STOP! Do NOT Talk to the Book Reviewers!!!

I found this blog on responding (or rather, not responding) to negative book reviews interesting, as the primary topic of my own blog is book review.
About a month into this blog, I recall coming to a point where I pondered whether I was being “fair and balanced” with my book reviews, as any regular visitor to my blog may have noticed that my reviews, while they may contain some constructive criticism, are for the most part positive. This struck me as I was struggling through a lengthy book that is in dire need of editing, but I am determined to finish at some point and plan to write a very constructive review after first contacting the author to let him know that I did still enjoy the reading and that it’s “nothing personal.”
As a former news reporter, this decision to talk to the author (and possibly give him the “veto” on my posting of the review, which will have a lot of negative points) gave me pause to wonder how fair I was being to the readers of my blog.
But after careful consideration of my overall blog theme and also how I was approaching this situation, I realized that it’s really different than that. Because it is my blog, and not an assignment, and I select the material reviewing, I simply don’t read a book if I don’t get some enjoyment out of it. And if I don’t read it, I don’t review it. Ergo, the reviews on my blog will almost always reflect the positive if I’m reading a book for my own personal pleasure and reviewing the books I’ve read to share with others.
Being a former journalist myself, I certainly understand that in the professional review game, a book may be an “assignment” rather than a pleasure, and even if a reader turns every page and sees every word, they may not enjoy each of the books they are required to read.
But it is my hope that for those of us whose reviews aren’t bound by some sense of duty to be professional, that we can follow the old adage, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” After all, why force yourself to read something you’re not enjoying when there are so many other options? And how can you post an honest review of something you’ve never read?
The first thought that crossed my mind when I saw this blog post, although not specifically mentioned, was Lynn Shepherd’s attack on J.K. Rowling in the Huffington Post ( ). In my opinion, this type of review should absolutely never happen – Shepherd explicitly states in her piece that she has never read any of Rowling’s works, nor does she intend to.
So as the author of this blog calls for authors to quit responding to negative reviewers, I also call for reviewers to consider whether their negativity is fair before posting a public attack.
What are your thoughts on “negative” book reviews?


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