Be Our Guest Fridays [6]: To Write or Not to Write Negative Reviews

Posted November 14, 2014 in A Novel Guest / 17 Comments

I am co-hosting Be Our Guest Fridays with Tanya @ Mom’s Small Victories. Tanya’s blog celebrates books, family and life with rheumatoid arthritis…one small victory at a time. Each Friday we will be inviting our favorite bloggers and authors to share a blog post with our readers. Since we have left the floor open for our guests to choose a topic, we hope to share an assortment of posts that will appeal to the various interests of our readers.

When Tanya first opened up her blog to guest posts, and before we became co-hosts of #BeOurGuestFridays, I volunteered to write something for Moms Small Victories. Tanya also said she would post here at My Novel Opinion, and since she is much more organized than me, I have her post to share with you today and mine…well I still didn’t pinpoint what I wanted to write about just yet!

If you are not familiar with Tanya and her blog Moms Small Victories, head over there for a visit, catch up with her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.



To Write or Not to Write Negative Reviews?

If you look at my Book Reviews by Rating Index, you’ll see that 51 of the 54 reviews I have written are 3 stars (I liked it) to 5 stars (I loved it). Is that because I love every book I read? Hardly, I have read 208 books since joining Goodreads and starting book blogging and only choose to write reviews on the ones that I truly enjoy or if I have agreed to for review purposes.

My Top 4 Reasons Not to Write a Negative Review:

1. I don’t want to waste more time on a book I didn’t enjoy.
I only rate books I have read cover to cover. I’m a slow reader. If I’ve already invested a week in agonizing through a book, why spend another agonizing 4 hours on writing a blog post to tell everyone how much I didn’t like it?

2. My parents taught me The Golden Rule.
Remember The Golden Rule? If you don’t have anything nice to say, do not say it at all? It seems to me these days too many people are trying to tear one another down, bring down the competition or seek bad publicity since it is apparently better than no publicity. I REALLY have a hard time writing a negative review. I know how much time I invest in this blog and can admire the courage and time writers spend working on their novels. I do not want to hurt anyone’s feelings, just because their book is not for me does not mean another reader wouldn’t love it.

3. My blog is about celebrating small victories and positivity.
Stressing out about having to write a negative review can send me into a flare from my Rheumatoid Arthritis. Seriously, when I start getting worked up about something, I can feel the stiffness and pain start to permeate my body. If I don’t get the stress under control, I will be laid out on the couch which is of no use to my health or my family’s well-being. It is not worth it to me. We have enough negativity in the media and on the internet, I want to spread good news about books I enjoy to help me focus on the positive. I can say I will not let writing something negative affect me, but I know I’d be kidding myself.

As if getting rude comments from Goodreads members or commenters isn’t bad enough, there was this disturbing Guardian article that Read at Home Mama shared on her Facebook page. I know it’s all over the internet, but Read at Home Mama’s page is how I found out about it. Apparently, the author got a bad review (and by bad, this reviewer seemed heartless and very mean) and proceeded to hunt the blogger down, find her house and call her at work. OMG, really? Mine and my family’s safety is too important to me. We take precautions for online security but hackers are out there for everything. A free copy of a book is not worth a personal confrontation with a disgruntled author or blogger.

The Case for Writing a Negative Review

In all fairness, I’d like to share the other side of the story, bloggers who write quite convincingly that writing negative reviews is important.

Book Bloggers International: Negative Reviews: Constructive Criticism is Key
The Steadfast Reader: How to Properly Write a Negative Review
The Steadfast Reader: Necessary Evil of the Negative Review

Alternatives to Writing a Negative Review

Rather than writing a full negative review, here are some alternatives to writing a negative review:

1. Write mini-reviews. Short and sweet but making it clear the book was not one of my favorites.
2. If it is a review request from author or publisher, let them know I would rate the book a 1 or 2 star and ask if they would like me to post a mini-review or not review at all. I still rate everything on Goodreads.

I think I will be updating my Book Review Policy to reflect how I will handle negative reviews because I do feel pretty strongly about not wanting to do it. I share my honest opinion on every book I read, I do not want to feel guilty for not writing a review when I do not really recommend it.

How do you feel about writing negative reviews? Do you have a post to share about it?

Thanks Helen for allowing me to express my thoughts about negative reviews on your blog today! I’m so glad to be your guest and happy to have you co-host this feature with me!



Thanks Tanya! I loved reading your insight on whether or not we should write negative reviews. I’ve recently read a book that I have no idea how to rate or review, so your tips will come in useful when I decide to tackle that one.


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17 responses to “Be Our Guest Fridays [6]: To Write or Not to Write Negative Reviews

  1. Love this post! My parents taught me to be a positive person, so I don’t like writing negative reviews. If I like a book but have a few very minor negative thoughts (the book started out slow etc.) I’ll add them in my post, but if there’s little I liked about the book I skip a review. I don’t like negativity in my personal life and try to steer clear of negative people. It just doesn’t feel right for me to post negative thoughts of a book that may hurt someone’s feelings.

    • Thanks Vicki for your response. I was nervous posting this cause I figured I was in the minority about not wanting to post negative reviews. My blog is to celebrate things that make me happy so I only fully write a review on the books I want to recommend to my readers. Glad to hear you are promoting positivity in your life, I used to be a pessimist and my blog has helped me with focusing on the positive.

  2. Interesting timing! I just wrote up a description of my review ratings system and discussed the fact that I generally don’t write reviews for books I didn’t like or didn’t finish. I am very picky in terms of what I choose to review, so I rarely get books that I really didn’t like. But when I do, I generally just put it aside and don’t bother with a review. If I liked it enough to finish it, I will write a review, but I try to put some sort of positive spin on it if it wasn’t great.

    • That is quite a coincidence Julie! I had written this right after that author stalking article came out but it didn’t post till today 🙂 Glad to hear I am not totally alone in not wanting to post negative reviews. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!

  3. These are really cogent reasons, Tanya. Thanks for articulating them with such conviction. Yes, the Golden Rule–nice to affirm that in the blogging community. I also found your point about time spent very important. I was reading a book yesterday that I felt I ought to review because of its relevance to one of my Fictional 100 characters, and I just didn’t want to keep reading it, so I stopped. Fortunately for its author, it has received praise from other reviewers. This might be called the “cup of tea” reason–not my cup of tea, but may well hit the spot for others. Therefore, better to let others weigh in.

  4. At the risk of seeming “negative”, I’m going to take the other side of the coin here. I do write negative reviews and I think it’s important for the credibility of my blog. How can I expect readers to trust my opinion about a book when I appear to think every book is great? I think most readers outside of the blogging community are unaware that some blogs don’t post negative reviews as a policy. I only learned this after I’d been blogging for a little while and was kind of surprised by it, though I do understand the thinking now that I’ve been in the blogging community a bit longer. Also – I have a really hard time not finishing a book, though I’m trying to get better about this since there are so many books and so little time!
    That being said, I do appreciate the effort and skill that goes into writing a book (even a not so great one), so I try to provide concrete feedback in a respectful way and also share things I did like about the book…and I love April’s posts she did on this topic.
    I do think bloggers need to make the choice that he/she is most comfortable with.

  5. I don’t like writing bad reviews. I had to write one not too long ago about a dietary supplement I tried. I didn’t want to write it, but felt obligated because it made me sick. I mentioned to my readers that everyone’s body is different so my experience might not happen to everyone. Just like if you don’t like a book it doesn’t mean it’s horrible. 🙂

  6. This is a great post summarizing your thoughts. I’m still not sure where I stand on this though.

    I have written negative reviews, some very negative ones, but for the most part I try to be positive.

    Sometimes I have seen books that I didn’t care for too much being liked and appreciated by other readers, and oftentimes I think it’s not the books, it’s just me being a bit jaded. Recently, I read The Goldfinch, a book I liked a lot, but would have liked a lot more if I hadn’t read a similar book last year.

    So, what I am trying to say is I know I can never objectively review a book, there is always some personal back story that influences whether I like or dislike a book, and I try to bring out that in my review, so hopefully the reader can know why I like or dislike a book and then make a decision to read based on my experience.

  7. I think as bloggers we have a responsibility to review honestly so if we don’t include negative reviews it feels like we are censoring that honesty.

  8. Great post, Tanya! It is a difficult question… and as a writer myself, the negative review is always something I fear (I’m only human! 🙂 ). It sounds perfectly fine to me if you prefer focusing on books you like rather than writing about ones you don’t. I’m not a reviewer, but when I do write about books, I, too, prefer writing about ones I’ve enjoyed!

  9. Great points. I don’t relish writing negative reviews, but I do. I think honesty is important and I want to know if someone doesn’t like a book and why. When I look at a book to see if I want to review it, I read the 2 and 4 star reviews. I think they’re the most honest. Negative reviews don’t have to be mean. You can state why you don’t like a book or have a mix of positive and negatives in it, but you don’t have to be mean. For writers, negative reviews are part of the deal. I get that it’s hard to pour your life and soul into a book and then put yourself out in front of an audience. But, a writer can’t expect that every person will love their book as much as they do. And really, if I see a book that only has 4-5 star reviews, I am skeptical. I’ve written a couple of posts on the subject and I’ve learned a lot over the years about writing reviews. I think that balancing positive and negative is important.

    2 Kids and Tired Books: Honesty
    2 Kids and Tired Books: Sunday Salon-Honesty

  10. […] As you may know from last week I’m retiring from hosting the Spread the Love Linky Party – but the amazing Nishita is taking over the reins! Head on over there and link up the bookish fabulousness!  Spread the Love at Nishita’s Rants and Raves!  For the sake of finishing what I started, last week the most clicked on line was:  My Novel Opinion’s guest post from Tanya at Mom’s Small Victories on to write or not to write a negative review!&… […]

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