The idea for today’s blog post has been with me for the past couple of months but for some reason, it never made it to the blog. I knew I wanted to talk about it in some form but I never thought it was important enough (or rather it would be stating the obvious) to dedicate an entire post to it.
However, the issue of writing negative book reviews – whether we should write them at all and if so, how far can we go – keeps popping up on my news feed, so I decided to sit down and talk about my experiences and why I think negative reviews do matter.
We’re all different
Each book blogger is different. We have different writing styles, different taste in books, and different preferences when it comes to writing our reviews. I know people who only review books they genuinely enjoyed reading and would recommend to others, and people who review the good and the bad. And that’s fine. We’re different and that’s how it should be.
I belong to the latter category but I totally understand why people would decide not to review books they didn’t enjoy and I completely respect their choice. Personally, I always attempt to review even the ones I didn’t like but being a slow reader and working full time, I don’t think I would be able to keep my blog going if I ignored every bad book I read. And I don’t want to, either. As a blogger, I think it’s important to talk about both good and bad stories.
Why we need negative reviews too
1) They do sell books
From a marketer’s or publicist’s point of view, negative reviews must be a curse. You’re doing everything you can to promote the book that you’re working on, then someone comes along and tells people not to bother. It sucks.
And it sucks for us bloggers too. Taking part in a blog tour with a review, only to realise you don’t even like the book as much as you thought you would is a terrible feeling. I’ve been there quite a few times. Not to mention the fact that, no matter how hard you work on your review (trying to be fair while feeling increasingly guilty for having to write a negative post), it’s unlikely to get shared. And it makes sense, too. Why would anyone – and especially the publisher – share a post that essentially tells its audience not to buy the book?
However, negative reviews sell books too. Or rather, well-written reviews do, regardless of whether they are positive or negative. I regularly get comments on my reviews saying that people want to read the book “just to see why I didn’t like it” or why I was put off by a certain character.
2) They help your readers
While book reviews are incredibly subjective and what works for one person may not work for someone else, the reason why we share them with hundreds and thousands of people out there is to help them decide whether the book is for them or not. One of the beauties of the book blogging community is that there are so many of us with so many different tastes – and regardless of what genres you enjoy reading, it’s easy to find the bloggers whose opinion you trust and whose taste matches yours.
Your review, whether it’s positive or negative, will help readers who trust you and who have the same taste as you decide whether they want to spend their hard-earned pennies on a certain book or not. If all bloggers only ever said good things about books, how would we – or our readers – know which ones to avoid?
3) They can spark a debate among readers
One of the perks of a negative review is that they can spark a debate among your readers. I always find that not only are my negative reviews easier to write (there are only so many ways I can say ‘I flippin’ loved this book’) but they usually have a higher response rate as well. Negative reviews will allow fellow bloggers and readers to discuss the story in more detail and talk about which parts did or did not work for whom.
4) It gives your readers a chance to get to know you
One of the reasons why I (not so) secretly enjoy reading negative reviews is that it gives me a chance to get to know the blogger a little bit better. You get a fairly good idea of what works for them and what doesn’t, and it makes it much easier for you to decide whether you have a similar taste or not.
What do you think? Do you write negative book reviews? If not, why?