Last week a debate broke out after someone Tweeted lines from a novel they weren’t enjoying. Fans of the author in question got completely up in arms about it saying that if the person didn’t like the book she should just put it down and that if she didn’t have anything nice to say about the book she shouldn’t say anything. I have to admit, that really wound me up.
Personally I believe that if you are able to write reviews of good books and are happy to post them up then the same should be done for bad books. It’s not about being nasty unnecessarily, and it’s not about intentionally hurting the author, it’s about being an honest book reviewer. You can’t run a website where every single review you post up is a good one, because otherwise your site will lose all credibility. There has to be a balance there somewhere and rating every book highly isn’t balanced, it’s biased. The whole point of running an online book review site is to provide balanced reviews.
I do believe that it’s above and beyond the call of duty to actually tell an author you’ve written a bad review, there’s no need to run salt into the wounds after all. But I do think lower rated books should be reviewed on all book sites. I myself don’t particularly enjoy writing bad reviews, but I know it has to be done. I couldn’t call myself a book reviewer if I just gave up on a book I wasn’t enjoying and didn’t bother to review it. If that day ever comes, I would stop book reviewing. Don’t get me wrong, there are two books that I haven’t finished, but I rarely let that happen because I think it’s wrong. It was just as the time I was busy with work and literally couldn’t see an end in sight for either book.
What makes it even harder to write the more negative reviews is the author’s reaction to them. I regularly see authors complaining on Twitter about a bad review on Amazon or on a website, and that’s wrong. I understand it must hurt to see that someone hasn’t liked your book, but people are entitled to their opinion and it’s wrong to berate them on Twitter for it. Instead of concentrating on the bad reviews, authors should instead accept them the same way they accept the glowing reviews. The fact of the matter is not every book is everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s what makes it exciting. Just because I like one book doesn’t mean I expect everybody else to and it’s wrong of those authors to expect it as well.
I’m not saying accept those reviews that can only loosely be described as reviews, and can sometimes be a personal attack on the author, but don’t lump every single bad review into the same pile. As a book reviewer I try my hardest to make my reviews as concise as possible and if I have to write a bad review, I don’t want to think that some author is going to name-call me because of it. I’m allowed my opinion, and as long as I get that across in a nice way, then there shouldn’t be a problem. If I was vindictive, I could understand an author being annoyed but when reviewers like myself just generally don’t like a book and try to point that out as best they can, they don’t deserve an author’s scorn. Nobody forces them to read them, after all.