Monday, September 16, 2013

My Thoughts on Bad Reviews

I've been spending more time on Twitter as of late and there has been quite a hub bub over author's receiving bad reviews of their books. In fact, Chuck Wendig has a great commentary going on his blog. And I love how he so perfectly puts it as "The juice ain't worth the squeeze."

So I'm not a published author, hence I've never received a bad review of my writing (I have gotten some harsh constructive critiques though). But I can imagine that mean or negative reviews probably don't make the author feel too hot. I talk about books on my blog and I never talk about any published works negatively. One time I even had a commenter say that it seems that I only review books that I love. That it just seems like I love everything I read. That maybe I don't have a discerning eye about books.

But, there's a reason for this folks.

For one, I don't do official book reviews here. I call them gossip time posts for a reason. I like to gossip about books that move me. Books where I think about the characters long after I've finished the last page. Books that I want to read over and over again (Confession: I've read and listened to Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins at least five times each in the past six months. And that's just in the past six months. I don't even know how many times I've listened or read to these novels since their publishing birthdays).

So if I gossip about a book over here I usually really really like it. If I don't gossip about a book maybe it didn't really move me, or maybe it did move me, but I was just too busy too gossip about it. But I just don't see the point in talking about books negatively. As any aspiring writer, I read and listen to audio books in massive quantities, and by doing so I've become quite picky. And I can actually understand why agents and editors end up rejecting as many manuscripts as they do. You end up developing a select taste. I may start a book and after five pages I may decide I don't want to read it anymore. Does it make it a bad book? No, absolutely not. It just mean's that it's not up Anita's quirky alley. But the same book may end up being something that someone else is going to repeatedly read until the binding cracks and the pages start falling out. So why would I want to say something negative about a book I didn't like (or why would I even want to read an entire book I didn't like just so I can say negative things about it) because it could potentially cause a reader to miss out on a novel that moves them? I don't want to be the reason someone doesn't discover their Anna and the French Kiss. (Please note that I do read more things than just Stephanie Perkins).

I don't want to be the reason that someone misses out on a book that they uniquely connect with. Because, hey, we all connect with different things.

The other reason I don't believe in speaking ill of another author or their work is because of in my profession (outside of the awesome world of writing) there is a rule that you never ever put down another professional in your field. You can listen to other people complain about the professionals they work with but you, yourself, should never be the one to dole out the criticism of another person in your field.

It's just unprofessional.

There's a fine line between discussing the qualities of a novel and its author versus an outright bashing. Bashings are bad. And for the author to respond to said bashing, well, I'd like to fall back on Chuck Wendig's motto: "The juice ain't worth the squeeze."


  1. Love Chuck's motto! :) I never talk about books I don't like either. If I don't like a book or writing style, that doesn't mean someone else won't love it. :)

  2. Totally agree with you. You're just taking a quick, lighthearted look at books, not some in-depth critical analysis of "the text."

    There are plenty of places for those kinds of reviews.

    I hope you have been doing well.

  3. Love this! I founded Project Middle Grade Mayhem, and we all agreed to put up only positive reviews and focus on the things we liked about a book. Literature is so subjective, and like you said, we all should be professional, published or not. I'd never openly talk ill of a coworker. I'm not going to do it with a fellow author either. We all work too hard as writers for that. :)