Let’s discuss: should we not write bad reviews?

Should we only write positive reviews


I’m a member of quite a few author groups, genre groups, avid reader groups and blogging groups on Facebook. It’s where my inner fangirl gets to let loose, and share her squee’s and plausible twists with other fans. And I love it. There’s nothing like discussing how I think a plot twist might play out, or who’s the character behind the initials, who’s going to open the door, and find out if other readers also thinks a certain character is behaving dodgy. Seriously, I can spend hours doing it without realising it’s time for bed.

Recently I have noticed something new happening, well I suppose it’s not really new. But it’s new to me. So please just give me that one, lol. Anyway, a lot of people have voiced their opinion saying, that they find it rude to write negative book reviews. Some have even gone so far, to call it “hating on the author”. And I’m honestly stunned! At first it only crept into author groups, where fans were defending authors books and stuff like that. Let me just clarify right away: I haven’t noticed any authors making such comments. I’ve only heard them maybe say they’ve been saddened by a negative review, but never seen them ask not to receive them.

But as a book blogger who reviews books, I’m honestly puzzled by this idea that only positive reviews should be written. I mean if you’ve read my The Pawn (Endgame #1) review, you’ll know that I found this book through a negative review. Sure, when I decided to read it my intentions and expectations were far from pure. I’ll admit, I picked it up and figured I’d get a good laugh from it.


Conversation with Sara before reading the Pawn by Skye Warren


But the joke was on me! Because I actually enjoyed the series. If Sara hadn’t posted her review, just because it was negative, I might never have heard about it.

This is not the first time this happens to me. I’ve also had people tell me that books I’ve disliked, have ended up being their favourites. And this is not even weird to me, because just as every writer is different, same goes for every reader.


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Another argument I want to explore is this: If you only write or allow positive reviews, you’re manipulating the system!

Yes, I firmly believe that. Without going into different websites algorithms, it is obvious that if only positive reviews were posted you’d not get an accurate idea of how well a book actually does. While it may boost authors confidence, it would also remove the authors option of learning from mistakes – which we all know can be quite handy. Sometimes you’ll see that a book is doing poorly on the rating scale, if there’s too many mistakes/errors. I’d think that would be something the author would really want to know.

I have previously talked about, and even interviewed INDIE authors about, how reviews impact them in my Let’s talk about the importance of reviews. I have also received a message from an author, asking me not to tag them on Twitter if the review was negative. This I can completely understand and when she kindly asked me, I couldn’t even understand I hadn’t thought about that myself. Newbie mistake that’s since been corrected! But note this: she never asked me not to post negative reviews!!


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Lets chat

How do you feel about writing negative reviews? Do you shy away from it? Or do you feel like it’s a fair part of the cycle of publishing and reviewing? Let’s chat in the comments.


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25 thoughts on “Let’s discuss: should we not write bad reviews?”

  1. I’ve never understood why anyone would think that a negative review was “mean”. We leave negative reviews all the time – on movies, restaurants, retailers – based on our experiences, so why would a book be any different? I’m quick to tell my friends when I don’t enjoy something on a menu, and I’m also quick to explain why a book didn’t work for me.

    That being said, just because a book didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean it won’t work for others. I often like to read the negative reviews to uncover what the reader didn’t enjoy, and then I make my own assessment. Insta-love isn’t a make or break for me – when it’s done well, I can really enjoy it. But I know others really dislike it – and that should be reflected in our separate opinions of our reading experiences.

    There’s so much more that shapes our opinion of a book than the content/writing style of the book. Every experience that has brought us to the moment we are reading a specific book will shape how we feel about it – and that’s going to be different for everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well said, Kelly! Each review is just one person’s opinion. And you’re spot on with all the different things recommend, maybe without thinking about it. And even more importantly, as each reader is different, different reviews will appeal to us.

      Like you I read negative and positive reviews. I probably pay most attention to the negative, to see what it is people disliked. From that I can then make an informed decision 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve posted negative reviews, but I’m not mean about it and I don’t attack the author in any way. Plus, I try and focus on some positives too or what OTHER people might like. I’ve found books from negative reviews too. You just don’t know what will appeal to one person, even if it’s something another reader hated. Plus, reviews are for the readers – they aren’t for the author. So you definitely don’t want to tag them or generally let them know the review is there. If they want to find it, they can, but many don’t care to read reviews.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for commenting, Lauren. I usually tag authors for 4 or 5 heart reviews, just because. And the ones I ARC and beta read for, get it sent on email. Up to then whether they feel like reading or not 🙂 but I agree, reviews are for the reader and not the author.


  3. Personally, I do not like writing negative reviews just because I feel bad I know how much work is put into a novel. But with that said I find them a must. If all you see is positive reviews and you did not like the book, then you feel alone and don’t understand why you are are the only person that felt that way. I think that the thing that needs to be noted is that all reviews should be tasteful. There is no reason to outright hate on a book or the author which I have seen and this may be some of what people begin complaining about. Sorry, I hope this makes sense its really late and now I am going to bed 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This makes a a lot of sense, so don’t worry about that 🙂 I also agree there is and most definitely should be a fat line between hating and critiquing.

      But then again, just to play the devil’s advocate here….. no one accuses others of gushing, praising and adoring books too much. Or personally praise the author for writing such a good.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. There’s no point in reviews at all if only the positive ones are allowed! I think negative reviews are as valid as positive ones, providing the reviewer explains why they didn’t like it in a constructive way rather than just saying they hated it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh i don’t know. I think everyone should write whatever they want/feel like. Authors and reviewers included.

    People have different tastes, and not everyone is going to like the same thing. It doesn’t mean that thing is bad. I read quite a few books this year i didn’t enjoy – and i posted my negative review. But there were quite a lot of people who actually liked it, and neither review is more valid than the other.

    Once i figure out who has similar taste to me, it’s easier to pick my next book, cuz if they didn’t like a book, chances are i won’t like it either.

    I don’t think having an opinion is rude.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I like this, Norrie. An opinion is neither rude nor wrong. Of course the way you voice it could be either, but that doesn’t warrant enough reason to not tell others what you like or dislike if you can do it in a proper way.

      I’m the same with reviews. As mentioned a blog buddy had a book she didn’t like at all, I loved it. That’s what happens all the time with individual taste. And to me that’s okay.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I’m going to be a bit of a cheat and copy most of my comment to Shalini’s blog post! But only because it sums up what I think!

    Some of the best and most interesting reviews that I have read are ones which are critical and I, as a reader of other blogs, prefer to read honest opinions. If someone only reviews positively I either think they happen to be very lucky and like a lot more things than I and my critical brain does, are choosing only to post positive reviews (completely their prerogative) or are lying. So as a rule I like to follow people who have a mix because I think that they are being honest and fair and transparent. That is as a reader of blogs.

    As a reader of books and a blogger I too want to be honest and fair and I never shy away from the fact that I am honest on my blog. I am aware that I can be harsh at times but if I don’t like a movie then I’ll say I don’t like a movie. If I don’t like a book then I’ll say a don’t like a book. If someone at work isn’t performing, then they need to be told and developed.

    Publishing and books are a business. A negative review is not going to stop people buying a book. If publishers and reviewers only push positive reviews on a poor book then the audience is going to cotton on. Maybe it also means that publishers need to look at their product because even though we want to romanticise books – they are a product and we are the consumers.

    In terms of authors and how they feel – I get it, I’ve worked hard on stuff and received criticism and it *hurts.* But they either should just ignore it or learn to not read anything negative, take the feedback if many people are saying the same thing, or grow a thicker skin.

    I believe people should review honestly and in a way that suits them and that’s what I said to Shalini also. I don’t particularly like when authors or publishers block or are detrimental to those who post negative reviews and I don’t particularly like when other book reviewers and bloggers bash those that write negative reviews. They are completely within their rights to never follow, never read and post their own content but I don’t agree with the viewpoint that negative reviews should not be disclosed.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Gerry this answer is brilliant! That’s exactly how I feel about it. This post is not about how people write etc. Because I agree, reviews should always be done in a polite and respectful way. Assuming everyone already do that, I don’t see why we shouldn’t be allowed to write what we feel and think. I mean, isn’t that exactly what authors do?
      I also agree that books are a product. Writing is an art form. Both of which are subject to reviews.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think sometimes my reviews aren’t always as polite as they should be as I know that I am prone to ranting when frustrated but that being said, I enjoy when others do a ranty post because I like reading them. I think I’m just a ranty person though. I wouldn’t expect anyone to continue to read a post of mine if they don’t want to!

        I agree, writing is an art form and like with any form of art people won’t always like or love it. But I think that for every person who doesn’t like it there will be someone who will. That being said, there is always critical thinking which could be applied to any form of art! But if I like something I’m not necessarily liking it critically but because it calls to me in some form.

        It’s the same with blog posts though, for every person who doesn’t like a negative review there will be someone who does. I don’t think censure is what should be applied but a ‘live and let live approach.’

        Books are emotive and I think a lot of what it comes down to isn’t a reviewer or blogger acting as guardian for the authors feelings but for their own. The author is probably never going to go looking for negative reviews, if they do there’s a reason.

        I think those that want to inhibit negative reviews are probably concerned that something they love will be shredded by someone else. But I adore many things that are hated by others. If a review is negative and critical I will always read it because I want other people’s opinion and it may highlight some issues that I was blind to see. If I adore something to death and the review is hate filled and ranty, I’ll simply move on!

        I’ve enjoyed the discussion on this topic and reading others thoughts because I find it and interesting and quite ‘hot’ subject of conversation!

        Sorry for the length!


      2. Personally I’m a ranter with a capital R, so I hear you! With that being said I believe you can be polite and rant at the same time, and you are so in the reviews I’ve read. I mean no, they’re not apologising for your point of view. But neither should they because that would directly contradict the point.

        I’m a sucker for the black sheep mentality and under dogs. So if someone shred something to pieces, I’d often read it just because. That’s who I am. I don’t expect everyone to be like that. Honestly that would be too boring! And the same with rosey reviews.

        I’m so happy you and others have participated so much in this post. Because you’re right, it IS a hot topic so it’s so great to hear what everyone thinks about it.

        Liked by 2 people

  7. I think negative reviews are important. I mean, I write negative reviews. If I didn’t like a book, I’ll say it but I make it a point to state why I didn’t like it, what parts didn’t work for me. You’re criticizing not the work, and not the author – take it as constructive criticism.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree! If you write “this is shit” that’s not fair or useful. But then again, plenty write “it’s good” which is equally useless. Just because something is positive doesn’t mean it’s useful!!
      If you’re giving reasons for your opinions, it’s easier for people to make an informed decision and I love reading those reviews.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. If I didn’t like the book, I will say it giving reasons. Books are a luxury for most of us who are outside USA and UK. 1 book = 2 meals.
    So I would like to know which books may not be of my liking if the review has both points. Just gushing reviews help me not. Also I just wrote a post on this, I will write a honest review because Reviews are for other readers not for authors.
    Bosses all over the world see the end result and pull you up when work is bad, they don’t see you or the hard work you have done. When the movie is bad, we do review it as bad. When food prepared in a restaurant, we make a hue and cry. We don’t think about people who actually make it and their circumstances. So if an end project is bad, it is bad. We have to let others know so that they can make an informed decision. This is totally my point of view

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll have to read your post about it, because it’s such an interesting subject. I agree that it’s only fair to be honest. I have yet to hear about a book that everyone loves, because it’s so individual. And to me that’s okay!
      I like your very valid point about the price of books, because that makes it even more important that people are being honest.


  9. I don’t like leaving bad reviews because I feel like I’m being too mean and I don’t like being mean. I usually quietly look the other way but other times I had kind of said what I felt but tried to list one positive thing about it still.

    I think the important key is to not be a jerk about the bad reviews. Cause authors are human too.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. To me, bad reviews is sometimes the elephant in the room. I don’t want to leave a slightly bad review for some of the most really popular books this year because I don’t want to be shunned even though I know I won’t really be shunned, lol.

        For example, I couldn’t get past one major spoiler that I won’t say for My Lady Jane but since it was a personal thing more than anything about the book itself I feel like a DNF review is not necessary. I say my opinion to people in private messages when they ask me though.

        I tend to have a lot of unpopular book beliefs on popular books but 90 percent of the time I do voice them still.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’ve been there where I felt daunted having to be honest and my opinion was unpopular. It’s never fun. However, for me personally I just can’t leave it. I got to get it off my chest. And I always end up thinking that others might think the same, but won’t say something for the same reasons. That usually spurs me on lol

        Liked by 1 person

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