YOU SHOULDN’T POST NEGATIVE REVIEWS….

(warning…sarcasm & weirdness ahead)

Because…um…well… I said so… no, wait! That’s not why…this is why…

  • authors read them
  • you might want a career in publishing some day and you’ll be BLACKBALLED
  • librarians say so
  • a fluffy pink unicorn dies every time you do it
  • it’s not nice
  • kittens don’t like it

Ah. Screw it.

Here’s the thing. And it’s been said 10000000000 times.

Reviews. Are. An. Opinion.

Authors don’t have to like it.  And guess what…readers/reviewers don’t expect us to like the negative reviews.

But damn it. They are entitled to their opinion.  And when you say…

  • YOU SHOULDN’T POST THAT.  
  • DON’T BE SO NEGATIVE…IT’S CAN SCREW UP YOUR CAREER IN WRITING BEFORE YOU HAVE ONE
  • AUTHORS READ THOSE BLOGS (WON’T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN…) okay…i added that on my own, but those whining about the negative reviews…um. Well…

Or anything variation of the above…you know how this translates?

You challenge their right to an opinion.  Plain and simple.  Perhaps that’s not how you intended to come off.

Yes, yes, I realize, you slaved and labored and worked so hard on that book.

Hey, check out the header up there… I read.  I write.  Yes, I write.  I’m a writer.   Published since 2003 ( I think).  I don’t know how many published works, because I stopped counting them. But I’m a writer. Full stop. End of.

But being published doesn’t entitle you to special treatment.

No.  Wait.  Maybe it does.  It means you get paid for your books.  If you go to a store and they have your books, you can ask to sign them, and that’s kinda cool.  And when people ask what you do for a living, you get to say… “I write.”

That doesn’t translate to…

  • “I get to deny other people their right to an opinion.”
  • “I get to tell people how or where they should voice their opinions.”
  • “I get to determine which opinions are valid and/or acceptable.”

Think that’s a little over the top?  Maybe it is.  But when you rant about a negative review, that’s the message you’re sending.

That negative review isn’t going to kill your career. Will it stop a few people from buying your book? Possibly…because that book may not be right for them.

And FYI, one of the rants lately was that negative reviews discouraged people from reading.  That comment is so fricking ludicrous I can’t even began to voice how many ways that is wrong.

But here’s a clue…and I’m not using these authors to mock or poke or malign.  I haven’t read these books, but I’m familiar with the authors and their works…’kay?

Laurell K Hamilton… on Amazon, Bullet-300+ reviews, and 147 are 1 star.  And you want me to believe people are still not buying/reading?  They are buying and reading her like crazy.

Stephanie Meyer on Amazon 5000+ And day-yum…guys I need more reviews!… anyway.  600 something negative reviews for Twilight.  And Stephanie Meyer…. still getting bought like mad.

Yes, these are big names.  I realize that.  But readers aren’t discouraged by ‘bad’ reviews.

And guess what…that negative review may be the very thing that entices another reader to buy your book.

Example…over at Dear Author… there are several different reviewers.

I generally tend to like books that reviewer Janet likes… if she likes a book, chances are I’m going to, and I’ve often found myself disliking the same books she’s disliked.

So if she didn’t care for a book I’m on the fence about? Yeah, I might not buy.

However… Jane‘s negative reviews? I very often have enjoyed books she hasn’t. I’m hit or miss on the books she’s liked so a positive review from her isn’t necessarily going to be the push I need to get me to buy. But a negative one very often is the push I need if I’m on the fence.  I really don’t think I’m the only person who does things like this.

And it’s a book I’m really, really interested in? Reviews don’t matter.  I’m probably going to take a chance on it.  Unless you’re one of these authors who are having fits about people having opinions your books, because you’re an author I’m never going to try.  I’m full of opinions and nobody gets to dictate how I get to voice them, where, when…etc, etc, etc.

I don’t want to come off as being harsh.  But seriously…some of these writers who are having meltdowns lately over negative/critical reviews?

I just have these thoughts in mind.

  1. You need to get a couple of good, solid friends to vent to.  OFFLINE
  2. You need to get your big girl pants/big boy pants…and put them on….people are going to dislike your work.  That’s all there is to it.
  3. Accept it. Be prepared.  Your life will be easier for it, I promise you.
  4. If you don’t think all of this makes sense… look at all the blow-ups that happen when an author rants over a review disliking a book.  Think them through… how many of them ended well for the author?  I can’t think of one.  It reflects badly.

And it can cost you readers.  The internet… she doesn’t forget.

ETA:  Please… think of the unicorns:

justforponies.com

Author Author Cat pic made @ the LOL Cat builder

21 thoughts on “YOU SHOULDN’T POST NEGATIVE REVIEWS….

  1. Nawnee Savage

    I do think some people go a little over the top with there negative review. I recently read a book that was more for a teenage crowd but it was a freebie for my review and I made sure to put in there that if I was 17 this book would have been great but at 33 it just wasn’t all that great. I personally like some of the popular authors you listed but sometimes there work seems like they throw more sex at it when they run out of story line. I’m not naming names cause your right the internet is forever, needless to say it is not you Shiloh lol 🙂 I finished three of your books this week alone lol I’d put a good review up for you anywhere you’d like. 🙂

  2. Diane

    AS my friends and I can attest to, none of us ever have the same opinion of a book. The differences in our thinking is what makes us well us. So if I have been looking at a book and one of them says: you won’t enjoy it I’ll ask why but it probably won’t change my mind. Those opinions are individual. Or as they say let’s agree to disagree!

  3. Shiloh Walker Post author

    @Nawnee, there are some that can be over the top, sure. But nobody makes somebody read a negative review. They don’t get sent to us… (unless the author is setting up google alerts…)

    And there are some reviewers that decide to take that lovely little extra step and get personal…there was a blow up on Goodreads a while back where a reviewer decided to involve personal attacks, including mocking the author’s personal appearance, her life, etc, in her ‘review’. It was ugly, it was malicious, and it was pointless.

    Several other readers, reviewers and authors got in on it, having a merry old time. I think there were several industry professionals involved in it, if I recall correctly.

    In this case, I could have totally understood if the author in question had decided to share a piece or two of her mind.

    Her response? She made it clear she was aware… and when she decided to address it, it was more to say, “Yes, I’m aware. I’m not going to get worked up over their thoughts over my life… it’s not worth it.”

    Which was completely classy. These people got downright hateful, and it wasn’t one person, but several were involved, and instead of having what a lot of people might have considered a well-deserved WTF moment…she ignored it.

    If this author could be that classy and collected over ugly, unneeded personal attacks, then these YA authors who are flipping out because some people didn’t like their books?

    In the end, authors can only write the best book they can. It will work for some readers, and those are the people we need to focus on. Because it’s impossible to please everybody.

    If we could please every single person, that would mean we’d all be turned into cookie-cutter people and all of us thought the same, wanted the same thing, were essentially clones…and damn, what a boring world that would be.

    It kind of strikes that many YA books are about embracing your differences, finding inner strength… maybe these YA authors need to learn to embrace their own differences, and find THEIR inner strength.

  4. Nawnee Savage

    Wow Shiloh that does sound like a viscous and pointless review and basically and attack I have to say I’m glad I missed it. Your are correct the Author did respond with class which says a lot about the author 🙂 I always figured with the rejections you get when your a beginning writer that it made you have a thick skin for when the public started there opinions but no matter what I guess some one takes it to personally, I do think in the end you should only review the book and not the persons lifestyle or clothing choice?? what did that have to do with the book?? that confused me. and def agree with you on the YA writers taking to heart there own wisdom there trying to get out into print lol

  5. Rochelle Weber

    Thank you for your post. I believe it is a reviewer’s job to give an honest opinion of the book they’ve read, and yes–it is an opinion. As an author and an editor, I may be a bit more nit-picky than some reviewers because I notice grammar errors other readers may not see. I try to remind myself that other people probably won’t notice that comma splice and it won’t bother them as it does me. They’re one of my editorial pet peeves.

    While I can let the occasional comma splice pass, repeated misuse of homonyms, tenses, info dumps to the point of an unprofessional lack of editing will lose a book roses and earn negative comments from me. If the characters do not engage me I will say so.

  6. June M.

    I agree that everyone is entitled to his/her opinion and that reviewers should be free to post their opinions without being attacked. I also believe, though, that reviewers should be respectful and not attack the author. And I feel that if a reviewer is posting on a book that is not something they would normally read, they need to state this. For example, if they do not read YA books, paranormals, or do not like erotic romances, why are they reviewing them?

  7. Shiloh Walker Post author

    @June…often, nitpicking sort of stuff like that is easy enough to wade through. The author shouldn’t get work up about it and readers can usually filter through them easy enough. (ETA… I don’t see the POINT in getting worked up…granted, a lot of authors do. But I’d rather focus on the readers I’ve made happy. Why worry about what I can’t change?) If a reader wants to waste their time reading books they don’t enjoy? Well, there are weirder things in the world and if they want to spend their time that way, it’s not going to trouble me.

    However, if it’s a reviewer site, often reviewers get assigned books and if they’ve been assigned a book, I’d imagine they feel it’s their job to finish whatever book they’ve been assigned. I think most blogger sites try to keep their reviewers likes/dislikes in mind and work with them. Outside of that? I’m not going to get bent out of shape if somebody is reading one of my books and decides they hated it enough to review it.

    To quote Nora Roberts… she has had readers tell her… “I’ve read every single one of your books… and I hated them.”

    She’s got to be doing something right, if they ‘hated’ them but still keep reading. The author’s job is to evoke a response, in the end. I’ve said it before, but I’d almost rather a negative review than a ‘meh’ review. ‘Meh’ is forgettable. Negative, at least, they felt something.

  8. Nicole

    If this is about the post I read after a bunch of hoopla I saw over on twitter (there were at least 2 separate occasions I saw of this happening…), that author’s response was….unprofessional…to put nicely. Now, on that particular review I saw, I probably would not have bought the book, just because it did sound eerily similar to another series. I don’t mind similarities in plots here and there, but when it is overwhelming, then well…

    That said, I’ve definately read reviews and bought books based on some that were more negative. Usually I don’t necessarily read reviews…I tend to judge based on blurb or twitter hype. If I see something that sparks my interest, I have a few trusted blogger friends who I may ask or search their blogs. But, there is an occasion where I’ll google reviews if I don’t get a response…to see if it’s worth my money. Generally, unless the review points out something really really wrong (for me if someone says the plot drags and drags, that’s a turn off), I just look for overall thoughts. I usually end up buying the book. That said, I don’t like every book I read. Reviewers IMHO have a right to say that. Should they try and be diplomatic and unpersonal…yes. But that’s MY opinion. As a reader, I don’t care about a reviewer’s thoughts on the author. I want to know about the plot, about the characters, about the writing style. What works for me may not work for someone else and vice versa. So, while one reviewer may “ding” a book b/c there is too much going on, I *like* a lot o f action. It isn’t fun if we like the same stuff all the time :). Just my 2 cents *G*.

  9. Nawnee Savage

    Shiloh your right about the reviewer getting sent books they like out of 13 I have to review i wouldn’t have picked up two of them myself but i’m still going to read them through and give as objective review as I can.

  10. Lynn R.

    You know, there is one sure-fire way to not get all freaked out by a review, whether it’s a good or bad one – DON’T READ IT!! Or am I an oddity/minority in this readers world of ours by freely admitting I don’t read reviews?

    Like Nicole, I tend to find new-to-me authors/books by their blurbs, or by what other friends who have already read them say (and yes, I do know that that in itself is a form of review). I’m also aware that not all my friends like to read the same things I like to read, so their opinions don’t always get taken into account.

    Having read way too many reviews in the past where the reviewer has dragged their own personal experience into the review (admittedly, these reviews were for orchestra concerts, not books, but the basic premise is the same), and totally gotten off the track of what the purpose of the review was supposedly actually for, I simply stopped reading reviews for anything, whether it was for musical events, books, movies, restaurants, whatever. I don’t read them, and I’m much happier that way.

    So, maybe I’m odd, but I like being that way.

    Later,

    Lynn

  11. Brie

    I need to point out one mistake you just made. You said Pink Unicorns, plural, but everybody knows there’s just ONE Pink Unicorn, and he doesn’t die every time someone writes a negative review, he just cries on single rainbow tear of unicorn pain. That’s it, the rest of the post is fine!

  12. Skye Warren

    Yes, yes, yes, oh my god yes. It kills me that not only do authors keep doing this type of thing, but that when I see a public rant or something, their fellow authors mostly turn a blind eye, or even support them by offering a consolatory “too bad about the crappy review. That reviewer sounds like a b*tch.” That kind of thing reflects on everyone.

    Also, and maybe it’s just the author loops that I hang out in, but it seems like there’s a feeling of entitlement to 5-star reviews. Like if you worked hard on something and got it published, then it deserves 5 stars. What? No, if you haven’t done those things, it deserves no stars, clearly, as it can’t even be rated. The scale starts at 1 star. I don’t try to read reviews too frequently, because the negative ones can sting, but when I do read them, I am in awe of the people who liked it, who “got” it, and who were willing to give me four or five stars. It feels like a gift, not my right.

  13. anny cook

    Thank you for saying this. Probably won’t make much difference because the people who need to read it, don’t believe it applies to them. That’s the way things roll.

    Also wanted to say if all reviews are 5-star reviews, then how can that be special? I have my share of one star reviews…maybe more than my share? I also have some from the other end of the spectrum–for the same books! As you said. One opinion.

    Good post!

  14. Lisa

    I don’t know. I agree with you overall, but I do think that *if* you’re an aspiring author, and *if* you’re posting reviews on Amazon under your real name, it might be unwise to leave a negative review. You’re 100% right that authors shouldn’t get worked up over them, and that everybody–even a lowly unpublished author!–is entitled to their opinion. But the reality is that plenty of authors might still hold a negative review against someone they’re later in a position to help or hinder.

  15. Shiloh Walker Post author

    @ Lisa… most authors aren’t going to fall into that camp. There are going to be the petty ones, but if a review is fair, focuses on the book and doesn’t attack the author? Most of us aren’t link to place X name to Y review and then think…CRAP, HE RUINED MY CAREER.

    We get bad reviews. We deal. We move on. Contrary to what’s happening in the blogosphere lately, the authors who freak out over negative reviews are in the minority. And typically any thing that might ‘progress’ a career comes from an editor or agent…when they ask me to do something, it’s because they believe in something so I’m willing to help them, if I can. I’m not going to cut off my nose to spite my face over a review…I doubt I’m in the minority.

    And typically, the agent & editor are the ones more in a position to ‘advance’ a career than an author, anyway, unless you’re a mega seller. And mega sellers get too many reviews to keep up.

    Writers, by and large, tend to be fairly supportive. The ones who aren’t might hold a grudge, but if a newbie writer is going to censor their thoughts that early on? Then chances are there are a lot of steps they might be too nervous to take. This isn’t a field for the fearful. It’s hard and it gets harder all the time. Being afraid to post a well-thought out review, positive or negative, wouldn’t bode well, IMO.

  16. Laura Roberts

    Great post! I would also like to see the evidence of an actual author who “ruined” her career by posting negative reviews of someone else’s books before she was ever published. That seems like it must’ve been dreamt up by people with lots of neuroses, or who needed some alternative, face-saving explanation of their own inability to get published. I mean, critics say lots of negative (and sometimes even unnecessarily snarky) things about books all the time. Are they banished from writing their own books? Hell no. Look at Roger Ebert; he’s won a Pulitzer Prize for having opinions! (Really: he got it for his film criticism.) Sure, you should try to be as even-handed as you can be (i.e. don’t take personal potshots at the author, focus on the book), but you should never be afraid of voicing your opinion in a review.

    I do wonder, however, about places like GoodReads where indie authors seek to connect with their readers… I recently had an author try to befriend me there, which was super awkward because I knew I’d written a negative review of this person’s book! I definitely don’t want to get into a flame-war with any authors to defend my right to that opinion, so I tend to just ignore them.

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