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message 1: by Amanda (new)

Amanda  B Gillespie (amanda_shocknawebookblogger) | 12 comments I have never had to write a negative review and would like some pointers on how to do this in a constructive way that won't hurt any feelings. any thoughts?


message 2: by Meagan (new)

Meagan | 280 comments The way I do it is say what I feel but don't put TOO MUCH feelings into it. I just stay detached really. Don't hit 'em too hard, but hard enough. :)


message 3: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Hull (kellyvan) | 25 comments State simply what you didn't like and any redeeming factor you can give them. I always try to put at least one positive in a negative review. Stay true to the stars and be as polite as possible. Sometimes I start with Why I can't give five stars: and then maybe I knock a star off for editing, knock another star off for some other reason, etc., but then I try to end with what I liked and never slam the author. Good luck! It's so hard isn't it?


message 4: by Keith (new)

Keith I think balance is key. Be sure to include positive comments and don't belabor the negatives. It's easy to do that. Make the point and move to the next one.


message 5: by PepperP0t (new)

PepperP0t even if its negative make sure its about the book/read and not an author bash. sometimes a read is so disagreeable the only positive thing you can say is that it's over and you lived.


message 6: by Wilmar (new)

Wilmar Luna (wilmarluna) | 101 comments As an author myself, the negative reviews I find easier to swallow are the ones that manage to critique, but stay constructive.

"I didn't like this book because... I felt the writing was stilted, there was an over-use of similes, the grammar needed another polish pass."

Also, when you say if a character is shallow or the plot lacked depth, explain why. Example:

"I felt the villain was very shallow and one dimension which didn't make him very interesting to read. Nowhere in the book did I see an established motive for why the villain was doing these horrible things to the main character. I didn't really see why he chose to do what he did and he wasn't compelling enough to be evil just for the sake of evil."

The most painful, but the most useful for authors are when you cite examples from the book itself. On page blah blah blah, this character said this. And then you say, "I felt that this sentence sums up how I felt about the book."

The most important thing is to not bash the author. Pretend like you're trying to explain the review to a friend, you want your friend to do well, but you also want them to recognize that their work needs improvement.


message 7: by Tom (new)

Tom Krug (thomas_krug) | 31 comments I'm with you, Wilmar. Long as you have some criticism to build off, a negative review isn't wholly bad. It's the empty ratings that get me up in arms.


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

Ugh. I hate those. Fine, award me a one star--I can take it. I will just go read my fives and perk myself up. But at least tell me why you gave it the 'I hate it!" stamp!


message 9: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Hull (kellyvan) | 25 comments How about "it was so bad, I couldn't even finish". That leaves a lot of whys, especially when u have a strong following otherwise. The non authors will never know the impact of their "non-words".


message 10: by Vardan (new)

Vardan Partamyan (vardanpartamyan) | 201 comments Say what you want to say but say it in a way that would be acceptable to you as a human being, to you as a reader who wants to find out more about the book and to you as an author who will read this review and try to understand what they did wrong.

It's a tricky business really, but I have to say that except for one one-star no-comment review all the reviews I have received so far have been very well written and constructive in both their praise and criticism.


message 11: by Leonie (new)

Leonie (leonierogers) It's really hard to give a negative review, but if you think about all of the books you've read, and all of the reviews, it's really important that when you review a book you've been honest in your review.

Reviews are for readers. When I look at reviews, I often skim over both the five and one star reviews and focus on the two, three and four stars - because they're often reviews with substance. I've read way too many books recently that have only four and five star reviews but are full of problems - sometimes problems as obvious as extremely poor spelling and grammar, or significant plot issues.

I've only been on Goodreads for about ten months or so, but there appears to be quite an issue with people being reluctant to review honestly - they either don't review if they feel that it might hurt the author's feelings, (or their sales), or they review very positively even if they didn't like the book. With the vast rise of self published authors this topic has become a minefield, and unfortunately some authors have responded to poor reviews in a less than mature fashion.

Having said that, a negative review should be at least substantial - very much as Wilmar (above) said, and should never be an attack on the author.

It is tricky. I'm both a reader and an author (not self published - small new publisher), and I've made it a rule (for me) not to respond to reviews, whether I like them or not. I like getting constructive reviews though - it's helpful even if I don't agree with them (and even if they are painful!) I'm only going to become a better writer by listening to good critique.


message 12: by Sahana (new)

Sahana Reddy | 30 comments After reading this discussion I feel bad about the harsh reviews I gave to two books! I will try my best to be polite and state my reasons in a better way. Insulting someone's work is very bad, I always know that but when I dislike a book, the hate just flows out of me!


message 13: by Vardan (new)

Vardan Partamyan (vardanpartamyan) | 201 comments I'm all the more flattered by your positive review Sahana!


message 14: by Sahana (new)

Sahana Reddy | 30 comments Vardan wrote: "I'm all the more flattered by your positive review Sahana!"

Your book deserves a good review :)


message 15: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Hull (kellyvan) | 25 comments Leonie wrote: "It's really hard to give a negative review, but if you think about all of the books you've read, and all of the reviews, it's really important that when you review a book you've been honest in your..."

Leonie wrote: "It's really hard to give a negative review, but if you think about all of the books you've read, and all of the reviews, it's really important that when you review a book you've been honest in your..."

Leonie, I think you do them very well. By far, the most constructive one I've gotten so far.


message 16: by Vardan (new)

Vardan Partamyan (vardanpartamyan) | 201 comments Sahana wrote: "Vardan wrote: "I'm all the more flattered by your positive review Sahana!"

Your book deserves a good review :)"


Thanks :) Also thank you for including the review in your blog...awesomeness incarnate :)


message 17: by Sahana (new)

Sahana Reddy | 30 comments Vardan wrote: "Sahana wrote: "Vardan wrote: "I'm all the more flattered by your positive review Sahana!"

Your book deserves a good review :)"

Thanks :) Also thank you for including the review in your blog...awe..."


I tried Amazon but i never bought any book from there so i can't write a customer review! :( I decided from now on I will put up reviews in Indian Online Shopping websites at least!


message 18: by Leonie (new)

Leonie (leonierogers) Thanks Kelly!


message 19: by Vardan (new)

Vardan Partamyan (vardanpartamyan) | 201 comments Sahana wrote: "Vardan wrote: "Sahana wrote: "Vardan wrote: "I'm all the more flattered by your positive review Sahana!"

Your book deserves a good review :)"

Thanks :) Also thank you for including the review in ..."


Thanks Sahana!


message 20: by Sahana (new)

Sahana Reddy | 30 comments Vardan wrote: "Sahana wrote: "Vardan wrote: "Sahana wrote: "Vardan wrote: "I'm all the more flattered by your positive review Sahana!"

Your book deserves a good review :)"

Thanks :) Also thank you for including..."


Have you ever given anybody a negative review? If so why?


message 21: by Vardan (new)

Vardan Partamyan (vardanpartamyan) | 201 comments Sahana, I have yet to give a negative review to anyone. There have been many books that I have read and not liked but for some reason I have never had the urge to write a negative review. There are several reasons for this reluctancy:

1. As an author, I know what receiving unflattering reviews feels like
2. I believe that I may or may not be the target audience for the novel and whatever doesn't work for me may be perfectly suitable for other readers
3. In a lot of cases, I believe that leaving the book without a rating is a better option than giving it a one-star review.

What about you?


message 22: by Sofia (new)

Sofia (fivesunflowers) | 17 comments In the world of books, not everyone is going to like everything they read - that is just the reality, and I think as a writer, you need to expect that and be able to sift through what is reasonable and what is not. I have seen some negative reviews on here and some of them are just plain ridiculous. I saw a negative review of a book because the main characters 'were selfish and got on their nerves". I mean, REALLY? We are rating the BOOKS, not the characters. Some characters are written to be selfish or whatever the case may be. Even when/if I give a "bad" review (Fifty Shades comes to mind), I am always very specific about why I did not care for the book (ie the writing, the overuse of words, lack of plot, etc). I like to think ALL my reviews, good and bad, are constructive and honest.


message 23: by Vardan (new)

Vardan Partamyan (vardanpartamyan) | 201 comments fivesunflowers wrote: "In the world of books, not everyone is going to like everything they read - that is just the reality, and I think as a writer, you need to expect that and be able to sift through what is reasonable..."

I totally agree with you in the sense of the many ratings targeting separate characters for their, well, character :) also seen some reviews that were targeting the author him/herself which is just plain unacceptable imho


message 24: by Carol (new)

Carol | 78 comments If I don't enjoy a book I always say why but do try to give some sort of positive in my review. I've been very lucky that there are very few books that I have not enjoyed, but those I didn't were not a slight on the author, they are usually not my type of book.


message 25: by Sofia (new)

Sofia (fivesunflowers) | 17 comments Vardan wrote: "fivesunflowers wrote: "In the world of books, not everyone is going to like everything they read - that is just the reality, and I think as a writer, you need to expect that and be able to sift thr..."

I have seen those too - ratings that kind of personally insult the authors (I have seen these in many biographical books). I think those 'type' of reviews and reviewers need to not be taken personally or seriously, for that matter.


message 26: by Vardan (new)

Vardan Partamyan (vardanpartamyan) | 201 comments I have even seen a review where the reviewer called the author "ugly", which is just ridiculous. There should be a way such reviews can be reported and processed without hurting the overall freedom of expression of the readers.


message 27: by Hayley (new)

Hayley (applesticker) | 36 comments I generally start with what I liked about the book, and then list the things I didn't like (and why/give examples), and then I like to end with something like "if this and that were improved on, this would have been worth 1-2 more starts". I like to think with the last bit that I'm helping the author improve for next time, though of course it's totally subjective and they may not even read it.
(though, side note, an author whose book I gave an average review recently contacted me to offer me a free copy of book 2 in the series to see if I thought it was an improvement. So that made me feel pretty good about my reviewing prowess :) )


message 28: by Vardan (new)

Vardan Partamyan (vardanpartamyan) | 201 comments Hayley wrote: "I generally start with what I liked about the book, and then list the things I didn't like (and why/give examples), and then I like to end with something like "if this and that were improved on, th..."

And has an author ever contacted you asking/pleading/demanding to change your review and give more stars?


message 29: by Sahana (new)

Sahana Reddy | 30 comments Vardan wrote: "Sahana, I have yet to give a negative review to anyone. There have been many books that I have read and not liked but for some reason I have never had the urge to write a negative review. There are..."

Wow, the reasons you stated for not giving a negative review are spot on!
In reply to your question, I give negative reviews to books that either lack a proper plot or if the writing style is too confusing/distracting.


message 30: by Vardan (new)

Vardan Partamyan (vardanpartamyan) | 201 comments Sahana wrote: "Vardan wrote: "Sahana, I have yet to give a negative review to anyone. There have been many books that I have read and not liked but for some reason I have never had the urge to write a negative re..."

Objectively, there have been books I have struggled with in terms of the flow of the narrative and just the plain lack of excitement. At the same time, I believe that books can be divided into two broad categories. First come the books that were written by the author with a distinct idea, a story, a notion they want to share with the world. These sort of books may or may not be well written, you may or may not like the ideas instilled within the stories but you see that the idea is there along with the attempt to say something new. The second category of books are the ones that are riding the ideas presented by other authors, recycling and trying to steal a bit of sunshine. I think these kinds of books can also contain gems that not only equal but surpass their subject of imitation but in any case these kinds of novels deserve a harsher look and criticism. It is my belief that writing just like any other type of creativity is about self-expression...not about cashing in.


message 31: by Hayley (new)

Hayley (applesticker) | 36 comments Vardan wrote: "Hayley wrote: "Hayley wrote: "I generally start with what I liked about the book, and then list the things I didn't like (and why/give examples), and then I like to end with something like "if this and that were improved on, th..."

And has an author ever contacted you asking/pleading/demanding to change your review and give more stars?
."


No, that's never happened to me - though I would never agree to.


message 32: by Vardan (new)

Vardan Partamyan (vardanpartamyan) | 201 comments Hayley wrote: "Vardan wrote: "Hayley wrote: "Hayley wrote: "I generally start with what I liked about the book, and then list the things I didn't like (and why/give examples), and then I like to end with somethin..."

What about abusive replies to your reviews?


message 33: by Tasha (new)

Tasha Turner (tashaturner) | 116 comments I've been contacted by a couple authors where I left 3 star reviews and explained what I did not like about the book. One of the authors it was his 1st book and I ended my review with "I look forward to his next book as I believe he will grow better the more he writes" as most of the problems with the book were newbie mistakes. He contacted me and we had a nice conversation and I'm really excited about his new book coming out.

The other book had been a story within a story and I had found it confusing. The author offered to explain it to me so I'd see why the book was not confusing. I've been reading on average a book a day since my teens. If you have to explain your book to me its not working. In this case I've not read anything else by the author which is too bad as she might be good but I try to review most books I read and I don't want to have another run-in with her.

I did say some nice things about both books. As there were good and bad in both Sometimes I do unrated reviews of "this was not my cup of tea".

I try to include positives as well as negatives. Right now I'm having a hard time writing reviews as too many of the books in fantasy & romance are full of violence/abuse/rape of a woman as THE way to create crisis for their kickass female characters and I have to be careful that I'm reviewing the specific book and not the genre. Then there are the women attracted to every guy in the story or the men trying to kill them which also has become normative.


message 34: by Sahana (new)

Sahana Reddy | 30 comments Vardan wrote: "Sahana wrote: "Vardan wrote: "Sahana, I have yet to give a negative review to anyone. There have been many books that I have read and not liked but for some reason I have never had the urge to writ..."

Vardan wrote: "Sahana wrote: "Vardan wrote: "Sahana, I have yet to give a negative review to anyone. There have been many books that I have read and not liked but for some reason I have never had the urge to writ..."

I agree!


message 35: by [deleted user] (new)

I value honesty from my critics. I actually ASKED to have some more neg reviews put on Amazon for balance. I appreciate the thoughtfulness you guys are demonstrating...but I confess that coddling within the indie community and reluctance to criticize annoys me. Readers like you keep it fresh.


message 36: by K.A. (new)

K.A. Krisko (kakrisko) I like to 'frame' the criticism - it's a technique recommended for dealing with employees whose work you need to critique. Start with positive things, use the middle to cover things you didn't like, and finish on a positive note, even if it's just, "I know the author put a lot of effort into getting this story out there."

That being said, I hate doing them. But it's not honest to the reader to rate a book better than you feel it actually is. It's gotta be done.


message 37: by Vardan (new)

Vardan Partamyan (vardanpartamyan) | 201 comments K.A. wrote: "I like to 'frame' the criticism - it's a technique recommended for dealing with employees whose work you need to critique. Start with positive things, use the middle to cover things you didn't like..."

That's an excellent technique.


message 38: by Vardan (new)

Vardan Partamyan (vardanpartamyan) | 201 comments Tasha wrote: "I've been contacted by a couple authors where I left 3 star reviews and explained what I did not like about the book. One of the authors it was his 1st book and I ended my review with "I look forwa..."

I agree with you esp. on the point where the author suggested to explain the book. The thing is that the author actually has several hundred pages to do the explaining and bluntly put "sell" his vision. If he/she is not able to do it within that space for a particular reader she/he shouldn't try to do it afterwards. It is a bit like telling a joke no one finds funny and then explaining at length what exactly was funny about it.


message 39: by Tasha (new)

Tasha Turner (tashaturner) | 116 comments Exactly. If you have to explain or find yourself arguing with readers that they did not get your book... You need to reread it, maybe get someone in your genre to critique it for you, rewrite, and try again... Or at least listen and learn for your next book. But telling your readers they are wrong is never going to help you. I believe in being respectful whether I'm leaving a good or bad review. I'm not the best reviewer as I tend to be short but I never say "I loved/hated this book" and leave it at that.


message 40: by Vardan (new)

Vardan Partamyan (vardanpartamyan) | 201 comments short and sweet is the name of the game


message 41: by David (new)

David Holley | 4 comments As an author I am ok with people reading my book and not liking it. As in any form of art it's not for everyone. The fact that someone, anyone for that matter would take the time to read my book is enough for me.

However, I do have problems with reviews that are mean spirited and insulting. Fortunately I have only had to endure a handful of such reviews but it causes me to wonder. Do they realize how hurtful they are? As an artist I have been trained to have a thick skin but in the end we are all human and I can guarantee you any writer who has made the effort to write a book has put their heart and soul into it.

Another pet peeve of mine is when a reader has read only a couple of pages of a book and then cuts it to shreds. I do not believe that is a fair and balanced review. If you didn't like what you read and gave up then just walk away. To make assumptions and without giving an author the benefit of the doubt is just ignorant.


message 42: by Amanda (last edited Sep 24, 2015 10:53AM) (new)

Amanda  B Gillespie (amanda_shocknawebookblogger) | 12 comments I have read these comments and really appreciate your comments and suggestions. Would anyone be willing to read and critique my review it before I post it without the author and name of the book. I agreed to read and review for Smashbooks and wanted to do it right. It will be my first written review that includes more than starred rating. Thanks one and all. If you would like to help, you can contact me here or at agille37@gmail.com


message 43: by Keith (new)

Keith Right there with you David.


message 44: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Hull (kellyvan) | 25 comments I second that David.


message 45: by Sofia (new)

Sofia (fivesunflowers) | 17 comments David wrote: "As an author I am ok with people reading my book and not liking it. As in any form of art it's not for everyone. The fact that someone, anyone for that matter would take the time to read my book is..."

So right, David! I have seen negative reviews where readers say "I hated this book, I gave up on it after 20 pages".. REALLY? I guess I expect people who READ to be more intelligent and reasonable than everyone else lol, it surprises me when I see stuff like that.


message 46: by ~Thena~ (new)

~Thena~ (athena-nadine) | 184 comments I disagree. It hasn't happened often, but there have been times when I just could not read more than a chapter or two of a book. I have the right to state that and to say why if I want to and I shouldn't have to be forced to continue reading a book I know I won't like just to be allowed to share my feelings about it. Yes, it is possible to know at times that a book will absolutely not be enjoyed after a few pages.

My reviews are written for me, to help me remember how I felt about the books I've read. They are also written for my friends. They are not written for the authors. I agree with not being nasty and not attacking the authors, but readers really don't owe authors anything when writing reviews.


message 47: by Tasha (new)

Tasha Turner (tashaturner) | 116 comments I agree Thena although I've struggled passed and finished books and in most cases they've turned out to be meh by the end rather than totally horrible as I expected... Unless it was due to lack of proofreading in which case it usually gets worse & I do quit reading and mark that in my review... If an author has spelling and grammar errors in every paragraph readers should be warned.

I think as authors we need to remember that the only thing a reader owes us is to not pirate our books. I never thought to write reviews until I got involved in the publishing world. Then I was thinking totally about it from a readers perspective. Now I'm more careful with my reviews.

When I finally publish my stories I expect to get the same treatment as all authors do and that includes "book sucked" with no explanation. I remind my clients when they are upset about a review to go look at reviews of their favorite books including classics. I'm not sure I deserve to be treated ant better than Charles Dickens and J.K. Rowling.


message 48: by M.W. (new)

M.W. Muse (mwmuse) | 13 comments I agree that everyone is entitled to his/her opinions. You can't appeal to everybody--with the good comes the bad. Hell, I've gotten a bad review on a book that also received a stellar review in RT Book Reviews Magazine.

BUT there is one thing that bothers me... it's when someone leaves a bad review on a book when it's not the book itself but the genre/content the reader doesn't agree with. I read a lot of erotic romance and I can't tell you how many times I've come across one-star reviews where the reviewer rates negatively on open-door policy of sex. Or if there is a warning of a rape scene, I've seen negative reviews about that... and not how it was written--the fact that they were subjected to read it in the first place. As a reader, I read the blurb and if I see something that's going to offend me, I don't buy it. I don't get why someone would want to buy a book and then leave a bad review on something they were clearly warned about. It's like buying a gay erotic romance and then complaining there's anal sex. *shakes head*

Okay... I'm getting off my soapbox now. ;-)


message 49: by Bee (new)

Bee (nbeewrites) M.W. wrote: "I agree that everyone is entitled to his/her opinions. You can't appeal to everybody--with the good comes the bad. Hell, I've gotten a bad review on a book that also received a stellar review in RT..."

That's ridiculous... Why would you even bother to read a book in a genre you don't like? I don't like certain genres, so I don't read it. Period. Why read it and leave a bad review because you don't like the genre/content? That's just... ridiculous, like I said.


message 50: by M.W. (new)

M.W. Muse (mwmuse) | 13 comments Bieke {Istyria book blog} wrote: "M.W. wrote: "I agree that everyone is entitled to his/her opinions. You can't appeal to everybody--"

I know, right? I can see accidentally buying something or grabbing a freebie and not realizing it's not your taste... but why then continue to read it and leave a bad review? Just seems like such a waste of time. I love to read. If I stumbled upon something that isn't what I want, I move on to something else. *shrugs*

I do read reviews, and I do go by some of them when deciding what I'm going to buy next... but I never forget they are highly subjective by nature. Reading reviews is just one factor I utilize when making a purchasing decision.


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