I’m an honest reviewer. But can I be too honest? It’s been going around my head a lot lately. Are negative reviews worthwhile? Should we post them? Are they useful to the publishers or just a disappointment for them?
I gathered my shy courage and squeaked my questions to a few publicists. They gave me some awesome answers back.
Asking Amanda: Publicist @ HarperCollins
Asking Stephanie: Publicist @ Text Publishing
ME: How do you feel about blogger’s negative reviews?
STEPHANIE: I suppose it depends on what you mean by negative. All I can ask of bloggers, and reviewers in general, is for their reviews to be thoughtful, informed and constructive. We think our books are awesome but understand that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. It’s more frustrating to read a review that is badly written than find out you didn’t like something, your tastes will just inform what I send you.
And I want your opinions as well! So I asked. On twitter! Keep your socks on though, blogglings, because I’m going to ask here too. And the responses were super awesome and interesting.
Note: For some reason I couldn’t embed them without the coding being messy…sooo, screenshots it is! But click on the tweet to go to the bloggers’ accounts!
If you’ve hung around Notebook Sisters for a while, you’ll know my reviews dabble in the snarky park. I use gifs. I make jokes. But I do my best never ever ever to trash an author, no matter what I think of the book. In fact, back in March, I wrote a post on do we have the right to criticise authors? (The consensus was: nope.)
But I’m a human (like most of you…don’t worry! I’m not putting you all in a box, dear aliens) and I doubt myself and my reviewing abilities and I wonder if they can be too harsh? What’s a blogger to do? Besides cry and eat chocolate.
1. Don’t trash the author. This one is pretty obvious, but even I need the reminder sometimes. Never spout of phrases like “the author didn’t know what they were doing” or “the author didn’t do their research”. We seriously can’t make claims like that!
2. Tell us why. Sure the book sucked, but please, for the love of all things bookish, EXPLAIN yourself. It’s no good putting fifty screaming gifs on there, because we still don’t know what the turn-off was. If I read a review that says the characters sucked, I’m going to zig-zag away. I love my characters. But if it’s the description that sucked? Well, that’s okay by me. It still might be my Next Favourite Read.
3. Remember your reviews are for readers, not for the author. I’ve always thought this, but I appreciate having the publicists above confirm this! Our reviews aren’t supposed to “help the author write better”, because we don’t know squat. Our reviews are to help readers who have similar taste to ours find books they’d like to read.
Sure we can be a little snarky and use funny GIFs and rant a little. Free world. We have opinions. But so long as we realise there’s a person behind the makings of that book and we don’t attack anyone, we’re good to go, aren’t we?
Cait is very nervous about this post. Just so you know. She’s been “book blogging” dedicatedly for less than a year, so she is still new to the world of ARCs and talking to (awesome) publicists and trying to appear intelligent and professional. Usually she fails, but self-five for trying. Cait reviews a lot of sucky books, but she tries to keep her snark in check. If you want to catch her reviews at best and worst, friend her on Goodreads.