Wednesday, November 18, 2015

#BookBlogWriMo - Day 13 - How do I Approach Writing Negative Reviews

This is an interesting topic, since I know there are people out there that will not write negative reviews at all, and that's fine, that's their choice. I personally think that negative reviews are a necessary evil. Amazon and Goodreads give us 5 stars to choose from for a reason. Would you refuse to post a negative review for a video game that provided a horrible playing experience for you with no redeeming characteristics to speak of? Probably not (I wouldn't, but I don't play many video games.) That video game is actually not a whole lot different than a book as a product. A team of people spent hours upon hours writing the code, creating the storyline, etc. just like authors spend hours upon hours writing and editing their books. Not every video game is for every gamer and not every book is for every reader. That's just a fact. And sometimes you're going to buy a book that you anticipate liking, and it bombs for you. At that point, if you write reviews, you should go ahead and write your review, because reviews are for other readers, not authors.

So how do I approach writing negative reviews? I actually find negative reviews easier to write than positive ones. With negative reviews I have stuff to say without having to worry about giving spoilers or feeling like I may come off sounding insincere (I mean, I can only say OMG this is the best book ever so many times before y'all will stop taking me seriously.) I also tend to take a more analytical approach to my reviews, particularly the negative ones. I know there are some people that don't think books should be "graded" on things like spelling and grammar, but those things are genuinely important to me. Spelling and grammar errors take me out of the story and my mind picks up on them even when I'm totally engrossed in what's going on. I do know that mistakes will still happen though because everyone involved in the editing process is human and humans make mistakes (even I make mistakes and I like to pass myself off as an unfeeling robot), so I have an error threshold.

When writing a negative review I try to emphasize that certain things were an issue for me, including the number of spelling and grammar errors. The things that I don't like in books may not be and issue for others, or may be things that they really enjoy. Does that mean that I'm wrong or they're wrong? Of course not, because art is subjective. Perhaps I thought the main character was a whiny little brat where you would find a young woman just trying to learn how to adult that you really relate to. (And no, I don't know what that has to do with how I approach writing negative reviews. Just go with it.)

But even when writing a negative review, I try to include positive aspects of the book as well. Things that stood out to me as being particularly good or that I liked. I feel that it is important to also list the good things about my experience when I can, otherwise the review may come off as bashing (although I often wonder if people think my negative reviews come off that way regardless because I'm really just a blunt person.)

So what are your thoughts on negative reviews? - Katie 

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