Kathie's Corner

Writing Bad Reviews

Well, not actually bad ones, but a review where you didn’t favor the book. There is a way to review that imparts why you didn’t care for the book but in return not flame the author.

When I browse online book stores, I tend to read reviews rated from one to five stars. This gives me a pretty good overview of what a certain book is really like. The lower rated reviews quite often mention missing plot elements, shoddy editing, or a cliffhanger ending. That’s information I want to know before I spend my money on a book.

I have written a few one and two star reviews on Goodreads. I don’t publish them on my blog, though.  I only publish three stars and above there. There are plenty of blogs that enjoy tearing a book to shreds. Not my idea of fun. I always worry over the lower rated reviews more than the higher rated reviews I write.

Some people won’t write a one or two star review. They will just ignore it and move on. The reason that I do write the review is to alert the readers to poorly edited work, a cliffhanger ending, and missing elements. Also, if you give a fair critique of why you didn’t like the book, the author can learn from it. Authors might not change anything, but if enough people say the writing was choppy or the plot didn’t flow, they can work on that for their next book.

When you write a low starred review, clearly state your reasonings. Don’t say things like: Why did this author even write this drivel? It sucks.

Clearly state why you didn’t like the book: I didn’t like this book because the author had not researched her time period correctly. No one in 1837 would have said “whatever.” Also, even though some word spellings have changed over the years, the manuscript was full of typos that should have been corrected.

If it’s a case of the book not being your cup of tea, you can say that, too. A long time ago I read an article where the author told a reader who was hating on her book to her face at a signing, that “I guess I didn’t write this book for you.” I love that and add it to my lower-rated reviews quite regularly.

Because it’s true. Not every book was written for every reader. I know this is fact when I rate a book two stars and there are two hundred plus five-star reviews for the same story.

I think it’s perfectly okay to say: While I was intrigued by the blurb, I didn’t find the excessive use of expletives throughout the book enjoyable. Also, the choppy sentence structure made the action too hard to follow. Not every book is written for every reader, and apparently this is true about myself and this book.

This states a reason for your rating, doesn’t flame the author, and gives a warning for others who are not fond of swearing in their books. On the other hand, I heard one reader say, after she read a pile of one star reviews, that the things they mentioned were all things she’d like in a book. Different strokes, and all that!

I would urge you to be kind in your reviews, no matter what the final rating turns out to be. Authors read these reviews and take them to heart. Just maybe, your words will encourage them to hone their writing skills.



Kathie’s Corner is a bi-monthly column by Kathie Spitz. Kathie has two blogs, a review blog,  www.firstpagetothelast.com and a recipe blog, http://kathiesfavoriterecipes.blogspot.com/

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