Let’s Talk About #BookReviews Day 4

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We are well over half way through “Write a book review on Amazon ” month and this week I’ve been supporting the campaign with some book reviewing themed posts.

Readers reviewers

At some point in book reviewing everyone will come across a book they really didn’t like, could you still write a review and how could you write it?

Negative and Bad Reviews

I can guarantee this is going to cause a scene.

So what do you do if you really didn’t like a book? People who slam a book and its author publically are often called Book Trolls. Like wise authors who have fans who bully anyone who dares to post a low star rated review, are also connected to the troll label. I suspect this is one of the top reasons why people fear to post a review and it damages the industry as a whole.

Firstly put yourself in the shoes of an author, someone who has toiled hard over their book, you don’t know the mountains they’ve climbed to get this far. Personal, physical, emotional mountains, how would you feel if this was your life’s work?

So you can still write a review, it will be challenging. Find points that you did like, perhaps the overall story, a strong character, a funny moment. You might have liked the first chapter, perhaps it was full of promise, even if it all went down hill from there, still say what you liked.

You can say things didn’t work for you like a fight scene or a love scene. Or you had trouble picturing the mystery building. Some fantasy and sci-fi books need to really make the reader understand new imaginary planets and realms. I once read a book which read like an arcade game with characters leaping from level to level in huge cavernous spaces, it felt 2-D and I longed for depth in the form of the descriptions and the senses, like smell and hearing.

My best advice for a book you don’t like, is LESS IS MORE. If I wrote my favourite character was the mother-in-law and she had a minor part in the book, then I’m hoping the author might pick up that the main characters hadn’t hit the mark. If I said I really like the first three chapters, then there is a hint that the rest of the book may not have lived up to my expectations. If you’ve struggled to write perhaps 10 lines then there probably wasn’t much that made you jump up and down, leave a shorter review.  However you still haven’t been rude about the book.

Ultimately the top LESS is MORE tip. If you can’t find anything nice to say don’t say anything at all. A no review speaks volumes. If you’ve been asked to write a review and really feel you can’t, be polite and say the book wasn’t for you. If you bought the book and didn’t like it, move on there are billions more books out there.

Reading Original

A little note to authors.

All authors who put there work out in the public eye, cannot reasonably expect every single person to like their work. We all read a book differently and a range of book reviews and their star ratings is a healthy thing on review sites. I do understand the hours spent on creating a book and often the author is so attached to their work that they cannot stand, that anyone might not love it as they do and see it as they wrote it.

I’ve come across authors who want to disagree with a book review and try to “heavily suggest” that the reader can’t possibly have read the entire book, if they didn’t enjoy, “the romance between the characters”, or they didn’t comment on the brilliant ending. You can’t tell someone how they should read your book.

I have an author who came back to me several times in the last year, to tell me how brilliant some other readers have thought his work, he doesn’t tell me about the other readers who gave it a 3* review as I did, instead he is insistent that I couldn’t have read the book as it was intended, that I “didn’t get it” and I feel he is trying to wear me down, either to withdraw my review or to reconsider. Nope, nada, not happening, don’t do this authors, it makes you look petty and word gets around the book community that you are to be avoided.

Minstrel Loveheart

Tomorrow I shall be looking at my book community.

Catch up with posts from:
There’s still time to join the #AugustReviews campaign.
1) Write a review for a book you’ve read,
2) Post it on Amazon,
3) Tweet the URL of the Amazon review and add #AugustReviews and @TerryTyler4
4) Not on Twitter? No Problem, send me the link using the contact form above and I’ll send it on to Terry, she’ll get it up on her Halls of Fame.
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41 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About #BookReviews Day 4

  1. Excellent post Rosie, and so helpful as it is very hard to write a negative review. However I had one recently that I thought I’d share here as it is a superb example (I think) of a reader’s less then enamoured view of my book. The reader said she couldn’t give it more than 2*’s because of the use of the F word and the descriptive sex scene. It was short, well written and for me, useful, as it did exactly what reviews are meant to do and that is inform the reader. Anyone else who has a similar dislike for such things in books will pass on by and go and find something else to read. Job done.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Oh for goodness sake, they really said that, about the lack of intelligence? How infuriating. Um, no, it’s called realism – in life, people swear….

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    • That’s a really crap reason for giving the book 2*, Georgia – a bit like me saying ‘I’m giving this book 2* because I don’t like chick lit’. Yeah, yeah, I know people have every right to do so, but it still sucks! BUT, as you say – yes, from a reader’s POV, it is very useful. Like when reviews complain about bad grammar. I know not to go near the book 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well if it stops others from picking it up and then complaining about the same then it works for me 🙂 I was more annoyed that they said the use of the F word showed a lack of intelligence…er, no, time and place people and also that thing called characterisation. People do actually use the F word in real life…just saying…

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  2. You know I have strong feelings about this – I do think, though, that if a book is badly written (ie, information heavy dialogue with all the characters talking in the same way, bad continuity, lack of feasibility, no proper ‘world building’, etc) then it doesn’t hurt to say so: if I read ‘I liked the first three chapters’, without any comment on how bad the rest of them were, I will take from that that the reader PARTICULARLY liked the first three chapters, not that the rest of them were awful. You can still make a review balanced (A friend once resorted to saying she liked the characters’ names, in a valiant effort to say something positive about a book, when she could find nothing else!!).

    As for writers who shout ‘troll’ every time they get a bad review ~ well, the only thing more childish is the fans of some writers who will ‘troll’ the giver of the review. I’ve had that happen. It’s so pathetic I can’t get my head round what would make someone do such a thing.

    I’m glad I’ve had some of my weaker points written about in bad reviews – yes, of course it’s horrible, really makes you feel like crap for a few hours, but if all I had was people telling me that my books are really good I would never know about those problems so couldn’t iron them out. I wrote an article about dealing with bad reviews here, I hope it is of help and that you don’t mind me adding the link!

    http://terrytyler59.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/dealing-with-bad-reviews.html

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      • Ha ha! If a book has lots of serious negative points and you don’t mention them, it can also look as though you don’t recognise them. Which is bad for one’s credibility as a reviewer. Anyway, I think you’re getting much braver these days!! 😉

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  3. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Writing a review for a book you have read is a red letter day for the author. It is like Christmas and wonderful to open your Amazon account and see the stars for your work. It does not have to be 5 stars.. it can be three with positives and constructive comments. Head over to Rosie Amber for this post and links to others on the same topic that will guide you through the process.

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  4. Excellent advice, Rosie. I cannot for the life of me understand why an author would try of influence a reviewer to do a “do over.” Sorta smacks of Tugging on Superman’s cape. (or spitting into the wind)

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  5. Rosie, what a excellent well-balanced post on the touchy subject of negative reviews. Like Terry, I feel very strongly about this topic.

    As an author, I don’t understand when readers rip the author to the point of abuse on a review. If a reader didn’t care for one of my books, that’s fine. I totally get it and I will put on my big-girl panties and move on. But leaving a review that could be construed as slander is unacceptable.

    Recently, I had a reviewer give one of my books 2 stars because there were four swear words in it. Yup, she was righteously offended. Did I curse her out? Nope, that’s her opinion and I can’t argue with it.

    Both you and Cathy reviewed my debut novel, Princess of the Light, and instead of wailing, I took what you both said and made it better. Sure, it stung at first but it was exactly what I needed to hear. So, THANK YOU Rosie and Cathy! 🙂

    Now, as a reviewer, I hate leaving negative reviews but my reputation would be ruined if I gave a one star book five stars. I stake my reputation every single time I put out a review. My formula is the sandwich approach: positive, things to work on, positive. If I can’t say anything positive, then I don’t leave a review.

    A note to Authors: I can’t stress this enough – NEVER RESPOND TO A NEGATIVE REVIEW. I don’t care if the review is misleading, incorrect or the reader didn’t get your characters. Leave it alone. Don’t ask retailers to take it down and for heaven’s sake, don’t refute the review online! It makes you, the author, look petty and amateurish. You don’t see Stephen King or Mary Higgins Clark refuting one star review. Take the high road and the leave the refuting to other readers. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Rosie, your experience and knowledge lead this post: The points you make ring true. Many honest and wise words for readers and authors to follow…

    Pinned & shared. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Personally to give a book a one star rating and/or negative review I feel I have to read the whole book, sometimes it’s harder to write something about a 5 star read and what you really liked than about 1 star read and what you couldn’t stand.

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  8. Great advice, Rosie. I read a book that I couldn’t give a positive review on. I sent a nice note to the author thanking her for trusting me to give an honest review of her book, however, because of the reasons I listed, I didn’t want to leave a negative review. Other readers might not find issue. She said she would rewrtie if I would read it again. I declined. I am a reviewer, not an editor.

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    • Thanks Michelle, yes I’d say you did the right thing, it was a little blinkered of her to suggest the re-read, because you will already have formed many opinions of the book and the author, correcting a few of them is unlikely to magically jump your review to a 5*, she needs to find fresh eyes for her work.
      A similar example is with ARC copies sent ahead of publishing which are full of uncorrected areas, you can only read what is in front of you and review, if the work isn’t the final finished product, it won’t get a favourable review.
      I was once sent an uncorrected proof, for my “opinion” I sent back an appraisal, knowing the book was still in proofreading, the book was on Goodreads, so I just said I’d read it, no star rating, no review, the author badgered me for months saying the final copy was now published, would I like to leave a review, no I wouldn’t the copy I had was unfinished.

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  9. Hi Rosie, Thanks to Book Chat for leading me to your site. My first (and so far only) book was published last year. It is a memoir, and I have had the occasional review which criticises me personally – my decisions and motivations – and also my personality and what my family must think of me. That was hard to take, but I had already decided I would not comment on ANY review. I guess that by writing memoir, we have invited the reader into our personal world, so we should expect that we have given our permission for this. Of course, it is hard to picture people saying such things directly to you over a cup of coffee, but who knows? Some people may. I really tried not to read any reviews, as it is a vulnerable time for a first-time author. I never managed that, I was always tempted to peek. The thing is, a year down the track, and I wanted to use some examples for a talk I was giving to others considering writing about adoption. Would you believe, I could only locate two, because I had put it far enough behind me that I couldn’t remember which sites the others appeared on! I had decided not to respond to ANY reviews, as I didn’t want to look as if I was only favouring those who said nice things. I reconsidered that recently, and caught up by responding to anything that was 3+ with a written comment, letting them know how much their consideration had helped me through such a tenuous time. For others who had left a 3+ star rating without commentary, I “liked” so that they would know I had seen it. Some responded, delighted I had done so. Taking a step back, I can now see the reviews were overwhelmingly positive, and remain eternally grateful to people who take the time to review and comment. But not everyone will “get” it, I understand that. I even say so in the book. I don’t expect 5 star reviews BTW. Personally I reserve those for books which have had such an impact that they stay with me for a long, long time – so I am thrilled whenever I receive them 🙂 Particularly if someone has followed up by saying in what way the book assisted their appreciation of the difficult social times covered in my memoir. Thank you for your excellent article.

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    • Hi Gwen,
      When authors set out to write a memoir, I don’t expect any of them really think about the way readers will react to it. Often a memoir is really a release of emotions and events which heavily affected the author, it will touch readers in very different ways depending on their own experiences or knowledge of the subjects in the memoir. If you created any emotions in readers you got them to think about the subject. When a memoir is finished it may still leave very raw emotions for the writer, so I expect you weren’t ready for other people’s strong opinions of your book, a year or more on and your own emotional attachment to the book has shifted and you are now able to look at the reviews from a detached POV. A learning experience for yourself perhaps and one you can take forward when talking to others about it all.

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