Yesterday in Chicago, the BEA Bloggers Conference took place and the afternoon was devoted to a number of round table discussions. We have already shared a couple round-ups with you, but now we bring you yet another. Please welcome Heather from Based on a True Story, one of our on-site correspondents as well as the co-facilitator of Negative Reviews.
Negative reviewing is a hot topic among bloggers. If we don't like a book should we post about it? If we do write a negative post, what is the best way to go about it? Are there any consequences? What is a negative review? Most people agreed that it was a one or two star review. The term critical review was preferred for reviews of books that bloggers liked overall but which had some problematic points that needed to be addressed. What should you keep in mind if writing a critical review?
Be specific. State what part of the book bothered you. If there is a racist or homophobic storyline that you object to, for example, point it out and give specific instances.
Stay factual and don't get personal. Talk about the book and not about the author as a person.
What worries people most about writing critical reviews?
Damaging relationships with authors or publishers.
Upsetting fans who then attack the reviewer on social media.
Some participants shared stories about online and offline encounters with angry authors and fans. These are not common experiences but can be scary. We also heard the other side from an author who has had angry reviews sent to her. She said that she is much more lenient when reviewing books now because she knows what it is like to get bad reviews. We asked if people had ever toned down or not posted a review if they thought it was too negative, especially if they knew the author. Several people had. Is that ethical? Some people send a notice to the author or publisher saying that the review is going to be critical of the book and asking if they still wanted it to be posted. These were all considerations when talking about ARC reviews. One thing everyone agreed on was that if the book was purchased by the reviewer, then the reviewer is free to post whatever type of review they feel is appropriate. This topic was a great discussion starter and there are several questions that each person needs to answer for themselves and their blog.