Bloggers afraid of writing negative reviews

underlying image is not my own What do your elf eyes see, SJ? *flips blonde hair* The bloggers are going to Isengard. Before I div...

underlying image is not my own

What do your elf eyes see, SJ?
*flips blonde hair* The bloggers are going to Isengard.

Before I dive into this post, I want to be clear about my tone here- I'm not criticizing anyone specifically, or our blogging system as a whole. I'm not saying that this situation presented is the situation for everyone. I am saying that this issue is something I have noticed trending in various bloggers and the occasional author. I'm just making an observation, and I'm wondering if anyone else has noticed this too.

The situation I'm talking about is (some) bloggers are afraid to post negative reviews. (some) Authors are now reading negative reviews and contacting the bloggers about it.
When did this become a thing??


Let's break it down
if any of you read that in a Miranda Sings' voice then you my bae 

Bloggers
I've been reading around, and on more than one occasion I have read posts saying some of the following
  • I'm afraid to hurt the author's feelings if I post a negative review, so I don't post it at all.
  • What if the author gets angry?
  • What if somebody disagrees with me and tries to prove their point against me?
  • What if what I'm saying is wrong?
  • What if I'm too harsh in my review?
  • What if God was one of us?
Authors
Also on the blogosphere are some horror stories. I've been reading articles lately, and posts, and I ran into some crazy tales
  • One author read a negative review and contacted the blogger asking them what they did to offend the reviewer
  • Another author stalked a blogger, called her at work, and went to her home because she gave her a one star (Initially it was because of a bad review. Then things got out of hand when the author couldn't handle it. Read that story here straight from the author herself).
  • Authors reading one star reviews in general 

Up until now, I've always been under the impression that a review is an honest evaluation on why or why not a book was good. Reviews are for readers consumption. Reviews warn a person against a book, explain the book, praise the book...ect. They are meant to have some structure to them, but in the end, it's all an opinion of why that one person does or does not like a book. 

Reviews are not for the author to read. I know that this strongly encouraged guideline exists out there. Authors aren't supposed to read their negative reviews. They can read praise, but it is a very bad idea to read negative reviews. Most reviews come with a warning if they didn't like a book. There are stars to indicate their overall opinion of the story. There are (on Goodreads) warnings for author accounts to not comment on reviews of their books. Occasionally an author will stumble upon a bad review, or someone will shove it in their face, but for the most part bad reviews are avoidable.

In the end, I think bloggers are in their rights to be afraid to publish their negative reviews. Because not only are authors freaking out about their one stars, but fellow readers get aggressively protective over their favorite reads as well. Having anxiety over the opinions of offended readers and authors is perfectly called for. But I guess my concluding, main point of a question would be: am I just noticing some of the outlying crazies? Or is this unprofessional handling of bad reviews becoming a trend? Have you noticed it too? Or are my elf eyes requiring glasses?


Side note: In my opinion, a blogger's basic job, if you will, is to be honest about books. They should be free to say what they think without having to duck the blows of outraged readers and authors. We should encourage honesty, not bully it into an oppressive write-positive-reviews-or-face-public-humiliation corner.

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28 comments

  1. Yessss. So much yes. This makes me SO ANGRY. And it does happen, a lot more often than it should! In fact, a friend of mine had an author email her asking her to remove a negative review just a few weeks ago! AND on my post about whether I should DNF some books, the author wrote this HUGE comment about why I should reconsider DNFing his book! What even!?

    The thing is, in these cases, you are SO. RIGHT- the author would have had to actively seek out these reviews. In my case, the guy obviously googled his name and title, because my post wasn't a review at all! I didn't even mark it as a DNF on Goodreads! So... WHY go out of your way to o that? Like- I get being hurt by this kind of stuff, authors have feelings. BUT then why search for it? Just don't even do it to yourself. AND if you do, don't try to "change" my thoughts. It just makes us hate the book more (just me?).

    And yes, it is an opinion, exactly! Which makes me so confused when people start attacking reviews because they had different opinions. I know a few bloggers/reviewers who get people like that DAILY, which is just not okay. I personally have gotten only one hater (is this good or bad? I don't know) who told me that my glowing review of a book was wrong. So... there's that.

    I get why some bloggers are afraid. I mean, I personally give zero fucks, but after all the stalking and other nonsense, I get why some are afraid for sure. I am always respectful, never attack an author on a personal level, and never tag them or the publisher in any social media. But I will be honest. That is kind of the point, right?

    Oh, and the random Joan Osborne lyric is an absolute win.

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    1. Yeah I definitely understand feeling hurt over a review. It makes perfect sense, but when you ACTIVELY go searching for them, it's like...what did you expect?? Authors are perfectly within their rights to feel hurt, but it's not okay to contact the reviewer about it (based on a hurt level. If you're looking for more insight to their review, and treating it as a learning experience in order to perfect your craft, I could see how that would be okay.) But yeah... the moment an author contacts me trying to change my mind it kind of puts me off to them o.O A line has been crossed.
      You're definitely right tho- honesty is the point, but you should also be respectful. Respect and honesty are the two things I look for in a review.

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    2. Okay, is it weird that I often get so wrapped up in other people's replies to a post that I then spend tons of time going and looking at the things they talked about (in this case Shannon's weird author experience where the author left a really long comment on her DNF post) and it takes me forever to actually comment on the original post? I guess this is why I love discussions - sometimes the comments are as interesting as the original posts!!

      Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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  2. Before hearing about these horror stories, I wasn't scared/reluctant to post negative reviews. Why? I justify my reviews every time. I generally discuss WHY I give books low ratings, and that's why I'm not scared of posting negative reviews - I weigh up the factors and try to give a balanced rating based on that.

    But these horror storries about authors stalking bloggers, THAT has gotten me a bit more paranoid. Because man, authors, these are just opinions!! No need to invade bloggers' sense of privacy just to defend your book!

    Personally though, I think it's well within authors' rights to read one star reviews and negatively react to them - just not their right to terrify a blogger, whether by stalking them or contacting them in a hostile manner, or really ANYTHING that violates the said blogger's comfort space. That's why yeah it's a good idea for them not to read those negative reviews.

    I dunno if that makes any sense. UGH it was such a jumble of thoughts, but man SJ, this is a HUGE topic and you wrote it so well!

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    1. omg i'm sorry if i scared you with these stories! xD But yeah I have read a few of your reviews, and you're very honest and respectful in them. I always look for REASONS in a review. You hate something? Okay great, but WHY. Give me reasons! xD AND YOU DO! *loud clapping* you, doll!
      You make perfect sense! :D An author CAN read negative reviews. It's their right. But they need to know themselves before doing so. If they are prone to being hurt by harsh criticism, they need to not dive into that mess.
      Thank you thank you, Geraldine! :D Love your comments and all their wonderful jumbliness xD

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  3. As an author I would like to know what the reader didn't like. It's the only way I can grow and hone my craft. Listening to someone rationally explain their reasons is just fine. Listening to someone trash your writing and then attack your person is another. Some reviews are perfectly reasonable and then there are others who give one stars to books that haven't even come out yet. Both sides have their fair share of nutters.

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    1. You're exactly right. Like Shannon said a few comments up- both sides need a balance of honesty and RESPECT. Reviews are meant to critically analyze a /book/. Not the author. Never be mean to the author :(
      But I totally understand where you're coming from xD As a writer, I would probably read my lower reviews too xD I want to grow. I want to know where I went wrong, what I need to do better on. But people are mean! If I ever publish a novel, I'm going to need to get a friend to go through the negative reviews and weed out the hurtful ones before I dive in and see what I need to work on haha
      Thank you for commenting, Linda! :D

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  4. I don't understand fellow readers who get pyscho-crazy over negative reviews on books that they love. Just don't comment. Close the window and continue with your life. There is enough happening int he world for that sort of added negativity.

    I'm more mindful of my negative reviews. A few years ago I used to be pretty snarky and didn't hold back, and the author commented on my review. O.O It was a nice comment, but it was soo awkward. It's even worse when these authors follow you on twitter. I've cut back on the snark (if I can), just to avoid the awkwardness.

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    1. Right? I understand getting into a healthy debate about a book. But attacking people?? Exactly what you say- Just don't comment. Close the window and continue with your life, people :/
      And same. I reviewed a book a while back and the author follows me on twitter, so I was extra careful to be respectful of her work while I criticized it. I'm trying to maintain that for all my reviews: Be honest, but also be respectful.

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  5. I don't give a fuck. If I hate your book I'm going to say it. I will not hold back. I will say that I try to be less harsh and mean in my reviews but sometimes....shit happens. Also, if I find something that upset me on a personal level when I'm reading a book I might curse them out in my reviews. Even that is highly unprofessional as a book blogger. But if you're being racist or sexist or homophobic...yet all bets are off.

    One thing I won't do is tag an author to my negative review. That's just cruel and being mean for no damn reason.

    By the way this post is fucking awesome and a great discussion piece.

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    1. Yeah you're just a powerhouse of brutal honesty, and I think I've told you before, but I LOVE IT xD Sometimes it's nice to just get the blatant TRUTH of what a person thinks. But even tho you're really intense about your negative reviews, I think it's good that you don't tag the authors. You hate the book, but at the same time being respectful of their feelings. A great thing to remember is- if you're in attack mode, attack the BOOK not the author.
      Thank you for commenting and btw YOU are fucking awesome ;)

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  6. In August of 2014 I wrote a negative (1 star) review of a book, posted it on goodreads and on amazon, and thought nothing more of it. 12 hours later I had tons of comments on my blog telling me why I was wrong. I checked the review on Amazon and it was being down rated and then I found out that the author whined in her author group or on her facebook page about it and basically encouraged her friends/family/fans to attack me over the review. I was stalked for a WEEK by one or two of her friends on twitter, my blog, and amazon. I didn't publish their comments, one guy said he was a lawyer and I was going to be sued for libel, etc. It was effing crazy. She's an indie author and self published. This type of behavior is something I see more from indie authors and it does make me more leery to read and review their work. And I've had friends tell me the same thing. I've never had any problem from a traditional published author, or even authors published through indie publishers. While the incident did up my anxiety, I have bad panic attacks as it is, it hasn't stopped me from writing honest reviews, whether good or bad, and I won't stop. Because that's just how I am. I also cuss in reviews, I know some people don't like it, but that's me and that's how I am, so yeah.

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    1. Oh Jesus :o ... I just O_O DAMN Yeah I can see how that experience would turn you off to Indie authors haha. I'm incredibly proud of you for not backing down. That is a SCARY experience, but you keep on trucking, and that is so admirable.
      Also I think cursing is just fine xD It's your blog. Your space. You do you.
      Thank you for commenting!

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  7. This has been going on for a while,actually, and while it has never happened to me, I have read some pretty chilling stories where authors sent their fandom to a blog to tear a review apart. Or where the author passive-aggressively tweeted about a specific review. Or, the case you mentioned where an author actually called a blogger at work, and showed up outside her house. What the actual fuck, right?
    When I review the books I read, I am always honest, and while I'm lucky in choosing many books I enjoy, there are those I don't enjoy all that much, and I think it's important to share with my fellow bloggers why I didn't enjoy the book in question. At the same time, I understand why some bloggers are a little afraid of writing negative reviews, it's scary out there now!
    When I receive review request from authors I have gotten to know a little bit, I remind them that I will post my review no matter what I think of their book, and that even if I have loved their other books, there's no guarantee the new one will work for me. So far, that's been working very well, and I hope that is going to continue.
    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

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    1. You're so right, it's very scary out there! I think you have a good policy of making sure the author knows BEFORE hand that you're going to be honest. I hope that continues to work for you too :) I might have to integrate that into my own policy. Thank you for commenting! :)

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  8. Oh, my gosh, when I found out about that incident where the author stalked that blogger, I was absolutely horrified! I myself haven't personally been confronted by an author, and I thank my lucky stars for that. I remember once I gave a VERY negative review when the author herself had contacted me and asked me to review her book. I was TERRIFIED because I truly detested that book, so I sent her an email warning that I didn't like the book very much, and she emailed me right back saying it was okay, I can post whatever I want, even though I didn't like her book. That really struck me, and I was so full of respect for that author!

    What you say in this (AMAZING) discussion post it so true! Authors don't need to read negative reviews. And if they do, that's fine, but going after the reviewer after CHOOSING to read that negative review is just wrong. Books are very subjective. Obviously, not everyone is going to adore you book, and some people are going to be more vocal about it than others. Deal with it. You signed up for this when your book got published! The authors who react so badly to negative reviews should have realised by now that throwing tantrums only degrades them in the eyes of the blogosphere! Truly fabulous discussion post, love! :)

    (Also, I just saw your new header? I LOVE IT!!)

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    1. That's good! I'm so glad you had a good interaction with that author :) A few comments up, me and Shannon were talking about how respect and honesty are necessary. You respected that author, and you warned her, and she respected you in return. That's just awesome! ^_^

      "The authors who react so badly to negative reviews should have realised by now that throwing tantrums only degrades them in the eyes of the blogosphere!" <-- SO MUCH THIS!! Being a published author is a JOB. It's not all candy and roses and that's just a fact of life. People will not like your work sometimes. Authors need to be aware of this and deal with it professionally :/
      Thank you so much for your comment! AND I'M GLAD YOU LIKE THE BANNER! I worked so hard on it :)

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  9. I actually deleted my old book blog, in part because of the way some authors were acting towards bloggers (as in flat out stalking-going to bloggers houses, and in one case an author actually physically attacked a blogger over a bad review-insane!). I had been including negative reviews on my old blog, and though I hadn't personally had backlash from authors, after finding out all my personal info was available on WHOIS I freaked out, deleted my blog and then walked away from the blogging community for about a year.

    Now I'm back because I miss blogging and hanging out with all you awesome bookish people, but I don't write reviews anymore at all, and I paid the extra fee to have my info blocked from WHOIS. I'm sure the chances are super slim to have a crazy author/reader come after me, but I have young kids and I don't even need to have that as a possibility!

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    1. PHysically attacked?!?!!? WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN? *hides* that's truly awful. And what is WHOIS? O_O this is the first time I'm hearing about it. One of the main reasons I use a P.O box for giveaways and stuff is so that authors and other bloggers can't find out where I live.
      But goodness, no reviews at all?? This is making me so sad :( But your babies come first. Gotta protect them.
      Thank you for commenting :)

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  10. First of all, I am now singing "What if God Was One of Us?" and will probably not be stopping any time soon. LOL!

    Now for my real comment - this is a very sad and somewhat scary reality. I DO think that these cases are the exception rather than the rule, but the fact that they exist at all makes everyone second-guess themselves.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. I got it stuck in my head too xD and I read your comment on Shannon's comment! I do the same thing too! Just get lost in the comments and go off on rabbit trails xD I'm looking for her DNF post right now actually.

      And it is a scary reality so I think a good thing for people to remember when they're being negative- is to balance that out with respect and kindness. Criticize the book. Not the author.

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  11. I fully agree with you! Negative reviews are just as important as positive reviews. They can dissuade a reader from wasting their time on an awful book. Believe it or not, negative reviews can also benefit an author and their book. Their is the old theory that any press is good press, which also applies to book blogging. Someone might read your negative review and decide to read the book anyway, and absolutely love it. And your negative review would be responsible.
    Your side note is also completely correct. Bloggers and reviewers should be honest about their feelings. Our job is to provide accurate information about a book in order to help a reader decide whether they want to read it or not. I think that it is actually an important job that should be taken rather seriously.

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    1. You're exactly right. I actually read more books based off negative reviews than positive. I always want to see what the hullabaloo was about. Does this persons distaste for a book match up to my tastes? Negative reviews lower my expectations to the point where I can go in and actually end up enjoying a crappy book MORE.
      Thank you so much for your comment ^_^

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  12. I am always iffy when writing negative reviews, I don't want to come off like I total bitch, someone did take time to write the book after all. Negative reviews are very important, not everything is going to be 5/4/3 star books for people. Authors going to the extreme about bad reviews is a) immature b) positively outrageous. A bad review isn't the end of the world to be honest. (But maybe it is? I don't know I am not an author)

    But I think it is because of this reason that I am nervous about writing negative reviews, especially if the author contacted you to review them. They will be reading that review. It happened once or twice to me and Jess. They wanted to review down, and being new bloggers we didn't know better and took it down. Looking back I wouldn't have.

    Great post!


    Amber ❤ The Book Bratz

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  13. I honestly think this is happening because authors are so much more accessible online. Like before there was more of a line between readers and authors??? And now ANYONE can have a blog and ANYONE can write a review...and a lot of authors have a huge online prensence and OKAY SO I TOTALLY GET WHY IT HAPPENS.

    But I'm with you: authors should not be reading reviews. EVVVVVVER.

    I don't even think they should read good ones, tbh? But anyway.

    Agh, I am not afraid to post negative reviews, obviously, ehhe, but I am afraid to make connections with authors because of this. Because it IS a real thing to not want to hurt feelings, right? And bloggers have been attacked for it, so the scary stories do go round...*sighs* But blogging kind of loses it's integrity if bloggers don't post negative reviews, I think. D:

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  14. I think it is important to be honest.
    I gave negative reviews to two of my favorite authors because I didn't like their books I reviewed.
    But that back when I was reviewing only on GR.
    Since I got a blog and twitter I have a feeling like more eyes are on me as an individual.
    I still an honest inmy reviews, and I will always be, but now I have a case that I have to write a review for a book that I find is a three star book, but I know that the author will see that one because she follows me on twitter.
    I don't want to hurt her feelings but at the same time I want to be honest reviewer...

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  15. Most of the time, I'm fine with writing negative reviews. For books that I buy or get from NG or EW or traded ARCs, I'm not concerned. It's when I get new little indie/self published authors coming to me with their babies for review that I hate writing bad reviews. I'm not concerned about authors in general seeing my negative reviews, but I know that these authors usually come back to see the review! And I have liked very few of the books that have shown up in my email inbox! And I don't want to hurt their feelings so even if I REALLY didn't like it, I tend to give them three stars and try to focus more on what I did like about the book. Then when I get to the negatives, I try to phrase it as things I would have liked to have seen more of or less of. I don't know if that's good or bad, but that's what I do. I shouldn't worry so much about it, but I know they look and I'm a people pleaser by nature! I have had a few respond back to my emails saying they read it and they see where I'm coming from and will work on that in the future, but I'm still scared I'll come across as mean.

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  16. I didn't realize that bloggers have become afraid of posting negative books reviews specifically because of these fears. Though once in a while when I do hate a hyped up book, I make sure to write my reviews in a such way that they are respectful to the author and readers who loved the book. But I'm not ever hesitant because if I thought a book was terrible, I want to understand why others loved it so much anyway. But posting my grievances, I get replies that explain why they liked said book or they exclaim they didn't notice this before and rework their opinions. Either way, disagreements sometimes make from the most interesting discussions.

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