The Scene: An author asks you to review his/her book, a direct request, via email or twitter. You abhor the book. You finished it, but you didn’t like it one bit.
A. Pull up your big girl panties and email the author the link?
B. Publish the review and just hope the author doesn't read it?
C. Don't review the book?
What to keep in mind…
1. Authors do not like their noses rubbed in a bad review
2. Chances are they have a Google Alert set up, or follow you via social media – so they knew when your review went live
3. You might receive a follow-up email asking “when will the review go live?”
The Question again, that comes up, after you process all of this – do you send the review?
The whole thing is a battle of rudeness. What is more rude? To ignore or to inform? You don’t want to be rude and ignore them and never send them the link, but on the other hand you don’t want to insult them with the bad review. On top of that, they might get upset when they read the bad review and email you back with an inbox full of arguement, which you definitely don’t want to happen. What a quandary!
Some bloggers go so far as to not even pen a bad review. If the books gets under a 3 star rating they won’t write it. This of course is up to your discretion as a blogger, but personally I think that is a sort of cowardly way of doing things. But, cowardly has it’s perks. I take the cowards way out in some instances. The reason I pen bad reviews is because I started this hobby to state my opinion. Not just my positive opinion.
Should we even consider a bad review – as a personal rudeness?
I say this, because, the book is a product. The book is not living. Insulting the book is not going to hurt the book’s feelings. But, it does insult the person that created that book. Because it’s art and the artist thinks of his or her creation as just that – a creation. A little birth. Or at least the authors that have spoken out against negative reviews – have sad this. When most of thing that it’s just a product, like anything else we review on Amazon. If you reviewed a stroller – would you have any “stop and think about it” moments if Graco happened to read the really scathing review? No, you would hope your thoughts would help them in the future make a better stroller.
I understand warring factors go through your mind. It just recently happened with my The Young World by Chris Weitz review. The book came from a media contact that I had just made contact with. She had sent me two books, once of which was The Young World and asked for the review links. The first book was fine, I liked it I sent the review link. I could barely finish The Young World. I didn’t want to anger my new contact, but then again I didn’t like the book. I actually wrote her in advance of writing the review and told her that the review would not be favorable, but I hadn’t written it yet. She simply replied with a thank you and did not ask for the “bad review” link. I might have had a different reaction from the actual author of the book, which is why they have publicists! I like accepting books from publicists. That makes me happy. Middle men make me happy.
In the beginnings of my blog bad reviews weighed more heavily on me, I was just making contacts, getting my feelers out and really just trying to make friends. I didn’t want anyone pissed at me, especially not people in the publishing industry and authors. It happens though. I can think of a few reviews where the authors were very angry with me after sending the links, but they had asked for them, so I sent them. I got scathing emails in return, some correcting me about “my thoughts” and I did reply, simply stating that my review is my opinion and I wish them luck with their book. I usually don’t reply anymore. But, because of these angry responses and my own guilt, I do tend to make sure I handle things a certain way. No one wants to be mean. Or at least I don’t.
How do I handle them? I take very little direct requests from authors. I have a form that gives automated responses. I DNF titles very quickly. If I get past 40% I will review the title, but anything under that, I don’t review it. This last book I read, I couldn’t get past 10 pages, the author was already jumping heads and had at least ten grammatical “WHOAS!” that I just couldn’t go on anymore. Do I say that in a review? I might put that on Goodreads.com & Booklikes – but I don’t do that on the blog. Weak and cowardly? Maybe. If I do make it past 40%, I’ll review the title and only send the link if the author emails me and directly requests the link.
I will never tweet them with a negative review. I’m pretty sure, most of them see it. At the Book Blogger Con, even the publishers stated that they really don’t want negative review links – that they have Google Alerts set up for their books and they will see the links at some point. Here’s hoping that your author is that savvy. Because emailing the link – is like poking a bear with a stick. Maybe it is a teddy bear, maybe it’s a Grizzly.
How do you handle emailing negative reviews?