Reviews: My Dos and Don’ts

SignatureBefore you assume this is going to be a blog post about how you should write your reviews, take a deep breath. This post has nothing to do with how anyone else reviews. It’s strictly a clarification on how I handle my reviews.

Apparently, it’s become common practice for active reviews to be asked at least once to remove their review from Amazon or Goodreads. I have only been actively reviewing outside of Goodreads since August/September of last year. So I wasn’t aware of how often this occurs. But I wasn’t oblivious to the fact it happens. I’m familiar with posts about authors behaving badly and how some authors, such as Cassandra Claire have even gone so far as to stalk someone who has posted a negative review of their work. This kind of behavior shouldn’t be tolerated and is completely inexcusable. I know and understand exactly how much hard work and time goes into creating a book. I even understand how difficult it can be to receive a negative review on your work. But at the end of the day, all of us are humans and we all view things differently. No one’s going to have a perfect 5 star book. I’m sorry, it’s never going to happen. At some point every book will receive a negative review. It’s how this world works. Most authors use these reviews as a way to improve their craft. There may be truly valid points within the review or it may be a case where the book wasn’t the right fit for the reader. Either way, it’s going to happen. Deal with it.

I bring this up because I have recently been asked to remove a review from Goodreads. Ironically, the review was a DNF (did not finish) and I tried to be as fair and respectful with the review. I spent a lot of time working on my reasons for why I didn’t think the book worked and why I couldn’t finish it. Instead, I was accused of posting spoilers, which is ironic, since I didn’t read enough of the book to even know any spoilers. So this is what prompted my desire to clarify a few things about my reviewing process and how my reviews are posted.

First off, I do not do paid reviews and I do not guarantee a positive review. I have reviewed enough indie books and participated in enough blog tours to prove I’m not that type of reviewer. So if you want a guaranteed 4 or 5 star review to boost your percentage, you are on the wrong blog. It will not happen. I do offer paid expedited reviews, but that is only to guarantee a review within a specific time frame. I do not guarantee positive reviews at any point in time.

I will however, always guarantee that I will do my best to be fair and honest with my reviews. Just because I don’t like something, doesn’t mean I can’t be civil about how I express my distaste. If I feel the disconnect is just because it’s not the type of book for me, I’ll state that. If I feel the writing style is wrong for this type of story or if you use way too many prepositional phrases to describe everything, I’ll put that in my review as well. To be honest, if I don’t like the book, I spend three to four times as much time on my review than a book I liked. This is because I have a great respect for anyone who has put their time and effort into creating a book. But also because it’s important for me to express the positive points (if there are some and 99.9% of the time, there is) of the story and not just the negative. It’s never my intention to berate an author or ruin their career. I’m human and if I didn’t like it, I didn’t like it. It’s truly as simple as that.

Second, last I checked, reviews are more for the readers and potential readers, not the author. Sure, reviews can be used to help an author improve on areas that may need work, bu sites like Goodreads are supposed to be for the readers. It’s supposed to be a way for us to track what we read, how we liked it, connect with authors we like as well as other bookworms, and to find other books that may be of interest to us. I have the right to post my review on that site and no one has the right to ask me to remove it or change it, unless it’s a violation of Goodreads’ Terms & Conditions.

What’s funny is, the idea that everyone responds better to a five star review than a three star review. There are a lot of readers, myself included, who are more likely to read a book after reading the three star review rather than a five star review. Why? Because these reviewers are still saying they liked the book, but there were problems with it. To me, it’s the most reliable review because it’s not sugar coating and yet, the person still enjoyed the book enough to rate it as three stars. I am a logical and realistic person. I know there’s no such thing as a perfect book, no matter how much I enjoy it. But I can point out issues in every book I’ve ever rated as five stars.

Third, blog tours are paid events to promote an author’s book. Most do not allow any reviews to be posted that are under three stars and ask that those reviews that are not three star or above, be posted after the tour has ended. That does not make the reviews the property of the author and does not guarantee a positive review. It simply ensures the time paid for only hosts the positive promotional items and reviews. I respect that and have never had a problem with asking to do a promotional post or excerpt instead. That being said, if I sign up for a blog tour and do not like your book, the review will still be posted online after the tour has ended. These reviews are my intellectual property and it’s my right to post them. I do not get paid for participating in a blog tour. I do not get paid for the time I spend reading these books and I do not get paid for my reviews. This means at no point does the content of my review belong to anyone other than myself. I, alone, will decide how to rate each review and where to posts these reviews. I do not mind posting reviews on sites such as Amazon, when asked. But I will not be bullied into a removing my review from any site.

Hopefully this will help clarify my reviewing process and what I will and won’t do. I enjoy promoting and will always be willing to promote books and their authors. All I ask is that there is a clear understanding that my willingness to promote does not guarantee a positive review. It also doesn’t not give anyone license to dictate how I review and where I post my reviews. Please remember reviewers spend a lot of time and effort between reading a book and writing their review. And also know, a low starred review isn’t the end of the world. It’s one opinion and you may find some extremely valid reasons in the review itself.


About Kristine

As an aspiring author, avid bookworm, fitness fanatic and dedicated mother, there just aren't enough hours in the day. I write or post about things I'm passionate about and spend my time trying to make the most of every day. Life may be a tough journey, but I have my ruby red slippers and am content on skipping along this yellow brick road until the end of the line.

22 comments on “Reviews: My Dos and Don’ts

  1. So much yes to this! I’ve not been straight up asked to remove a review, but I have been called out on social media by authors. It’s super frustrating as its my opinion, nothing else. Not a personal attack, just my thoughts on a book I took the time to read and review. I also agree with you that if a book is all 5 star reviews I am more apt to pass on reading it as it seems weird to me that everyone loved it. Great post.

    • I’m not against five star reviews, if I were, I’d never give any out. But they aren’t reliable. Ultimately, I’m going to read what I want to read, but if I notice a book has 900 five star reviews out of 915 reviews (randomly choosing numbers), I’m going to assume they are using paid reviews.

  2. The idea that anyone would fail to understand the importance of negative reviews is beyond me.

    Brilliantly argued! 🙂

  3. Reblogged this on Girl of 1000 Wonders and commented:
    What are your thoughts on being asked to remove a review? Check out Kristine’s experience.

  4. I didn’t know this was going on. I had no idea people had been asked to remove reviews. How sad.

    I am actually wondering why this hasn’t happened to me yet. I am not always as nice as I should be about books I dislike. :/

    • I’m so glad to hear you haven’t had this issue and I truly hope it will never happen to you. From what I’ve gathered, it happens. But out of all of the bloggers I asked (just a basic, have you been through this and how did you handle it?), only one had more than one experience with this. Most who replied had one and some had never experienced it.

  5. Wow, sorry you had to go through this experience! I don’t write reviews anymore or do any kind of promotional posts on my blog, and I also no longer rate books. Authors would really hate me lol. Good for you for standing firm in your review policy, and hopefully the author comes around and respects that (we can dream right?) 🙂

    • Thank you for reading it and I’m glad everyone has been really responsive to it. I didn’t want to attack an author, but I wanted it firmly out there that I do work hard on my reviews, I do spend my free time reading and review (for free) and will not allow someone to threaten me into changing my review to something that isn’t true.

  6. This is exactly what happened to me last month. I was even threatened with legal action if I didn’t remove my review from my blog and Goodreads. Just like with you, I was nothing but fair and honest in the particular review. I even gave it 2.5 stars which isn’t the WORST rating out there. Yet still, the author and her team felt like bullying me into removing it because of ridiculous reasons. Like, you, I stood my ground and didn’t remove anything at all. I was threatened that my blog would be taken down if I didn’t remove it. Or Goodreads would remove me. Long story, but I was so upset about it! I couldn’t sleep because of it and mainly because I KNEW I did nothing wrong. The author blocked me from her Twitter account a day after my review went up.

    I’m sorry you had this experience as well, but on the other hand, I’m almost glad to see I’m not the only one who has to deal with this crap. These are OUR opinions and we have the right to express those, in a respectful way. I changed my review policy recently as well, because of it, and can only hope this won’t happen again. There’s no value as a reviewer if everything gets 4 or 5 stars (unless you do feel that way about everything you read of course, then you’re just lucky ;).

    • I am extremely sorry you had to go through all of that. As long as the review isn’t geared towards the author in a negative way, I don’t feel these issues should arise. The last thing I would ever want is to be part of this kind of mess, especially since I know this can really ruin an indie author’s reputation. If there was just some way I could make my author realize that I was trying to be respectful and really did like her style of writing. But her behavior lost her a potential reader should she ever move into a more appropriate age/genre.

      • I’m just grateful that the book blogging community is so friendly and that we seem to have each other’s back if necessary :). Ha! Same thing with my author, I actually thought of buying another book of her to see if it was any better. Not so much anymore now. And she’s a well established author, which makes the entire thing absolute more nonsense. As if those 3 people who read my review will affect her sales’ ratings :D. *high fives* for sticking up for ourselves!

  7. Wow I honestly had no idea this occurred on amazon, let alone on GR! That is horrible and I absolutely agree that this cannot be tolerated! Thanks for sharing!!

    • Oh yeah. What’s happening to me is happening behind the scenes, so I respect them for doing that. But there have been some crazy instances where authors have completely gone above and beyond. Some completely lose all sense and reason in their responses. As I mentioned Cassandra Claire stalked people virtually and physically, back when her books were a fanfiction. On the other side there really are trolls who attack authors and so I feel bad, but I didn’t attack her, I just didn’t like her book.

  8. Excellent post! I personally have not had this issue but I know a lot of bloggers that have experienced it.

  9. Awesome post! I agree with everything you said. You’re a lot like me. I spend a lot of time on reviews, especially when there are some things that detracted from my enjoyment of the book. I try really hard to point out the positives and to phrase my complaints in such a way to not be insulting to the author. If I were you, I wouldn’t bend on this. It’s your right to state your opinion. The author has no right to ask you to take it down. It’s sad that there are still authors who are so unprofessional.

    I have been lucky (knock on wood) to not run into any of them yet. I did get asked to take a review down on Amazon because of spoilers (so they claimed), but that was by a review copy provider, not the author herself.

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