A while back I had a conversation with a fellow blogger. We were discussing books and ratings and the blogger, who is also a published author, said something along the lines of:

We shouldn’t say a book isn’t good or give it a bad or low star review because the author worked really hard at writing the book, and those who have never written a book shouldn’t judge.

Here are some things I know:

  1. It is very difficult to write a book.
  2. It is even more difficult to publish a book
  3. No one wants their work criticized

Here are some other things I know:

  1. No one wants to read a bad book
  2. If I am talking about a book I am going to be honest about how I felt about it
  3. My opinion really doesn’t matter in the world of opinions
  4. If you are going to put your work out there, you have to be prepared that someone is not going to like it.

Should we be truthful when reviewing books (or anything else for that matter)?

Should we not give a book a two star review because someone worked hard on it?

How do we feel about reviews, reviewers and criticism in general?

Discuss:

88 thoughts on “What if You Don’t Like It

  1. I think we should be honest in reviews. If a book deserves two stars in my opinion I will give it two stars. If you do anything that will be seen, read, used, eaten, etc. by others you need to be open and prepared for criticism

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I don’t write a review if I don’t like a book. I realize not everyone likes the same thing. So anything under three stars I don’t rate at all. I go with, if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. But that’s just me.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. I’m afraid that if you put any creative work “out there” for sale, whether it’s a book, a film, a painting, or any craft, then there are only two truly meaningful indicators: volume of sales and what people think of it. How hard you worked on it and how much of your heart and soul you invested in it are irrelevant.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I once had a guy reach out to me on my blog who asked me to read his book he wanted to publish. It was so bad I couldn’t even finish it. I did give him some pointers but felt the guy wasn’t meant to be a writer. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that. It was strange because I had no idea who the guy was. As far as I could tell he wasn’t a follower and never commented on my blog. Later he self published the book and wanted me to give him a 5 star review on Amazon. I wouldn’t do it.

    I was a test reader for a friend of mine and I was able to give her good feedback. I told her when the characters seemed unrealistic and she valued my info.

    In general I do not criticize or review work of others because I feel it’s too subjective. I just got the Goodreads app and I do rate books on there, but it’s mainly for me so I can remember what I read and liked or didn’t like. Back in the day I read many books and always thought I would remember what I read. I don’t particularly like to reread books and sadly shied away from authors I used to like. So a long answer, but rating helps me keep more organized.

    But you are right, an author can’t expect everyone to like their work. Frankly, if their book is big enough to get some negative feedback maybe that in itself is a sign of success. People are paying attention, but not everyone likes the same things.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. You know I already agree with you. It is part of the current thinking that children, for example, should be rewarded with trophies for ‘just showing up’. Also, perception of literature is quite a personal thing and what appeals to one may not to another. It’s what makes book clubs interesting. That a book does not appeal to me is not a sleight against the author it is a personal expression. Mind you with self-published books there are a lot of just poorly written technique things…ah but I digress. Anyway. I agree with you! Chris

    Liked by 4 people

  6. That sounded much like the situation whereby we hand out participation trophies to all so no one feels bad or left out…Of course it’s hard work to write and publish a book, but that doesn’t signify an automatic pass to praise or high marks in a review. That person in particular seems to have a skewed viewpoint and unrealistic expectations. Writing fiction that would please everyone equally and fully is rather a naive way to approach the process.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I think we need to be honest about a piece of work, but we also can be kind. However, criticism should be helpful. And not someone’s sounding board for what’s bothering them.

    And yes, while author’s need to be able to take criticism, their writing is still personal and therefore criticism can hurt. But, basics in storytelling should be adhered to. Three dimensional characters are needed, believable dialogue, spelling and grammar always should be accurate etc. All the essentials need to be included and should be fixed before publication. However, a writer’s personal style of story telling is more of an opinion comment , and not necessarily helpful when reviewing a book. Any well written story may be good. But the plot or theme may not resonate with everyone. For instance, I love when there’s a paranormal element to a novel. Others may hate that sort of fiction. So we shouldn’t judge a book on that basis. If the story works, I try to pick out the positives first when reviewing a body of work. The teacher in me wants to help not hurt writers. But I do want to inform authors if I feel they could do more editing.
    I can’t help it. I want to escape into a story and if I have to stop and make too many corrections in my head, it’s like I am still teaching and grading papers. Then I don’t enjoy the book. It’s no longer entertainment.
    I suppose my critiques are pretty much written like I was still teaching. I pull out the positives and if I see shortcomings I will mention those only if I think it is helpful to improve the author’s finished product.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Agreed..it shouldn’t be hurtful, but just explaining why you did or didn’t like something is helpful to someone who might want to read the book

      Like

  8. I give all kinds of stars depending on how the book makes me feel. I am reviewing the story not the author or the time or handwork. I commend everybody’s handwork. Ratings are everywhere. We do that with restaurants, my boss does this with my work. The chefs too work hard, my boss has seen the kind of time and energy I have put in the work. But if the final work is not up to his liking, he will make a note of it.

    And the reviews are not for the author. They keep thinking it is for them. It is actually for other readers, and some may like a book and some may not. If an author can learn from the reviews, then it is good. If he or she wants to feel put out about such reviews, then they should publish the book for select audience, namely their friends and family and be happy with the reviews they get from them. Why release it to the world? If something is made public, there will be all kinds of reviews. Whining about 2-star reviews is a waste of everybody’s time.

    When I wrote a book, my family thought it was crap… Ah well, it was.

    Liked by 5 people

  9. Honest feedback from the reader helps a writer identify what resonates with their audience and what doesn’t. The application of knowledge gained through constructive criticism will sharpen the writer’s skills. For this reason, I do think readers should be honest with their feedback, so long as it comes from a constructive standpoint that’s not mean-spirited.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. “We shouldn’t say a book isn’t good or give it a bad or low star review because the author worked really hard at writing the book, and those who have never written a book shouldn’t judge.”

    And every child who participates gets a trophy. The author made a choice to write and publish. They will never improve if not critqued. Being mean or a snob is uncalled for and not appropriate. Of course I don’t like being called out for a mistake or a poorly written word but hey if I’m not called out I’ll think it is good. Just saying

    Liked by 2 people

  11. If a book has disappointed me, then yes. I will give it a bad review. Just because someone worked hard doesn’t mean they did good work. If a book has earned my ire, then I will say so.

    As a sometimes book reviewer, honesty has to be a Thing I Do, otherwise people can’t trust my reviews. If I saw every book I read is good, then I’m being dishonest about my experience.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Always be honest. Just because we work hard on something, doesn’t mean people will/or have to like it. That sounds entitled. Unless, of copse, you are 8 years old and glued some macaroni on a piece of paper, then you are deserving of full praise and accolades!

    Liked by 4 people

  13. I am from the “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” background. When I became a reviewer of books on my blog, however, I decided that wouldn’t help other readers to know if this is a book they would like to read or not. So, I am honest in my reviews realizing at the same time that others may have a different opinion about the book and that’s OK. I also try to choose only books that I will be able to give good ratings to. When I can’t give a good rating to a book, it is really difficult personally for me to write and post the review. Sometimes they are even longer reviews than for a book I really liked. Perhaps I am trying to justify and explain my response to the book. Negative criticism for those trying to learn something isn’t helpful; it is discouraging and sometimes harmful. Negative criticism for a published book is a valid response. It helps potential readers and really might affect the author’s writing in a positive way although some writers make it a policy to not read reviews. I can understand that choice.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I think we should be honest in reviews. We are rating a book based on the story and our enjoyment of the story we aren’t rating the writing process of a book. I can imagine a lot of work goes into writing a book and I applaud every author who writes a book whether I enjoyed the book or not. For me personally I feel like I am lying to my followers if I don’t include bad reviews along with the good. If you’re going to write a book you need to be able to accept the good and the bad reviews. Of course there is a right and wrong way to write a negative review and I strive to be as nice as possible while explaining why something didn’t work for me but also saying just because it’s not for me doesn’t mean it’s not for you etc.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s just it…if we say we like everything, what do the people who read our reviews think? If someone looks to your opinion, you need to state how you feel

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Reviews should be honest, but at the same time, taken with a grain of salt. One person may hate a book, while another one loves it. Just like we review movies and other forms of entertainment, books fall into the same category. Authors have to expect that not everyone will love their work.

    Liked by 4 people

  16. And this is why I won’t review books. Too many hurt feelings if I’m honest, too much feeling like I’m a fraud if I’m not honest. I can’t be party to any of it. Unless you know the background and professional qualifications of the review, I give the side-eye to most reviews anyhow.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Every time I have been honest a work, I was accused of hurting someone’s feelings. Geez. All I did was ask them to heat up my food correctly and not cook it. It was for Black History month. I was so unnerved by someone critiquing how excited I got about the right temp for my food that I decided a) to not bring in food again b) look for another job at the end of the year. Honesty vs. Tattle tales-hmm, I think we are acting like little kids. And I am happy to say if I don’t like a review, I brush it off an won’t critique someone that way as they might just be having a bad day.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. As a professional writer and published author myself, that’s bullshit. I could wallpaper my office with all the rejection slips I’ve received, and yet, I am thankful for them…because every negative critique has helped turn me into a better writer. If you can’t deal with honest reviews – even poor ones – you have no business being a writer.

    Liked by 4 people

  19. Our stories are our “babies”, it is hard to know when someone doesn’t like it. BUT if you don’t want criticism than don’t write. I leave book reviews and I am honest. I am not mean about it but if I don’t like the book I will say so and give the reasons why in a tactful way. Why even have reviews if people aren’t going to be honest? With that said, bad reviews of a book don’t necessairly stop me from reading it. It depends how many negative reviews there are and the reasons for them. Its like movies. I have heard negative reviews of movies that I end up enjoying. Everyone is so different.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. There was a time when this type of criticism bothered me deeply, however, today, I know these types of ratings and reviews have nothing to do with me. It’s not personal. They are reflections of someone’s experience. If I’ve done all I can to make my writing the best it can be, there’s nothing left for me to do. I think the issue arises when people either take these reviews personally, as an attack for instance, and or, they didn’t give their entire heart and mind to the book the wrote. Honest reviews are best.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I am both a reader and a writer, but I’ve been a reader for a lot longer. As a reader, I appreciate honest reviews, but I also give an internal weighting to the reviews of people whose taste I share.

    I keep seeing more & more writers expressing disappointment with three star reviews, which I find perplexing. I expect to award three stars to most of what I read, because most of what I read is good (or good enough). It’s a big category, but that’s the reality of life – not everything can be the best. It’s got to the stage that I mis-trust higher ratings, unless it’s a review from someone whose taste I know and trust.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Good topic. Some authors ignore reviews for their own sanity. I’m okay with constructive criticism, but once the book is published, it doesn’t do me much good.

    I don’t write many reviews and the ones I do write are positive. I’m not so naïve to think that my reviews are all that likely to influence anyone’s reading preferences. But I feel good about supporting writers who have done a good job.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Sigh I was once in a situation where the son of a friend self published an ebook on Amazon and she asked for an honest opinion. I read the book and hated it. I told her I didn’t really want to review it but she insisted. So I was brutally honest about everything wrong with it and offered suggestions but I was shot down for being so critical. Just because we’re friends doesn’t mean I will automatically give a glowing review.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. We can’t all write in such a way that everyone will like it. That would defeat the creative process. Some books are bad but gain universal acclaim which leads me to think the readership no longer really reads or modern taste is just terrible. Shantaram is the only book I ever threw out of a train window and 50 Shades of Grey is so badly written I use it for drinking games. But that’s my opinion. Publishing is difficult and writing is hard but terrible books are still terrible no matter how creative they are or how long it took to write them. No one deserves accolades for rubbish work. Criticism should be fair and constructive with the hope the author will learn from their mistakes.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. If the writer’s objective is to pour his/her creativity through pen so be it. Everyone will have a different perspective on creativity. Like any other artwork, photos, food cooked, paintings, etc. That doesn’t stop us from doing our artwork. Like we have the freedom to put our artwork while others have the choice to like or dislike and I guess it’s okay. I am a budding blogger who may not impress others but I still l love the fact I can express 🤗.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s the point of writing, isn’t it? If you are out to impress others then you can’t be true to you. I have 2 blogs and I don’t measure my success by how many followers I have or likes on my post. Have fun blogging!

      Liked by 1 person

  26. I think you have a right to personal opinion when it comes to reviewing a book. This harkens back to participation awards in sports I think – like everybody wins no matter what because they ‘published’ their book. I don’t think a reviewer needs to be all out mean about a review if they don’t like the book, but the author should know that not everyone likes everything and it’s a personal opinion, not a personal attack.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. I suppose when someone writes a book or a blog and publishes it, it should be with a realization that it’s open for review. Reviews are a good way for the authors to learn and grow as well. People shld be open to any review which isn’t personal and is honest.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. LA…we should always post an honest review. I once had an indie author ask me to change my review because he’d since re-published his book; apparently, I’d read the unedited version. I was really taken aback, but in the end, I refused. I think authors should EXPECT to receive honest reviews, not just 5 stars because they accomplished their goal.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Completely!! It’s not a review if it’s not honest…it’s a puff piece…someone once commented that she couldn’t believe I gave things two stars, and then it turns out she didn’t finish like half the books she started…she argued with me that it was better to stop reading a bad book, and I said that it’s better to finish, give an honest review so other readers know what to expect

      Liked by 1 person

  29. Writing books is difficult, I think every blogger knows that. But I’ve read some books I wouldn’t recommend to other people.
    And I also think every writer has a one star book in his/her library. It’s just life.
    If you read a badly written book, you just have to admit it was badly written

    Liked by 1 person

  30. As someone who reviews books I make sure to emphasise that this os my opinion and that it is my dislike of a certain aspect of a book. I also don’t think a book us good or bad it is just a question of whether or not it appeared to me or my taste.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think some books are truly bad. But you have other instances…I’m reading a book now. Light and charming and for the most part I’m enjoying it. However…the character is supposed to be really knowledgeable about a subject, and they say something incorrectly. And I mean this is something even a novice at the subject would know. It’s hard to read the book knowing little attention was paid to detail

      Like

  31. I personally believe we should be writing what we feel… The criticism is a huge stepping stone. As someone who writes and tried to get my poetry book published and failed miserably once, I know it’s hard to compile things, write it, then get a bad review, but it’s a part of life, you learn through the comments.

    So the honest remarks are really needed, but instead of criticising the entire work we could certainly be more gentle with the approach or be more concise and open about the certain parts which made us not like the work… I can’t say I’m a professional since I honestly never rate books, but that’s just an opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s