Monday, June 29, 2015

Discussion: Are Negative Reviews Bad for Your Book?

All around the Internet you hear stories of authors flipping out over a negative review. One author showed up at a reviewer's house but left when no one answered the door, another flew from England to Ireland to throw a wine bottle at a blogger, someone else made a list of everyone who received an ARC copy of his book but didn't review it for various reasons, and one person wrote a negative review so the author promised free books to anyone who would give him a glowing five star one to balance his ratings, even if they didn't read it, ect.

Obviously not all authors are like this--a lot of them used to be or currently are reviewers themselves and are more understanding. But when some people get negative out. Take, for example, the first author I mentioned. When someone wrote a scathing review of her book, other people on Goodreads commented and said the review made them change their mind about reading it. Ergo, the author lost readers who otherwise would have given her book a chance. She believed that one review had damaged her career, so she showed up at the review's house and absolutely killed whatever chance she had left (duh).

Just because she believed her career had been badly hurt.

Yes, negative reviews lower you overall rating on Goodreads and can often sway other people from picking up your novel. But what if those reviews actually help you instead?

Here's a scenario all too common in Christian fiction and self-pub novels especially: I saw browsing through Goodreads and found a self-pub Christian fantasy novel for new adults. I think I'd like New Adult fiction, but they tend to have a lot of sexual content. But a Christian fantasy? That sounded good, so I checked out its page. All I saw were positive reviews, so I checked its balance of ratings.

It's overall rating is 4.52 out of 5. There are no one star reviews, but four people gave it two stars. None of them left a review. 14 people gave it 3 stars, but only one person wrote a review, and she only mentioned good things about the novel and gave no reason why she didn't give it 5 stars. All the rest of the reviews/ratings (134) are 4 and 5 stars.


This gives me the impression that the only people who reviewed her book were her friends and family who received books for free. Obviously, I'm sure that didn't happen--I highly doubt she's given away 100+ copies of her book since it was published last year. But still. If unbiased people had read her book, wouldn't someone have given a negative review?
tumblr_n9wxqcCcKa1sg3vmpo4_250.gif (245×245)
I ended up adding this book to my to-read list, but I don't intend to get to it any time soon. Why? Because the author has no credibility. Maybe her book is great, but no matter what you do, someone will hate it. I've been the first person to post a negative review before--it's awkward. If everyone loves it, then something must be wrong.

The same goes for reviewers. There's quite a lot out there who only write positive reviews because they believe no book deserves 1 star, simply because the author worked so hard on it. If they don't like a book, it simply disappears from their Goodreads shelves. But again, these people have no credibility. If you seem to love everything, why should I trust your judgement on a book? Now, maybe these people don't care what people think, and that's fine. Most people (or maybe it's just me?) do care. I want to appear credible. I have a public profile on Goodreads because I want people to friend me. I want people to look at my reviews and think "That's exactly what I thought!" or "I disagree, but dang, I like her style of writing". ;) Only posting positive reviews would diminish my believability.

It's okay if you don't like an author's book. It's totally fine to say that. Statistically speaking, no one is going to try to hurt you. Don't apologize for your opinion! Own it!

Comment: What do you think about negative reviews? Also, a giveaway is coming up in a couple days, so stayed tuned!


  1. I do negative reviews and sometimes even try to beef it up a little to make something that set me off seem more dramatic.

    I dont beleive that all books are good ones personally, and if there is something that I would have wanted to know before reading it myself, I want to share that with others
    Kate @ majesticgoldenrose

    1. Exactly! Pretending a book is really good so that you don't hurt the author's feelings is basically the same as lying to everyone who follows you. Everyone has different tastes in books, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't share your own opinion. I try to list the facts in my reviews (in the grading part especially) so that people can judge for themselves if they should read it or not.