Mary's Minute: Why I don't write negative reviews


Thanks for joining me for another Mary's Minute! Today's topic is one that I wrestle with constantly. We're talking 1 star reviews. 

Bloggers get access to a fair amount of free books and work with publishers and authors to promote those books. So what happens when you don't like the book? Do you review or do you not review? THAT is the question. Personally, I refuse to post a 1 or 2 star review on my blog. Plenty of bloggers do, and that's cool; no judgment from me. I'm just going to give you my personal reasoning for not enjoying writing them.

A preemptive note:
This post is regarding negative reviews of books that I don't like/just don't work for me. I am NOT talking about reviews that point out harmful representation of marginalized characters and communities such as that famous review of a book that rhymes with Flack Snitch.  

Why I don't post negative reviews:
I refuse to post negative reviews (I consider 1 and 2 stars to be negative with 1 meaning I hated/really disliked the book, and 2 meaning it was meh) here on Mary Had a Little Book Blog not because I'm afraid of angering an author or a publisher. Instead, it's more that I don't think of myself as being in the business of telling people what not to read. I've always been the girl who people ask what to read. Not just my family and friends, although they do ask my opinion frequently, but also random people in bookstores. I guess it's an air I give off that says, "I know books." I absolutely never grab a book and say, "Ugh. This one is TERRIBLE and I hated it." That's so stupid and utterly pointless. I'd much rather grab a book that I loved and say, "This is wonderful! You should read it."

I once read that there are something like 100,000 members of the Screen Actors Guild, which is basically Hollywood's union. Of that 100K, only 2,000 members make their living acting on screen. The remaining 98% must supplement their acting income with jobs like waiting tables or modeling or whatever. I presume being an author is kind of like that. There are a handful of  NYT best-selling authors who get 7 figure book deals and sometimes 7 figure movie deals to go with. You know who those authors are; I don't have to tell you. But so many others don't have that. They not only have to fight for sales but they often have to fight just for marketing and publicity from their own publisher. It's very dog-eat-dog so many authors also have to have another source of income. This might be a spouse who works, but there are many writers who balance their writing with a full-time job.

Ain't nobody got time for that:
I can post only so many reviews on my blog a year. Last year, it was about 30. I don't want to waste precious review posts on talking about how much I dislike a book. Same goes for Amazon. I would hate if someone was on Amazon, about to buy a book, when they see my 1 star review blasting that author and that book for how awful it was. I don't want to ever be in a position where I am taking sales away from someone. While I may not like a book, that's not to say that someone else won't like it. My favorite comments are those that come from my blog readers saying that my review helped them decide TO read a book. If I ever received a comment saying, "Thanks for sharing. I will never pick that book up," I think I might actually die. 

I know there's this whole thing where it's fun to laugh at absurd 1 star reviews. I'll admit, I've read some good ones, such as this gif-tastic review of Fifty Shades of Grey (fun fact: it's Goodreads's most popular review). Romance reviews in particular are rib-tickling. But these in-jest reviews really depend on the writing ability of the person writing them. There is a line between making fun and being cruel, and I think a lot of people don't know exactly where that line is. Sometimes, I make mistakes when I don't recognize that line either. So, to make sure I never make that mistake when it comes to blogging, I choose to stay as far away from it as possible. YMMV.

Now, this is just on my blog and on retailer websites. Goodreads is its own beast entirely and is subject for another post on another day, but for the record, I actually am okay posting my negative reviews there. Yes, even with the negative review controversy that pops up on GR every now and then. But again, that's for another time.

I want to know what you think. Is my review policy insane? What are your feelings about negative reviews?

4 comments:

  1. Interesting and definitely a good point! I post a lot of reviews each year but usually in shorter round-ups. I review probably 80% of the books I read each year too. I do it primarily to keep track of feelings for ME to look into later, since my memory is GARBAGE and it's easier to search for books on my blog than Goodreads for specific reviews/keywords. I like writing negative reviews sometimes because it's a catharsis for me to get out the bad feelings haha. I try to be super objective though and explain why I personally didn't like it but why others might.

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    1. I definitely review most of the books I read, but on Goodreads. THAT is where it's just for me keeping track of things (lol at past me that HATED writing GR reviews, and now I can't remember them). But my blog is where I'm putting my stamp of approval on a book and telling people I WANT YOU TO READ THIS.

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  2. I don't post bad reviews either. I know how difficult it is just to write, let alone get someone to publish it and then sell your work. Plus, if a book is that bad in my own opinions, I've already stopped reading it. Maybe it just wasn't right for me and someone else will love it. I do love to gush over books I adored and that made me think about the world and my life differently.

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    1. I am (mostly) completely unable to DNF books so I tend to finish books I don't like, but yeah. If I don't like them, I don't care to give them a platform on my blog or give them any of my time and effort.

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