Bad Review or No Review At All?

I’ve been wrestling with a problem as of late, as our blog is growing and my presence on goodreads is getting larger: Is it better to put a bad review up or just no rating at all? Let me put this question in context. Authors need ratings, and recommendations, hey it’s how the world goes round in the book business, so in order to get that you have to get your books into people hands. The trend, and it’s not just indie authors since I’m also a member of netgalley, is to give away free books to people that will give you a review or blog about your book. Press is important. But as the old adage bad press is better than no press applicable here? I always tell authors, please be prepared I will be honest in my reviews, and that’s true I don’t hand out five stars just because I got a free book. But what if I hated it? What if I felt it was a one star flop? Still review? Tell all? Or just stay quiet? Let me know what you think in the poll I’ve attached, and this is not just for authors to vote on please do if you review books, or even if you just read tell me which would you prefer?

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62 thoughts on “Bad Review or No Review At All?

    1. Only times I go with bad or negative review is when the book just wont leave me alone until I get my thoughts and feelings on it out. There was this one time I got a free book to review by the author and I did not like it. What I did was concentrate on good things and what had more potential and can be worked on. Stuff I did not really like was only hinted on but it was there. It was a very mild review and I prefer not to focus on the negative. Even with the rest of the books I read I make a review if I think the book deserves attention for one reason or the other. But then again reading is a solitary past time. Not everyone reads and expects the same from a book. I can only express my feelings and my experience on a book.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I understand what you mean, but I just can’t do that. I will always tell the good and the bad, but I think when reviewing people have the right to know I didn’t like it and why. Because they may not agree with me or they may totally agree. I’ll never be mean or cruel, but I will tell whether or not I liked it.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Write it. Be honest. The integrity of you and your blog are at stake. If you don’t review a book if it’s bad then why review books at all. Set up a standard to follow with all reviews and stick to it. That’s what I do.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I know that, for myself, I would prefer an honest opinion of what my readers think. Hearing critical opinions can help me to grow and improve my writing. But, as a reader, I struggle with the same issue that you do. Knowing the time and effort that goes into writing books, I don’t want to be overly critical of someone’s hard work. So, I would say thoughtfully written criticism explaining what the reader liked and didn’t like–and why–is probably the happy medium.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I agree–write it honestly. A review can be negative without being mean. I had the same conversation with myself on my review for Dark Ghost. I hated to give a negative review on one of my favorite authors and series, but kept telling myself that what I like about places like Goodreads and other blogs is that I am looking for a true review. Many times, we can learn more about a book from a negative review as a positive review. Good question to pose to everyone, Kar!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Not always mean but if I down right just don’t like it why say great things about it? Is silence better??? I never want to be considered mean in my reviews but some books I feel no matter what I say it seems harsh.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t think silence is ever better. There’s been one case where I could literally not find one nice thing to say about a book, and I let that be the review in and of itself. Sometimes, you think something just sucks. That’s how it is. I do try to temper it with “this was not the book *for me*/ this did not appeal TO ME.” etc. If no matter what you say, it seems harsh…then that probably says a lot about that book, yeah?

        Liked by 3 people

  4. It is a tough call sometimes. I make it clear that I will be honest no matter what. So far I have mostly found a way to be positive and point out strengths even when I flat out hate what I have read, but there is one review sitting on the back burner that reads more like a term paper critique than review. I haven’t found a way to make it positive and I am not certain that I want to post it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. In general, you’re better off putting your thoughts on paper and let the world know what went wrong. There’s only one situation that my girlfriend came across and got us to think that silence was maybe better. It was among the first reviews she needed to do for an ebook from an author and it wasn’t exactly a good book. What got us to not put up a review is that there wasn’t any reviews up for that story on Goodreads or anywhere else. It didn’t feel right to be the first review for the book, in addition, the first one-star review. We just decided that contacting the author and letting him know our review was the best course of action. He could then decide if he’d still want the review up for the world to see or not.

    Just go on to say what you got to say. After all, it isn’t like your telling a lie. The truth does more than silence could ever do. 😉

    P.S. We haven’t heard from him since. 😀

    – Lashaan

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I agree that you need to write it/post it. There’s no need to be mean, but honest and intelligent criticism is helpful to potential readers who don’t want to waste their money as well as to the author in their future writing endeavours.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Ouch!
    I’ve struggled with this question myself. Who benefits from a negative review or even negative comments in a review? Wouldn’t helpful negative feedback be best delivered privately?

    I don’t know. I’d have to see a benefit to someone, to leave one.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m not sure because I haven’t really used them much myself. I just started recently when I began writing them. I think you get a pretty good idea from what the positive reviewers don’t say, more than from all the people who “I hated this!” or complain about spelling and grammar.

        I usually just read a few pages and skip the reviews. I don’t feel the need to finish every book I start. If I get bored I throw it against the ewall.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. The benefits of a bad review are directly proportionate to the amount of supporting data that the reviewer provides, and the trust that one has in that reviewer. It isn’t just a matter of saying “the book is bad” or “I didn’t like it;” that’s not a review, it’s the world’s weakest book report. Where and what is the supporting evidence? If a reviewer has provided that much information, detailing some of the flaws that they detected, a reader can make a more informed judgement about what is worth their time and money (both finite and therefore presumably valuable resources). It’s not just about slagging off a book, or at least, it shouldn’t be. But if a reviewer that I trust takes the time to articulate a negative opinion of a book, and if they do it well (it’s not use complaining about grammar or proofing if the review in which the complaint is contained is poorly proofed or atrociously written, for example), then to me, that’s a consideration worth taking on board.

    So, yes: go negative. But only if it’s really warranted, and when it is, explain why. That seems the only fair and reasonable way to go, at least to me.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I suppose your point comes down to individual cases, then, and a reviewer can always use more anodyne phrases like “the story needed more work” or “the book needed more editing,” if they feel for some reason that there is need to soften the review. Authors do have free will; they can choose how to take criticism and critique. Or they can be like actors who “never read reviews.” But if you’ve taken on the mantle of a critic, and you have a significant, relevant point to make, then considering the feelings of the author must be secondary. They’ve placed themselves in a position where they are asking for judgment. And it could help! If a book doesn’t sell well, and the author knows why, it might lead to a better book or story the next time!

        Liked by 2 people

  9. As a writer, I want to read the bad reviews. The coldest winds bring the sweetest fruit, or some half-ass agricultural metaphor like that. My second novel would not be as good as it is if people hadn’t taken the time to tell me what they didn’t like about my first, and so on. The ending of “Catskinner’s Book” is very weak, and a number of people told me that. So I spent some time reading and working on plotting the endgame, and my other books end considerably stronger.

    As a reader, I also want to read negative reviews. I may not agree with them, and sometimes what a particular reviewer doesn’t like about a book is what convinces me to check it out. I like slipstream and experimental fiction, so when a review which complains that a book mixes genres or doesn’t fit the expected pattern, I take that as a plus.

    Personally I leave very few reviews and they tend to be very positive ones. Writing reviews takes a degree of clarity that is hard for me–I tend to ramble off on odd tangents. I can gush about what I like, but honestly and accurately describing a work that I didn’t like requires more discipline than I have. So I really appreciate when someone makes the effort to write a well-thought out negative review–not just saying, “THIS BOOK SUX!” but explaining why a particular novel didn’t work and backing it up with examples.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. As an author, please, please, please, give me your honest opinion. Even if you hate my novel I would rather have a terrible review than none at all. I commented something similar on the poll, thinking I was commenting on your blog, ha!

    I was also inspired by the poll and wrote a blog post today on criticism. In short, good, bad, or ugly reviews are what help an author to see where they can improve. If I were to send you a free book to review my work I would want the most honest, in-depth, analysis you are able to give; no matter the opinion it presents.

    In short, write those reviews and give an honest feedback, even if you hate it, but be sure to back up with reasons why you hate it.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I write a lot of reviews also and I think authors would rather get a bad review then no review at all. They like to know that someone is reading their stuff, to them that is the most important thing. Also even for a book you don’t like you can usually come up with a couple of positive things to say about it. I was talking to an author recently who said that it is really hard to find people who will write honest reviews and then she went on to say that when you read some reviews you get the impression that they were friends of the author and never read the book. So my point is that honest reviewers are important.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hmmm, I say no review. Bad reviews may discourage readers from picking your book. It’s a harsh world out there for indies.
    Of course, reviews should always be honest, but if I didn’t like a book from a fellow author, I’ll just leave no review.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I rate it all, but if my review is less than 3 stars I wait a week or two after release day to post it on GR and AMZ. How else is a reader supposed to separate the greats from the ‘WTF-is-this-get-it-out-of-my-kindle-crap’ that is out there! I have been burned one too many time on books bought because of 4-5 star ratings. I never even look on ratings anymore. I buy solely on ‘cover hotness ratio’ and blurb.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I’m late to the party! But yeah, you could always just leave the review on a shelf to collect dust if you wanted to keep from stepping on toes or whatever, but even a bad review gets an author exposure. Might not be the kind they want, but there *is* a difference between “flaming” and “constructive criticism”, and as an author myself, I’d rather know what it was I did wrong so I could correct it in the future instead of repeating mistakes! I’ve also asked some bloggers for reviews before, sent my books, and heard absolutely nothing back from them–no review, no email saying “I don’t think I can review this because I didn’t like it”, nothing, which I honestly think is actually a bit rude lol!

    So hey, if it were me, I’d love to have a bad review from you guys! XD

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I contact the author before putting up a review that isn’t stellar. I will explain why I felt the way I did and if it is proofreading/editing, I will give them a selection of the errors. All of the authors I have reached out to have responded and have been appreciative of the time I put into making their work grow to its fullest potential. If the review is negative because I just didn’t enjoy the content, which doesn’t happen often as I make sure the summary is something I usually enjoy, I won’t leave a review. I spent many years liking a certain genre then took a couple of years off reading and when I started back I realized some of the old genres no longer were for me. It wouldn’t be fair to strike the author for my change of taste.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Review. Definitely review. As a blogger, you promised the author honest feedback.
    I think one reason I give books low ratings is because I expected something totally different. My expectations key me up so much that I’m left disappointed when what I thought would be a book about aliens turns out to be a love story.
    If I read a couple of reviews, I’d be more prepared going into the book.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I will read and I tell authors that if I can’t give it a 3 star or better I won’t post a review, but , I will contact the author and tell them why I couldn’t give a good review. I hope that through constructive criticism I can help the author improve. I also include what was good about it as well as areas that need improvement.

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  18. When I write a review of a book I didn’t like, I try to keep it both subjective and detailed. I try to focus on, and emphasize the fact that I’m expressing my opinion, and to talk about specific instances of what didn’t work for me. Always acknowledging that every book has its reader, even though I might not be the one.

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  19. I was just contemplating this problem. Audible had given me a free copy of an audiobook they wanted me to review. Less than half-way in, I decided that it was pretty definitely going to get a negative review from me, and if was one that I’d picked myself, that’s when I’d have just given up. So I e-mailed Audible and told them that I was going to not finish the book because I’d probably negatively review it, but I could go ahead and finish it if they wanted me to. I haven’t heard back from them yet.

    My thinking is that if I actually finish a book, I’m going to review it and do so honestly. However, if I don’t completely finish a book, I don’t generally review it. (There are exceptions to this, though that’s probably a different topic.) So in this case, I’m giving the publisher the option of me not leaving a review or me leaving a negative review, but only because I’m less than half-way through and would just as soon move on from this book unless requested otherwise.

    When I’m requesting free review copies, I try to pick ones that I’m pretty sure I’ll probably like. I’ll have to figure out what kind of criteria I have when the publisher/author is requesting a review from me, since I haven’t had that happen much yet. I suppose I’m new enough that I feel weird refusing any requests, but I also wouldn’t want to review them in any way other than the same way I review books I choose and buy for myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I think an honest opinion is always always best, but I also think there is a difference between constructive criticism, as in, a review that I, as an author, can learn from and use to improve myself for future work, and plain old rudeness which reads as a personal attack from someone in a bad mood (I’ve seen a few). I’m not published yet, so I can’t comment from my own experience, but I like Elizabethwillse’s approach. It’s a form of diplomatic honesty, really…
    Also, as a reader, I tend to look for the bad reviews first, because they tend to highlight important points that I can then agree with or not. Everyone has their own likes and dislikes, the same element can be loved by someone, yet hated by another. That’s why even the most successful authors never achieve a 100% satisfaction rate.
    At the end of the day, good and bad reviews work together to help readers make their own decision about picking up a book or giving it a pass 🙂

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  21. I take the view that as a reviewer you have to be honest but that doesn’t mean you have to be nasty. I’m careful about the books I choose so chances are I’ll like them but there are still books that I don’t like. With those books I’ll often try to find a funny way to express my views. It doesn’t always work but in the first two of these reviews the author liked my review despite the fact that I didn’t particularly like their book. The third…well I jut threw it in because it shows a theme.

    https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1205092193
    https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/547573744
    https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/587416561

    That said there are books that I do punish. Generally books that I find offensive.

    https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/330236225
    https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/385163723

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  22. Write it! As a reader who looks at reviews – I’ll tell you that I don’t even read 5 star reviews. There aren’t that many exceptional books out there, and there is always room for improvement. Those seem to be mostly hype unless they are from people or bloggers I know that are honest. I tend to read the 1,2 and 3 stars because I’m seeing the real opinions. As long as the review isn’t bashing or bullying, I appreciate seeing it so I can make an informed decision as to where to spend my money. I recently wrote a 2 star review for an author that I love. The book was just a mess. It killed me to write it, but I had to be honest about it because it also killed me to read it.

    Liked by 1 person

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