I love to read and I read a lot of books. Lately though, I’ve been disheartened by how many poorly written or just plain boring self-published books I’ve read. Six self-published books in a row now and they were all big let-downs in one way or another.
I want to be supportive. I want to review other author’s work. But if it is painful to get through, if I have to force myself to open back up your book and read a few more pages each night, if each spelling error or grammatical mistake jars me out of my train of thought, I can’t (and shouldn’t) give you a good review.
The Decision to Not Write Negative Reviews
I’ve gone back and forth on the question of negative reviews for a while now. If I wasn’t writing my own work, I might feel differently. Social media, opinion pieces, and online comments seem to devolve into negativity more often than not. I don’t want to contribute to that negativity. I want to stay positive. I work hard to stop myself from complaining on Twitter or trashing something with an online comment.
You might say, if you don’t warn people about a bad book that you’ve read, then you’re doing a disservice to the reading community. There is some truth to that. But I don’t necessarily see my job as a voice of warning. If I’m honest, I probably dislike as many things as I like. I’m old enough to have realized that my personal tastes are not all encompassing. So if I’m going to spend the time to write a review, it needs to be a four or five star (out of five) review or I’m just not going to write it.
That gives great books another positive review in their quill while not hurting authors that are still working on their craft and almost certainly will improve.
3 Reasons Not to Write Negative Reviews
1) There’s already enough negativity online.
I don’t see any reason to contribute to the negativity that already permeates the Internet. Spend five minutes reading the comments (talkbacks) on aintitcool.com and you’ll realize what Obi-Wan Kenobi meant when he said, “you’ll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.”
2) I don’t want to hurt other authors who are still growing.
It is entirely possible in some cases that their writing just didn’t connect with me and other readers may love it. If nothing else, then the current work I’m not fond of is a stepping stone to growth as a writer and greater writing down the road so I don’t want to hurt the chances of this writer to find readers later if they read negative reviews now. We can all improve.
3) I want to stay positive.
I want to keep my online “brand” (and who I really am as a person) as positive as possible. Dwelling on the negative only brings me down. I don’t mind reading poor work only because it helps me to be a better writer by noticing how I might have done things differently and not making the same mistakes. But that’s something I mentally note, not something I need to blare with a megaphone to the world.
I actively keep my Goodreads author profile updated with my latest reads and now I’m going to have to be a little more careful, especially when it comes to self-published authors because if it isn’t great, it isn’t going on my “read” list with a review.