#TWG’s Wondering Wednesday – How far is TOO FAR when reviewing ‘honestly’? #review

tom

Welcome to my new feature – TWG’s Wondering Wednesday! First new feature of 2017 and what a topic to kick it off with. Trust me to be a tad difficult, eh!

The topic for today’s Wondering Wednesday is: How far is TOO far when reviewing ‘honestly’?

We all know that most authors appreciate honest and constructive reviews. We all know how important a review is to an author (if you don’t: reviewing on Amazon raises the authors profile and allows more people to see their books once a certain number of reviews have been posted. More reviews = more sales = more chance of the book going on a promotion at some stage).

We also know that there are people out there who like to write a review which personally insults the author. We also know that there are people out there who choose to review with a negative comment, without elaborating on their point.
For example: ‘I hated this book’ or ‘Worst book I have ever read, the author clearly has no idea what they’re doing’.

Some bloggers do not review a book on their blog if it ends up being less than a three star rating. Is that a bad thing? No, it’s their blog, it’s their prerogative. I know that several authors feel that a three star rating isn’t great, when according to Goodreads and Amazon, a three star rating is still ‘okay’.

I have read several books which I felt only deserved a one or two star rating, I didn’t review them on my blog yet I still voiced my opinion in the correct way, via the correct channel. Did I lay into the author because I rated their book low? No, why would I. Was I going to wave the two star rating in front of their face? No, I was not. That is the difference between reviewing constructively, and reviewing destructively. Plus, no two readers ever read the same story.

I’m being serious!

If two people sat down and read Angela Clarke’s – Trust Me, and were brought to a discussion afterwards, both readers would have their own interpretation of the storyline and how it affected them. That is also another reason why reviews are important; because they’re varied, and one person’s loss is another person’s gain.

Now, back to my original topic. So far in this post I have discussed how important reviews are, as well as the different styles of reviews that can be posted. My inspiration for writing this post was down to reading a couple of posts on social media recently. Within the past month or so, I have seen the topic of ‘honest reviews’ crop up more than once, with some authors stating that a one star review isn’t ‘honest’, or how a three star, constructive review can warrant rudeness. What surprised me the most was how, as bloggers/reviewers, we are always being asked for HONEST reviews, yet when an honest review is posted in a constructive manner, it’s being deemed as dishonest and giving people like ‘me’, a bad name. Why? Because the blogger was honest and constructive yet didn’t rate it five stars, they apparently don’t write honest reviews?

Not only that, bloggers are getting asked to change the star ratings that they gave as the author(s) doesn’t like it. This is where I am extremely confused. Fair enough if a review was posted in a rude, disruptive manner, then yes be annoyed. You can still dislike a book, or parts of a book, and keep your manners at the same time. It’s not hard.
But when a reviewer writes their review honestly, stating what they liked or disliked, as well the reasons why they felt that way – how is that worthy of rudeness and being labelled as dishonest?

Let me just clarify one thing; I know full well the lengths in which authors go to when writing their novels. The blood, sweat, tears, insomnia and so on. A book which took a reader to finish in 3 hours, could have taken an author 6 months – a year to write. I know that negative reviews can be detrimental to an author if they’re gone about in completely the wrong way. Yet the majority of authors appreciate honest feedback if the reader has gone about it in the RIGHT way. I am in awe of authors, and it does annoy me when reviews get far too personal. There is no need for it.

Please don’t think I am ignorant to the above facts, at all. I’m not. I just want to know how far is too far before you’re considered a dishonest reviewer? Although, judging by certain posts on social media recently, it doesn’t seem to be too far!

I know a lot of bloggers; they’re all exceptional at what they do, they’re constructive yet if they dislike a book, they won’t parade it around like the latest ‘wanted’ gadget. Why? Because they’re respectful.

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Let me know your thoughts!
Have you ever been called a dishonest blogger/reviewer because you rated less than five stars? Have you ever been asked to change your rating because the author didn’t like it? Have you ever received rude manners after writing a three star review? Have you ever received good feedback after posting a highly constructive review?

If you have any topics you wish TWG to wonder on a Wednesday, let me know. I do like to talk!

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27 thoughts on “#TWG’s Wondering Wednesday – How far is TOO FAR when reviewing ‘honestly’? #review

  1. What a great feature! I don’t normally review on my blog if I don’t like a book, but will post on Amazon or Goodreads. I did post a DNF review last month and was expecting some backlash but it didn’t happen. I always try and stress something I do like about the book and also make it clear that it wasn’t for me, being respectful like you mentioned above.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I only post a review if I really like something. Like most of us, I suspect, time is always short. Something would have to badly upset or offend me for me to take the time to write a negative review.
    Going off at a slight tangent … This hasn’t happened to me yet (and I’m probably tempting fate by commenting on it!) but I always scratch my head in wonder when I see a review by someone who clearly hasn’t read the blurb before buying a book, and actively dislikes whatever genre it is. I’m always stunned too, when I see someone give a book a bad review because it “took too long to arrive” or “arrived damaged”! Seriously? – That’s one time when it is ok to shoot (metaphorically I hasten to add!) the messenger!

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s understandable! See, I am one of those people who hardly ever reads a blurb, purely because I find that they give too much away. I think books, based on cover alone, are easy to work out what genre they are. I can’t get my head around those reviews you mentioned, even though they happen far too often. Crazy lol

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  3. As an author and reader, and occasional reviewer, I read this with interest. A review is one person’s opinion and we are all entitled to that opinion. If we choose to share it, it should be done, as you say respectfully. I do appreciate an honest review. Of course it stings when someone doesn’t like your book. It’s your baby and you want everyone to thing it’s amazing and fantastic. But it would be a boring old world if we all liked, and indeed disliked, the same things.
    Reviews, imo, are the people who can help us discover our mistakes, show us what is good and bad in our writing, and hopefully, give us the encouragement to carry on. Good reviewers are worth their weight in… well, books!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Love this! Thank you for the wonderful comment! Perfectly understand that you want your book baby to succeed, and rightly so! What I still can’t get my head round is how authors choose to ignore a reviewer for giving a three star constructive review which has been written nicely x

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  4. When I check out a book I always look for the lower rating reviews, because these will get to the nitty gritty of the book and really show me how good it is. I know everyone reads a book differently, but these days there are too many glowing 5* reviews for books which are only encouraging writers to rush to publish more mediocre books.
    In answer to the question about pressure from disgruntled authors, only last week, I was recontacted by an author who, after 3 months of obvious stewing, is still complaining about a 3* review we did for his book, we are accused of stifling all possible future sales and a whole lot more. To me this author wants to use us an an excuse and is happy to blame us for his lack on sales.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I did have an author contact me when I first started blogging and asked me to alter my 3* to a 4 or 5. Needless to say I didn’t, my review wasn’t negative I raised a lot of positive aspects but in the grand scheme of things the book in my view just didn’t warrant a higher score, surely that is the point? They did ask me to read their other books but so far I have declined. There are plenty of lovely, courteous authors out there who I would rather interact with.
    Great post xx

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Reviewing is your own personal thoughts and view on a book. I try to be polite (sarcasm and bluntness on my blog aside) when I find a book I don’t like (only very occasionally thankfully) and offer both the good and the bad side as after all, it’s only my view, what didn’t work for me might well work for another reader.

    I guess it’s how you go about being ‘honest’ in the review, needlessly ranting about a book helps no-one if you didn’t enjoy it.

    I think if the reviewer offers the good and the bad then that’s all they can do, it’s giving their fully informed opinion and that’s what we do.

    I don’t understand the issues with 3 or 3.5 star reviews, it’s equivalent to 6 or 7 out of 10 which is above the middle and just because you haven’t found the book exceptional enough to warrant a 4 or 5 star it doesn’t mean that you didn’t enjoy it or wouldn’t recommend it. Sad to say far too many authors think they all deserve 5 stars and unfortunately not everyone can be a GRRM, JK Rowling or Stephen King.

    And, 3 out of 5 is decent, for any media, films and games too as we all have different tastes.

    I’ve never been called dishonest or asked to change a rating, there’d be a foul mouthed and sarcastic rant if I was as it’d be wrong, simply put, you can’t be dishonest for offering your own opinion on something.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Love this comment! I think a graphic should be made with the review equivalents haha. Like you say, theres being a whinging old moo in a review, and being honest yet constructive in a review. In my opinion, if you can’t justify why you disliked a portion of the book, your opinion isn’t as valid as there isn’t anything to back it up. Unfortunately, as we all know, not all books will receive 5 stars from every single reader, but, like you said, its our own opinion.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Brutal honest, as usual. I am one of those bloggers who doesn’t post reviews on their blog if the book rates less than 3. I had to do that to keep the negative comments down. I haven’t been called dishonest (one author mentioned my ‘brutal honesty’ because I picked apart that book and gave a 4 star :)).

    Some authors did get defensive and asked if I have the necessary expertise to question their judgment. I had to send emails with links and books to support my stand. They were a polite bunch and did agree with me. However, the unpleasant back and forth communication made me avoid getting too deep into subjects while reviewing a book.

    Writing fiction doesn’t mean you know everything about your work. It’s not humanly possible, especially when you are delving into culture, language, or theory of something that can have different interpretations. Some writers do have extensive knowledge collected from a prolonged research or personal experience and exposure. But that’s not applicable for everybody. Is it?

    Can you wonder one Wednesday, how much analysis of a book is too much for a review? Kidding.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wait, you picked apart a book, gave it 4 stars and yet you got told that you’re brutally honest? Hell, thats being generous!
      No, I completely agree. Luckily there are a lot of authors out there who appreciate any review that they get, as long as it’s been written respectfully. On the other hand, there are a lot of reviewers who refuse to review respectfully.

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      • It was a good book. But we clashed over a few theory of his. The author was super cool about it and we had a lengthy discussion once he realized I ‘wasn’t out to get him.’ I gave him a 4 rating because it was a great book otherwise. I find many authors genuinely interested in discussing the differences in civilized manner. It’s a great feeling when you talk it out instead of flinging poop at each other. Oh, ho. I used a bad word.

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  8. Agree with all the above points! As an author I definitely like to hear constructive feedback. There’s no such thing as perfect and I like to think I’m thick skinned enough to take the bad with the good (after just a little sob of course). Of course not everyone is going to like the same thing, but if you can find something positive amongst the negative then there’s nothing wrong with saying so. For example, shock confession, I thought Girl on a Train wasn’t that great, but what do I know? As authors we do hope and expect that bloggers will be honest and that’s why when you get a four or five star review from a critic then it means so much, because you feel they have been honest. Even though as an author you have sweated blood, tears and lost a lot of sleep as well as developed RSI from all that typing a four/five star review isn’t necessarily a given and has to be well-earned. As a reader if I see someone with all five star reviews on Amazon I get a bit suspicious and think hang on, how many of those are genuine? Is this book rubbish and consequently all those reviews end up being a bit meaningless. But then again, I did have a blogger review my last book and they gave me a negative review because they didn’t like dogs! The fact there was a dog on the front cover should have given the game away – it was about dogs so why on earth did they pick it up to review if they knew it was unlikely to be for them? That in my own personal book is a bit unfair….

    Liked by 2 people

    • Agreed. Nobody should pick a book without checking if it’s a preferred genre or not. It’s unfair when the author is upfront but a reviewer ignores warnings or tell-tale signs and then leaves a bad review with a low rating. It’s harmful. Another Wednesday wonder for Drew.

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    • I remember that review! I loved that book! Can’t wait for him to return. I agree wholeheartedly with all of the points raised in your comment. Like I said above, covers usually let people know what genre the book is, and usually what the book contains. Like your book for example, for someone then to state the obvious in a negative way, it makes you wonder what goes through peoples minds when they review.

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  9. Love this post and totally agree with you. I had an email about a 3 star review I posted on Amazon (also posted on my blog but I don’t bother with stars there now) and the author was really polite, but sent a pretty long email explaining the couple of points I’d been critical of, even though on the whole I’d liked it. Even that made me feel a bit uncomfortable! luckily I haven’t had any bad experiences, but I see other bloggers get stick and it isn’t fair. Not everyone can love every book – reading is so subjective and personal! And besides, 3 stars on Goodreads is I like it – which means I like it!! I have posted negative reviews in the past (without being mean) but tbh, I tend to decide pretty quickly these days if a book isn’t working for me and just let it go instead of trudging through like I used to. This means I do post mainly positive reviews, but that will range from 3-5 stars and i won’t be changing! xx

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  10. This is a very interesting topic. I don’t have a blog but review on Amazon, Goodreads and post on Twitter and recently started reviewing books via Net Gallery. I choose books to read and review which appeal to me and aim to give positive feed back. However not every book is 5 * and if I rated every book as such the rating and review would be meaningless. I really admire writers and the reason I review is because I love literature and want to help promote the love of reading, if I give a three star review I try and give positive feedback and the reason why the book didn’t work for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m not a reviewer, but I love reading. Personally, I agree that every blogger/reviewer should decide for themselves what rating system they use, but as a reader I can say that I don’t like reading bad reviews. I pre-order most of the books I want to read, but generally check out some reviews before diving in. If I read negative reviews of a book I have, it usually takes me months or even longer until I read it. That’s a pity because a lot of the time I’m then really surprised by the book because I loved it. An example would be Winter at the Dog and Duck by Jill Steeples. When it came out there were a lot of negative reviews so I only picked it up recently. But I loved every second of it! I would have really missed out by not reading this book. It’s for that reason that I don’t think negative reviews are fair. A negative review will stop a lot of potential readers buying a book when the truth is that tastes are different and this person would probably have liked it.
    What I can’t believe though is that you reviewers have to fear the reactions of the authors or publishers if they didn’t like your review! And authors asking to change the rating? Seriously? It is your honest opinion and that can’t be changed. If I were a reviewer I just wouldn’t write about the books I didn’t like, but I think if you do write a review you HAVE to be honest.
    Another thing I can’t believe is that sometimes people on Amazon are so stupid to put a 1 star rating when they loved a book because they thought it was the highest raiting and 5 would be the lowest… Thankfully it doesn’t happen too often…
    I love your blog and I voted for it for the Most Inspiring Blog Award. I really like that you always write about positive aspects of a book and a lot of the time your reviews make me want to pick up a book immediately.

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  12. What an interesting post and discussion. As an author, I know what goes into writing a book, so I’m loathe to post a review of less than 3 stars. It’s only one opinion, after all, which will differ from others. Yet, I wrestle with this every time as I want to be honest and I have given quite a few hours of my time to read the book. But I’m never sure how much value a low star review offers.

    Maybe a review without stars is better. It’s so easy to rush to the star rating and not read the review properly or fully.

    I also agree with those who say you have to be honest. If you’re not honest, you lose credibility, which helps no one, including us authors. So please be honest and constructive.

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  13. Pingback: #TWG’s Wondering Wednesday – To pay for a review or not to pay? Erm, seriously? #reviews | The Writing Garnet

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