Before 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.