Monday, May 12, 2014

We Need Nabobs of Negativity

Nobody likes getting a bad review.  I mean I gave Tony Laplume a bad review and he gave me the silent treatment for two months.  But this blog article praising the banning of ANY negative book review is taking it a bit far.

I'll be the first to say I want to slit the throat of anyone who gives me a 1-star review.  At the same time, giving someone else a one-star review sometimes feels really, really good.  Because if a book sucks (ie it's so slow and dull that you want to pitch your Kindle out a window) it feels good to vent about it.

No, it's not nice to say bad things about a book, which is why usually I restrict such reviews to authors who can take it.  I mean come on, Dean Koontz is probably never going to see my one-star review of Longest Evening of the Year.  And other times someone just really, really deserves it because their book SUCKS.  Not any of my books, of course.  They all rule and you should give them five-stars on every website on the Internet...what are you waiting for?  Go do it!

Anyway, as much as I hate getting bad reviews, simply eliminating every bad review ever makes book reviews in general worthless.  To take it away from books for a moment, imagine if you buy a toaster on Amazon but it's defective and nearly shocks you to death.  If Amazon had a "only nice reviews" policy, how would anyone know this toaster is a defective piece of shit?  As much as we might not want to admit it, sometimes bad reviews serve a purpose.

The Smokey Mysteries...Coming Soon!
But only if that bad review has substance.  There are certainly some bad reviews that should be banned.  Like if my whole "review" is a ten-page rant about how much I hate Tony Laplume, that's not a book review; it's a personal attack.  Or like some people I could name, your "review" says "This isn't the kind of book I read.  I read [authors who write completely different subjects.]"  Well hello, if you usually read thrillers then you probably aren't going to like a cozy mystery about a crime-solving tabby cat.  That's just common sense.

By all means get rid of the flame wars and the morons, but don't throw the baby out with the bath water.  That's as dumb as when Kobo banned all self-published erotica because a few titles had illicit material.  Stuff like that is just damned lazy, not to mention overly reactionary.

(Despite what I just said, I still reserve the right to deck the next person who gives me a 1-star review.  And I will do it with the boxing gloves I got from Amazon, which I rated at 3 stars because they're tight on my fat hands.)


  1. Also, despite what his Goodreads review says now, Pat still hates my book.

  2. The point of that other article was, I think, to take to task Buzzfeed's policy primarily because Buzzfeed gets money from affiliate marketing. There are FCC (FTC? I should know this) rules on disclosure for compensated posts and marketing posts and mostly Buzzfeed and HuffPo and the like seem to follow them. Taking it further and not allowing any negative reviews on the site seems a bit much.

    I guess where I get bugged is where the review seems to be about the person or about what I view as minor glitches. Not so much anymore, but I get dinged now and then for editing or grammar, which seems kind of like hitting an indie film maker for poor cinematography. My rule on stuff like that is mention it only if it destroys the book.

    I used to have a no-negative-reviews policy for indie authors but I've changed it, for mostly your reasons: if there's no negatives the reviews aren't honest.

    But also, I'm more than happy to dump a book that isn't holding up my interest, so I'm less likely to be so burned by a book that I post a negative review because I'll just quit on it.

  3. I've given only one one-star review. If it's bad, I tend to put it down and try to forget it. But on that one occasion, I gave a scathing review on Amazon. The author responded, but he did so with a pretty good attitude. I replied, but his book was so terrible, I wasn't going to give him a second chance with his sequel. The book read like a step-by-step account of playing an action video game.

  4. I think negative reviews can be helpful. My novel "Dead Links" hasn't been selling and I didn't know what to do to improve it until I got a review saying its too predictable. I'm going to work on that. But I don't want to destroy anyone. I read a novel that is riddled with problems , but I don't want to post a negative review and hurt another writer's career. At the same time, I think the problems can be fixed and other writers can learn from the mistakes. So I keep waffling on whether to post my review.

  5. Bad reviews are tough, but a necessary part of being an artist. We all have improvements to make. The key is to be constructive and not cruel. There's good in everything if you know where to look.



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