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Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Will You Only Review a Good Book?

Recently, over the last month or so, I have read quite a few online articles about book review trolls. Trolling, as the word is best known, is all about writing things to provoke people and deliberately upset them. And I feel this Internet phenomenon is only expanding as the years go by.

Trolling started out with creating abusive comments and leaving them on tribute sites to intentionally hurt bereaved families. I think this particular matter is one of the most savage and evil things to be born out of Internet usage, along with child porn, terrorist websites and other nasty issues. The Internet certainly has a lot to answer for in this modern age.

But sometimes people can take matters like these a little too much to heart. Of course, most people don't want to be nasty just for the sake of it but what do they do when they are asked to write a review for a product that they simply didn't like or couldn't stand? Do they just write down their opinions without a worry in the world, or do they point blank refuse to write a review unless it is positively gushing?

Goodreads is a site that comes to my mind when thinking of a place where nasty 1 star reviews are more common than a cold. But I don't think people should live in fear of being called a troll just because they want to give a low star rating.

When I first started out as a writer I was very conscious of this fact. I always lived by the rule of never giving a book a review unless I liked it. But now I think I am changing my views after reading some appalling books myself. And these books are not even written by an unknown indie authors: they are written by world famous best sellers!

This subject, when I think about it in detail, raises another question. Am I more likely to give a low review to a best selling author than a struggling indie? And I suppose I am.

I'm not saying this is right but I can't help but think that a low review is not going to affect these world famous best selling authors half as much as it potentially would an unknown indie.

My first book in particular has got some pretty nasty reviews but I think their content has actually helped sell the book so in some cases they actually works in the authors' favour. I suppose I would write a low review of an indie author if their book is formatted terribly or has so many spelling errors and grammatical issues that it's almost impossible to read. But again I think that mentioning these things would only help the author because at least they would be aware of them.

So, what do you do? Do you only write reviews of books you liked?


  1. As an indie author I am also very aware of how much extra effort and time goes into producing an indie book. Not only the writing itself, but in most cases, the cover art, promotion and marketing as well as the formatting - it is all up to the individual. Because of this I tend to not write a review if I am inclined to give it less than 3 stars. If I have been given a free book in exchange for an honest review I will write the review but if it is less than a 3 star I will email it to the author - it is up to them whether to publish it or not.

  2. I used to do more reviews than I do at present - and one of my rules about committing to do a review was that I wanted to look at a couple of chapters first, such as what was in the Amazon Look Inside feature. Life was too darned short to burn my time reading an awful book. The couple of times I omitted to do this, I lived to regret, for the books were truly awful, and I really regretting having to say so in a review.

  3. Hi Debbie,

    I know a lot of writers who do this. I think it's a very fair practice.


    I suppose that's the thing about reviewing books - you'll certainly come across the bad ones.

  4. I think I mostly review when I have a strong urge to say something about the book - this is usually when I feel the book is good. However, I would leave a bad review if I think the book doesn't deliver what it says it will - mostly non-fiction, perhaps. I might mention personal taste in a review, but this won't effect the star-rating I give something as I don't think this is helpful to potential readers or the author. In other words, a perspective on personal and objective comments in useful.

    I think it is important to phrase negative reviews with tact. After all, there is a PERSON behind the book, and I wouldn't dream of being cruel to someone's face, so I wouldn't be cruel to them online either. There's a difference between writing scathing reviews and writing negative reviews.

  5. Hi Sophie,

    I have had a lot of comments about this blog and most writers think the same way you do. If you are going to give a review I think tact is essential.

    Thanks for commenting.

  6. In my opinion, it is quite sad that some have nothing better to do than to troll online and reek havoc on the internet. However, should this take away from the reviewers whom provide constructive criticism in a positive light?

    I think if a writer goes into writing expecting ONLY five stars reviews, they may find themselves a bit disappointed. The best books have reviews that are not favorable. Do idiots post reviews just for the heck of it? Of course. Im not saying that I think authors should be indifferent about the matter, Im just not sure what job in the world is without criticism.

    Im not published yet, but my day job, I get criticized quite a bit XD Not everyone is going to enjoy a person's work. Sometimes it is just not in a genre they prefer. I recently read a friend's book, and wasnt crazy about it. I tried to pull up all the positive traits the book had, but I still felt I wasnt 100% in my review. Am I helping or hurting her by giving her a review that is not honest?

  7. Hi, thanks for commenting.

    I definitely agree with you here that a writer should never expect just 5 star reviews. If they do then they are a road to nowhere.

    As for you keep on writing! There's no better feeling than having a book that you've written.