Rickus: Writing negative reviews.

Sometimes we all have to write that one review. You know which one I’m talking about.

The dreaded negative review. The one where you disliked a book so much you can’t even try to be nice about it.

I know that there has been some controversy about authors dealing with bad reviews. Some bloggers have been asked to take down negative reviews or have had them flagged on sites like Goodreads or Amazon (I am not one of those bloggers). To me, that is absolutely ridiculous. Authors can either choose to ignore the negative reviews or if they are constructively critiquing the book perhaps use that critique to improve their next book. An example of an author who did this is Katrina Sisowath, who had many reviewers saying that her debut book didn’t have enough dialogue. She listened, and the next book was then a good balance between text and dialogue.

As an author, you have to be prepared to deal with less flattering reviews. Not everybody can like your book and they have the same right as everybody else to express their dislike. Even books that seem universally loved have bad reviews. It’s a part of life. I can understand why authors might get super offensive when it comes to negative reviews. That book is probably their baby, something they’ve worked on for years and care deeply about. But negative reviews, just like negative critique is a part of life. If I’ve never gotten a bad grade or a some negative yet constructive critique in my life, I never would have improved.

However, there is a fine line between critiquing the book and critiquing the author. That is rule 101 of reviewing. You DO NOT review the author in any way. You might mention an apprehension to reading the book and fearing you’ll not like it because you are sort of chummy with the author on Twitter. That is all cool. But you never personally attack the author in your text.

Well this book obviously sucked because the author is stupid.

That is an example of something you should not write (this is made-up btw, but I don’t doubt there are actual quotes like this). Leave the author out of it and focus on the book. Also, try to be smart about your bad reviews. Write why you didn’t like them and perhaps give examples from the book showcasing this. I am personally notoriously bad when it comes to this but I try to at least say what it was about the book that I didn’t like (characters, language, plot etc.)

Be sure to focus on the book and not the author and those negative reviews will be easier to write.

Happy blogging you guys!

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