Bad Reviews Part 1: Why I Write Them

I'm doing well with my new year's resolution to review every book I read. I've so far reviewed all six books I have read since 1st January. But this resolution has thrown up a bit of an issue.

On the whole, you see, authors (especially self-published authors) love reviews. They lend credibility to the book and help buyers know whether it is for them. But no one likes getting a bad review, and since I've resolved to review every book I read it's likely that there will be the odd bad one among them. I believe in being honest, you see.

I have so far read two books I hated. I gave them both two stars. The author of the first responded by thanking me for reviewing it and expressing disappointment that I hadn't enjoyed it. Very gracious and reasonable. But a  mystery defender of substandard literature took umbrage at my comments and ranted about how unfair that was, and how since I was a religious person (he looked me up on Facebook) I was obviously narrow-minded and thus couldn't properly understand the book. Not only that, but as an Essex girl I wouldn't have the brains to know good literature when I see it.

I know how it feels to get a bad review, and it's not fun. But I also get annoyed when I spend my hard-earned money on a book which had nine gushing five-star reviews and discover that my eight-year-old has a better grasp of grammar and story construction than the author. If no one is prepared to admit that, actually, that book isn't very good then I am being duped into spending my money on a substandard product.

I have never complained about a bad review. Ever. I do what this author did - I graciously thank the reviewer. And I post the review on my Facebook page just as I do the good ones. To do anything else is petty and pointless. If you do anything within the public domain you can expect criticism and you have to learn to live with it. If you can't live with it, you need to not write books.

So fellow authors, if you want me to review your book, beware. If I don't like it I will say so. (But on the flip side, if I give it four or–very rare–five stars, you know I mean it.)


  1. I can say this tongue in cheek, because I don't think you have reviewed any of my books, but I am glad to see this post. I prefer my books to be reviewed by someone who doesn't pander, even if they are telling me something I don't want to hear. I believe we learn most from our critics. Just as a politician can surround himself with bobbleheads, so can an author, but there will be no growth. There are books that make bestseller lists that I don't care for. Taste is subjective. Subject matter affects our review. Some can forgive grammatical errors easier than others. We all have our hot buttons. In the end, it is still 1 six-billionth of the world's opinion.

  2. When I review books I try to create a sandwich. Say something good, then say the criticisms and then say something good again. I think you are being fair by being honest. I've seen some reviews that are badly written rants and it seems the writer is just interested in tearing apart the author. I know you don't do that.

  3. I haven't read your reviews, but as a reviewer myself I believe it is best to be honest and I appplaud you. There are always good things to say and it's helpful to the writer, at least in my opinion, to say when he/she has fallen short of intentions.



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