I posted my first bad review (2 or less stars) on this blog yesterday, and it was a bit of an internal struggle for me before I did so. By nature, I am not a mean or petty person. I wrestled with trying to decide if posting a bad review is mean, if it is constructive, and if it benefits anyone. Here is what I decided and why.
Is it mean?
Yes, no, and it depends. Again, it is not in my nature to be that way so I hope the way I write a bad review doesn’t come across that way. I have posted bad reviews on Goodreads and Amazon where there majority of readers posted good reviews. I have also posted good reviews when there were many negative reviews. To each his own. One thing I do when I post a lower scoring review is give concrete reasons. I cannot stand when I see reviews that say things like, “there was too much swearing” or “I don’t like mysteries”. Those are reasons to dislike a book, sure. But those are not reasons to say a book is bad or the writing is bad. If the writing is bad PLUS your other reason, okay. Otherwise, it is not fair to the author or readers who do enjoy the genre and want to see honest reviews.
Is it constructive?
There is criticism and there is constructive criticism. Nobody learns anything from straight criticism, and generally the person doing the criticizing is the one who comes out looking bad. With constructive criticism one hopes to help others to understand what when wrong. Maybe there are a lot of editing errors but the writing is excellent. I would hope this would help the author/publisher/editor be a bit more cautious before they publish their next work.
Does it benefit anyone?
As I said above, hopefully if the review is seen by the author it will help with future works. But a thoughtful review, no matter the rating, can help other readers. Maybe you can handle a lot of editing errors and you decide you will read the book anyway because the reviewer says that’s the only thing that was wrong with the book. So, as you can see, a not-so-good review can help on both ends.
I hope that my reviews never come across as mean-spirited. And I hope that if they ever do someone will call me on it so I can rectify the situation.
What do you think of low rated reviews? Do you read them? Do you use them to help you make decisions on your books?