We have all been there. We finish a title we need to review and we simply did not enjoy it. It can be a difficult spot. I know many of you are pros at tackling those less than stellar reviews, but if you are like me, it did not always come easy. I can still remember the first time I completed an ARC and felt disappointed and completely terrified of the negative feedback I had to address. It was overwhelming.
Jump forward nearly 2 years, and I have convinced myself that I might have a handle on the situation. But getting to this point truly was a process of trial and error. I can still look back at older reviews and cringe and shudder. It has taken hundreds of posts, multiple publishing contacts (and lengthy discussions with contacts), and a continuous assessment of follower reaction to develop an approach I feel comfortable with. I will not say it has been perfected, because life (blogging included) is one huge work in progress! Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to you.
So how do I do it? Today I thought I would share a few tips I find useful for keeping even these most negative book reviews more positive. Please share your own as well!
Handling Negative Book Reviews
- Skip the star ratings – Okay, there is nothing wrong with stars. I still apply them to retail sites that require them and know many bloggers who utilize them beautifully. But for me, there is nothing more detrimental than slapping 1 or 2 stars right on a book review. Many bloggers have given them up for great reasons. Not only does the removal help reduce the harsh impact, but it encourages readers to actually read your review. It is too easy to see that a reviewer deemed a book 3 stars and move on. But without them, you kind of have to work for their thoughts 😉
- Itemize pros and cons – This is my favorite. Lists are fantastic in the fact that they really help us break down the material, often making it easier to find a few positives that we may have overlooked. And even it if is as simple as noting beautiful cover art, each additional item included in the pros can really help offset a bit of the cons.
- Seek balance – This is an important but sometimes impossible one. I always aim to provide a review that equally addresses the good and bad of each title reviewed. Unfortunately, there will not always be enough “good” to do this. Give it your best, and feel good knowing you were fair about the process.
- Do not let it become personal – I cannot stress this enough. I have seen it happen, and it is not pretty. Review the book, the story and your time with it, not the author and people behind it.
- Send feedback directly to the publisher – On the rare occasion that I find myself unable to finish a review copy or pull enough positive from the work to offer an insightful review, I opt to contact the provider directly instead. I have found this to actually be well received many times and appreciated.
- Short and sweet – If in doubt and you feel you must post a review, but are struggling to not completely rip someone’s work to shreds, favor brevity. Not all reviews need to be 1000+ words. Simplicity can be your friend.
- Target an ideal audience – Maybe you did not like the book, but you know fans of similar titles or series may. Acknowledge that and recommend the book to them!
- Be honest – This is the most important and easiest part of reviewing books. It is okay to dislike a title and your readers deserve to know you did not and why. So the next time you are writing that less than stellar review about a largely popular title (I’m so sorry Cruel Prince) just remember how appreciated your honesty is!
How do you handle negative reviews? Maybe you enjoy writing the more difficult reviews. Drop a line in the comments and share some tips or thoughts!