Negative Reviews: Are they Always Negative?

My Suspense/Thriller Writers group on Facebook is discussing the postive aspects of negative reviews this week, and Roni Gehlke left a comment that’s worth passing along.  Roni wrote:
As a reviewer and a writer I have to say that there are all kinds of ways people can give you a negative review. As a writer I don’t mind hearing people give me constructive criticism, especially if they know what they are taking about. After ten years I’ve developed a thick skin, at least I hope I have. I still get disappointed when I hear someone didn’t like what I wrote, but as long as there are others who do, I push forward.

I cannot abide by people who just appear to be mean spirited, though.

For example, I have a favorite author who is constantly getting bashed on Amazon. It isn’t that she is a bad writer, obviously l like her and she’s been around for over 30 years writing novels. I believe there are some people who don’t like her style because they don’t hold the same values she does and because of that they criticize everything she writes. Sometimes I have to ask whether these people have even read the book or are just writing a bad review to be mean.

This particular author writes contemporary western cowboy romance novels, about strong alpha men and virginal women. Just because one believes that there are no longer virgins in the world and strong alpha males are bruits doesn’t mean that the stories are bad.

Because you don’t agree with the author’s topic of writing is no reason to give a bad review. If you don’t like gay books or ménage books, don’t read them and don’t force you’re values on those who enjoy them. When bad reviews are written for this reason it is unfair to the author and unfair to those who may wish to read the book but then follow the advise of the reviewer and don’t.

Since I started reviewing books I work carefully to check out all angles of a novel. If the subject matter offends me, and little usually does, I won’t read it or review it. Why waste my time or the readers who may follow my advice.

If the book has fatal flaws like grammar errors, even I as a novice can find, then I might mention it and shave off a few points of the end score, but it doesn’t mean it will get a bad review either. If the story has a good theme, well thought out characters and in the case of suspense and thrillers, keeps me reading until the very last page it will get high scores from me.

One final note: I read an author’s blog a few months back where she was very upset that she had received bad reviews on one of her books. This is a tough industry. People give bad reviews in ignorance, in spite and just because they can. Authors spend a lot of time and put a lot of themselves into their work. The first few bad reviews may sting, but keep in mind that you will always get bad reviews before you will get good ones. More people will complain then praise. It is just a fact of life. Try to look at the bad reviews as a learning experience of what people don’t want to see, balance it with the good reviews of what people do want to see and get right back in front of that computer and start again. If you are lucky enough to get published, that says everything right there.

Happy writing.

If you are a fan of romance and happy endings, check out Roni’s Blog: Romance Books Scene.

4 Responses to “Negative Reviews: Are they Always Negative?”

  1. Roxanne Smolen Says:

    Negative reviews can keep you up at night and cause you to doubt your work. But I believe any review can be a good review because it gets the title of the book out into the public. Often the public forgets the bad review and only remembers that they’ve heard of the book.

  2. Sheila Deeth Says:

    If I ever get published, I think I’ll frame my ABNA review to remind myself that I lived through it. Big if. But I loved this article. I’ve started writing more reviews, and it’s reassuring to read how Roni writes them.

  3. Robin Gideon Says:

    Hi! A couple months ago my novella “A Royal Dilemma” was released, and one reviewer basically said it was unreadable. That same novella was awarded a Silver Star (basically, a sixth star in a five star rating system) from JERR, and was one of just four nominees for Best Historical 2008. Some folks are going to love you; others will hate you. What you need most is really thick skin.

  4. Mary Lynn Plaisance Says:

    Thank you for saying this. It needed to be heard. 🙂

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