This post isn’t coming from me as an author but from me as a book reviewer & book blogger. I’ve recently started to notice some bloggers asking for opinions on whether or not they should leave a 1-star review because a book they were reading to review was just not their ‘thing’ and they couldn’t finish.
Here is my question for you… was it just not your genre or subject matter? Or was it badly written?
The reason I ask is that a book that you thought you’d love but just didn’t, does NOT make it worthy of a 1-star review.
Here are my thoughts on this subject.
Writing is a skill. If a book wasn’t your thing but was well written then as a reviewer who’s any good at writing reviews, you should be able to list the pro’s and con’s of a book and review it based on what it is, an author using a skill they’ve learned to create a story. For instance, was the writing good, did the characters grow, did you give it a chance, were there highs and lows? You have to consider more than just whether you personally loved it.
I understand that as a blogger you want to give an honest review, and I truly wouldn’t want it any other way. But let me challenge you a bit. Of the two reviews below, which, as a reader, would help you make the decision to buy or not buy a book…
Sample Review 1 –
This book wasn’t my cup of tea, therefore I could not finish.
Sample Review 2 –
This book wasn’t my favorite, not because it wasn’t well written but more because it wasn’t the snarky, fun writing I had hoped for. While the story line flowed nicely and the characters were engaging I just am not a huge fan of mostly dramatic books. If you are, you may love this one. I can say that the author is a skilled writer, she’s great at developing characters who grow and her ability to create drama is amazing. I didn’t read past the fourth chapter so I honestly can’t tell you if the book would have captured my attention later on. I’m giving the book two stars for the quality of the writing, the great cover and the fact that I was enticed into reading it at all.
I’m going to guess you chose review 2. Of course, you did. How can you tell anything from the one sentence review of the top one? I’d say if you can’t write a well-rounded, informative review that is less than glowing, you shouldn’t be reviewing the book at all.
Even reviewing can be a skill. As a reviewer i’ve always listed out the ‘What I Loved’ & the ‘What I didn’t Love’ because I think that’s fair to other possible readers of the book. I love this genre and book but here is why you as another reader, might not.
As an author, I’d like to know if you didn’t enjoy the book but I’d like it as well written as you hoped the book was. Give me something to help improve my writing. Not giving facts or reasons doesn’t help a single buyer. I skip over those reviews like trying to avoid the plague. It doesn’t impress me with you as a reviewer either.
As a potential buyer, why would I care that you didn’t finish because of a mysterious reason that you’re not giving? I’m gonna skip right past your review and move on to someone who sounds like they can actually form a legit opinion based on the writing since, after all, we read books based on authors writing.
There are some great reviewers in the book blogger world. I’d love to see some of these negative, no information reviews are rethought before giving a lousy, potentially hurtful 1-star review. It’s really not fair to buyers or authors.
List out what was good, even if you didn’t love it. List out what was bad, even if you adored it. THAT helps other buyers, reviewers and even the writers.
If the writing was just plain bad, there are ways to say that in a review that isn’t totally douchey. Come on, I’ve read reviews that personally attack an author for their viewpoint in the book. That’s not right. List the facts. Give a REASON. No one will buy or not buy a book based on a three word ‘did not finish’ review.
Have you ever seen those reviews written by someone who’s misspelled their words, punctuation, and just in general shouldn’t be using a keyboard? They seem to think that if they had written the book it would have been better. I think if you write a review that way you also need to post the link of your current best seller. If it was as easy as some of these people think we’d not need to work as hard as we do as authors.
Then there are the reviews who complain that the book titled ‘Ecstasy in Georgia‘ was ‘dirty‘. Did the man with his lips on a nipple on the cover not tell you that already? You regret buying the book, now and reading it in its entirety? You should probably regret even getting on Amazon because you don’t live in reality, my friend. READ the freaking blurb. Check the genre the book is listed in. There are a lot of things that hint at the genre on Amazon. If YOU didn’t get that the book wasn’t your genre, only you are to blame for that. Giving a 1-star review because you can’t read before buying, doesn’t make the author look bad. It makes the reviewer look bad. It’s like buying paper towels at the store instead of toilet paper (which may or may not be something I have done, more than once). If you put that in your bad review of the store, saying it’s their fault, no one is laughing with you… we think you’re a moron. LOL
So, tell me below in the comments, when do you think it’s OK to leave a 1-star review?