Friday, 4 August 2017

Chuckles Chat #28 Bad Reviews

Welcome to Chuckles Chat where great blogging minds unite to discuss the topics of the day mainly in the book and blogging world. I'll be sharing my thoughts on a topic and then inviting you all to share your thoughts. It's ok to disagree but PLEASE be respectful of each other's views! All of the comments on my blog are moderated and offensive posts ie racist, bigoted will not be published! 

This Week: Bad Reviews 

We all have that moment when we are reading a much anticipated book, taking a chance on a new author or reading something sent by author/publisher...and you are not enjoying it. If like me you are an instinctive DNFer, depending on the situation, you might stop reading it. Or if you don't like to DNF, you might struggle on with gritted teeth to get it done. Whether you finish it or not, you now face writing the Bad Review. I don't know about you but I get nervous when an author asks me to read a book because I might have to write that dreaded BR if I don't like it. If I've bought a book myself, read it and don't like it, I find I can review the book without guilt but I do feel bad when an author has asked me to look at it!

What is a Bad Review? I would say that an author might classify a 1 or 2 star review as a Bad Review or even a 3 if they are very picky. But does a 1 or 2 star review have to be a bad thing for an author? Personally I don't think so. The truth is, if I'm deciding whether or not to read a book, I look at reviews on Goodreads to see what other readers thought of it. I ignore the gushing 5 star reviews that rave about the awesomeness of the author as they don't tell me anything about the book in a serious sense. I look at 1, 2 and 3 star books to see what niggles and issues various readers have with it as these reviews tend to have more information. If a lot of people have the same issues with it, I can pretty much trust that this is accurate and I make my decision.

The making my decision part is based on what information I get from negative reviews. If some people complain that there is a dreadful love triangle and it is very slow, I know I won't enjoy it so why bother starting it? Likewise if the MC is said to be a whiny cow with an arrogant macho love interest, I would body swerve it. The author gets a win here because otherwise I'd have read and DNFed it and gave it my own 1 star review! By using negative reviews of others I can mostly stay away from the stuff I really won't like. It works the other way too. Readers might complain about it being too fast paced with lots of action and gore which would make me more likely to want to read it! 

The important thing I think is to always explain WHY you are rating it 1 or 2 star as that is more important than the actual rating to other readers. I generally give 1 star to books I didn't finish where I had a severe dislike of the characters, where the plot was full of bad tropes, so slow I wanted to go to sleep or where I didn't understand what was going on. 2 star is where it's not a dreadful book and may have decent writing but for various reasons I did not get into it. A confused plot or poor writing is laid at the feet of the author. However characters I hate or slow plot is more about my personal reading tastes and if I say that in my review it might encourage people not put off by those things to go ahead and read it anyway.

I don't like writing negative reviews but I generally try to form it more as constructive criticism and a general chat about why the book was not for me. It helps other reviewers decide if the things that annoyed me would bother them and lets them back an informed decision about whether or not to read it. Book bloggers know that there are so many great sounding books out there and if we can use each other's reviews to avoid the ones with tropes we hate etc, we are more likely to find the ones that suit us. We can't read everything, after all! I don't set out to put people off reading something they thought sounded good but I do want others to go into the book knowing what to expect. That's all I want to do. 

I'm not out to damage sales for authors or anything like that. Mind you, one negative review from a small book blogger like me is not going to break anyone! Authors do need to understand that most bloggers aren't trying to hurt them-they are just giving their own opinion on their enjoyment or otherwise of a book. It is not personal and if authors are going to survive the book industry, they MUST understand that not everyone will like their precious baby, and that screaming at a few reviewers is what will cost them sales, not the review itself. Nobody likes authors who slag off readers, which some authors are slow to learn. Some authors seem to want an 'honest review' but only if it is 4 or 5 star! Bloggers are going to be honest in their reviews and they need to accept that they won't always get what they want. Negative reviews don't generally mean the author is bad, it usually means that the people who have picked it up are not liking it so perhaps better marketing is required. Likewise I think bloggers need to be more constructive with their comments and not personally attack the author as that gives us all a bad name. Authors and readers need each other!  

I received a few books from authors and then had to deliver the dreaded Bad Review and it felt bad as they seemed like nice women. However despite the 2 star reviews, both authors were happy with what I said because I stressed that the writing was good and the books just didn't suit me. Based on these reviews, several of my friends bought and enjoyed both books so everyone was happy in the end. This was an example about authors understanding that not everyone will love the book, and stresses how vital it is for us reviewers to explain the reasons for not liking it. I am always going to be honest in my reviews even if I know the author as that's who I am. I would never guilt-rate something higher because I feel bad as that defeats the purpose of reviewing it!

The point I'm trying to make is that bad reviews can be constructive and helpful if the blogger takes the time to explain their thoughts clearly and that I will look at these reviews to get a better idea of what to expect from the book. It can be a useful tool even if we don't enjoy having to write the things!

Do you stress when you receive books from authors in case you need to write a negative review? Do you have trouble writing them? When you look at reviews which star reviews do you find the most helpful? Do authors get on your back over low star reviews? Do you raise the star rating out of guilt if you like or know the author? 

12 comments:

  1. I've had to write a few bad reviews but on the most part, when I don't like a book, it's rarely because of the writing. Like you mentioned, I didn't connect (or in some cases even like) many of the characters or it contained a trope that drove me batty. Even in my 1 or 2 star reviews, I'm pretty specific about what I didn't like. And I almost always include that the book just wasn't for me, and than I'm sure plenty of other people would like it.

    I love the point you make about a review from bloggers like us probably isn't going to break the book. And if the books is truly awful, I'm sure there will be other poor reviews adding to it. Also, I never slam the author personally. Now I did go as far as questioning the Stephen King blurb/endorsement on the cover of "Final Girls" but King's my buddy (don't I wish?) and I just expected more from him :)

    As always - great discussion my friend!

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    1. Yeah it is rare for me to find a book with really poor writing. I'm much more likely to DNF because I hate the characters or a dreadful unexpected love triangle pops up! Most of the blogs I visit like yours do explain clearly why they didn't like a book and that's always helpful.

      Sometimes I read these authors behaving badly threads and want to say to them 'if you hate these bad reviews so much, write better books!' *grins* It's funny that if the book receives a lot of negative reviews, the author seems to just pick one and go rabid on that!

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  2. Yep, I stress when I accept a book from an author and then it's a bad review. One author emailed me asking why. I mentioned that my review explained why and the author still wanted to argue. Thus, I rarely write bad ones. Just don't review the book at all. Now I'm rethinking that. I should do those low star reviews. My reviews are for other readers after all. For instance, I loved Meg and you didn't. Readers will appreciate the reasons why and make an informed decision about reading it. Great discussion!

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    1. I like other reviewers doing the bad reviews as I do find that helpful, especially bloggers that I follow. It is easier to trust the words of someone you 'know'. It is good to hear the good and bad points other readers think before you make an informed choice on a book! It does get all stressful with review books though.

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  3. One of the reasons I don’t take review requests from authors is because some of them can’t handle bad reviews. I don’t need the stress of an author freaking out on me. I think I’m a pretty tough reviewer. I try to be kind, but if I don’t like something, I don’t sugarcoat it. I can be pretty blunt about what I like and don’t like. I hope that’s helpful for readers who have similar reading tastes to me.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

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    1. One author asked me to review her book as I had a reputation as a tough person to please. This was news to me! I wasn't aware I had a reputation! (This was a few years back when I was reviewing a lot of stuff for authors!) I didn't know whether to be flattered or scared! In the last 18 months I think I've done 2 Netgalley, 3 author reviews. I'm happy to avoid the stress of it too!

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  4. I've actually started getting better at DNFing lately. But anyway, I completely agree. I know many authors don't see it this way, and I understand it's difficult not to be upset by bad reviews, but, as a reader, I think they're important. I rarely even read books at this point if all they have is rave reviews of 4 and 5 stars because I've had such terrible luck with those. Makes me wonder how true all those reviews are.

    Unfortunately there are people out there who won't read a book if they see even one bad review, but I absolutely use negative reviews to help make my decisions. The way I see it, every book will have people who like it and people who don't. But we all have diff taste. I use pos and neg reviews to help me decide if the book will suit MY taste. And like you said, if I end up deciding not to read the book, in the end that IS better for the author bc I would've ended up posting a neg review myself had I read it.

    So yeah, the important thing is to explain WHY. I also try to point out some pos things in all my neg reviews as well. I still don't like writing them, esp if it's a review copy, but I've gotten to the point where I don't stress about them like I used to.

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    1. I never read the gushing 5 star reviews with no basic info about character, plot and pacing. I don't think they are helpful to potential readers or authors seeking feedback. 2 star reviews are very helpful though. I think we have more to say when we don't like the books! I wonder if some people write gushing reviews in the hope of getting more free books...I totally agree about how negative reviews help us decide if a book is to our personal taste. I've bodyswerved a lot because of alerts about love triangles, dreadful characters and slow pacing. OK I might have missed out on a few I would actually have enjoyed but I'm ok with that!

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  5. I do the same thing, I often look at lower rated reviews to get a sense of any issues the book may have. 2 and 3 star ones can be especially helpful. And since I mostly read my own books I don't usually have to worry about offending an author or them getting pissy.

    I think a lower starred review, or a "bad" review, can be helpful if only because we're all different. If I read a 2 star review and someone didn't like a book, but they list off things that I normally LIKE, it can get me to buy the book!

    And yes constructive criticism or honesty is fine. the reviews I don't like are the ones where someone says "this book sucks and the author should never write again because they suck blah blah ." i mean come on, be real. :)

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    1. I think it would be more of a shock if the authors of bought books stopped by to talk about the review! I've had a few likes recently from authors passing through on my 3 star reviews. Low star reviews are great for info gathering purposes that's for sure. I agree, personal stick to the author really needs to be toned down-some of it is pretty vile at times.

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  6. I can't tell you how many times I have actually decided to read a book based on a negative review. The same reasons one person hates a book may be exactly what I want to see. I consider 3 stars a good rating. If we gave all the books 4 or 5 stars what would be the point?

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    1. I totally agree with all of your points. There would be no point in reviewing if we all rated that high. And I do wonder that authors moan about 3 star reviews-for me that means I liked it.

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