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Book Blogging 101 - Informing an author about a bad review

This is where I pretend that I know what I'm talking about.

Spawned from the Big Sis, Little Blog program, Book Blogging 101 was born. Do you have a question? Leave it in the google docs form and I'll try and answer them in the order they are received.

Q: An author has asked me to do a review of their book, which I didn't like. I'm planning on posting the negative review, however should I send them the link to it as they asked me to review it or rather not rub their nose in my critics? Thank you! 

A. From what I've heard authors don't like to have their noses rubbed in bad reviews. But, on the other hand I've had them email me and say please send me the link once you are done and then check in a few times via email for the review.

It is a battle of the rudeness right? First, you don't want to be rude and ignore them and never send them the link, but on the other hand you don't want to insult them with the bad review. On top of it, they might get upset when they read the bad review, which you definitely don't want to do. What a quandary!

Some bloggers go so far as to not even pen a bad review. If the books gets under a such and such rating they won't write it. This of course is up to your discretion as a blogger, but personally I think that is a sort of cowardly way of doing things. You are in this hobby to state your opinion of it.

I understand warring factors go through your mind. It just recently happen with my Halo by Alexandra Adornetto review. The book came from a publicist that I had just made contact with. She had sent me two books, once of which was Halo and asked for the review links. The first book was fine, I liked it I sent the review link. I could barely finish Halo. I didn't want to anger my new contact, but then again I didn't like the book. I actually wrote her in advance of writing the review and told her that the review would not be favorable, but I hadn't written it yet. She simply replied with a thank you and did not ask for the "bad review" link. I might have had a different reaction from the actual author of the book, which is why they have publicists!

In the beginnings of my blog bad reviews weighed more heavily on me, I was just making contacts, getting my feelers out and really just trying to make friends. I didn't want anyone pissed at me, especially not people in the publishing industry and authors. It happens though. I can think of two reviews where the authors were very angry with me after sending the links, but they had asked for them, so I sent them. I got scathing emails in return and I did reply, simply stating that my review is my opinion and I wish them luck with their book.

My first bit of advice would take care when writing the review. I have another BB101 post about writing bad reviews here. I would read that before you pen your bad review. You might hate the book that you just read, but there are certain ways that just are in bad form when penning your review. Take care and have a respectful tone when writing it. Think of it as if you are giving the author constructive criticism instead of throwing their book in the trash, lighting it on fire and cursing it's title ever chance you get.

Once you have a respectful, but honest review then my next bit of advice would be to email the author and be honest,  but only if they are requesting a link to the review. If they haven't requested a link, don't.  You don't want to rub it in their face that you wrote a bad review about their book.

Q: I know you do wonderful blog designs. I have seen them around the major book bloggers. I am still fairly new at book review blogging and only have 48 followers at this time. I really want a nice looking blog to go along with my content, but I just don't have the money to afford a big and fancy design at this time with only 48 followers. Is there any other sites you can recommend that has great designs focused on books for my blog? Any tips or hints on what should be on my blog to make it professional yet fun?

A. You know the new templates under Template Designers in BLOGGER has some great templates that you can customize easily just by playing around in it a bit.  It might not be as fancy as the ones I design, but you can make yourself something nice and make it yours by adding special touches, like searching for a free background that sets you apart.

My tips and hints: less is more. You want to make sure that you have FOLLOW gadgets on your site to make it easy for people to follow your blog and anything else is just extra. I did a BB101 posts on gadget must haves, here. That is a good one to read.

To keep it professional: Stay away from the frou-frou stuff. The playlist widgets and large banners from social sites, the countdown widgets for books and things like that. They tend to really slow a blog down. Put only integral widgets and gadgets up there to keep your load up and your readers scrolling seamless.

To make it fun: Add unique touches that make it your own. Reflect your own personality and reading habits with images or fun unique tidbits in your sidebars. Add fun quotes, or fun links. Make it your own.

Ask your BB101 Questions here...


Savannah said...

Nice post. I only got one author upset at me over a review. They were professional about it, but upset. I did take care in what I wrote, and I certainly did not rub their nose in it. I haven't had anything full blown. I hope that would never happen.

Annette said...

Very informative. Did I understand correctly that you do the design for your own blog? How creative! I'm impressed. It's really cute. I just don't have much of that creative stuff in me.

My other comment is that I'm glad you pointed out that some of those "extras" on people's blogs make them load REALLY slow. And I have a fast connection. I get somewhat annoyed when I have to wait for all that frou frou stuff to load, when I just want to read the post and/or make a comment.

Audra said...

Very nice post. I just had an experience in which I overall reviewed a book favorably, but highlighted a portion that felt very problematic. I had actually spent some time chewing over how much to say and in the end, opted to be polite about it. I'm so grateful I was because the author actually emailed me when she saw the review and we've had a great convo about the issue in question. She felt it was worthwhile getting in contact with me because I had been polite. It was a very real reminder for me that authors -- esp new ones -- do seek out every review to see what their readers think.

So, bottom line, I do think raising concerns about what didn't work for you as a reader can be very helpful in a review, both to other readers and the author.

Anonymous said...

great post! I wish I'd read this before I posted a negative review of this one book. The author apparently stalks her book reviews on Amazon and read mine. I felt I gave her constructive criticism, pointing out what I didn't like about the book (grammatical errors and such), but she took it very personal. I ended up removing my review because she wouldn't quit commenting about it. Lesson learned after that and reading this helpful post!

Audra said...

@Kathie: That's really too bad because I would have said that your feedback sounds v appropriate. I'm sorry you had to deal with that harassment although I find in that case, the author ends up looking like a maniac and you look even more reasonable! Still -- a yucky experience.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I do feel bad when I write something negative in a review but I try and be respectful about it because I can't not be honest. I have not had an author write me about unfaltering remarks. I'm not sure what I'd say if I got an email like that.

Stephanie G
Paranormal Haven

Jessi E. (The Elliott Review) said...

I have to admit that I am super-scared to write critical reviews. I have done a few, but I always try to bring it back to what would attract a reader who might like it... I did refuse to review one book because I couldn't think of one single redeeming thing to say about it.

ParaJunkee said...

@Savannah - you are very lucky. I think my thing is that I tend to sound very sarcastic in my reviews sometimes, which I try to work on it, but let's just say it is a ever existing problem. Sarcasm tends to make people angry. I try to tone it down a lot in my reviews, but I think it still comes out. Which in essence, the reason why I do get some feedback ;)

But, the good books that do have problems that I say are good books...except for these particular problems, I get great feedback from the authors. I even have had some email me and say they actually think the same thing and it was something they should have changed in edits. Which I thought was one of the most rewarding comments I've ever received.

@Annette - yes, I do my own design. It's actually what I do for a living so don't let it bother you that you are not creative. I actually have a big student loan that rationalizes this particular creativity ;)

@Audra - that is great that the author got in touch with you. It is very rewarding to get feedback like that. Polite is always the best bet - but always say what you mean and mean what you say, right? ;)

@Kathie - Hmmm I've had very very similar experience with an author on amazon, the author is all over her reviews and did not like my review at all. Wonder if it is the same author ;)

@Paranormal - You just say thank you for taking the time to contact me regarding my review. I apologize if my review did not sit well with you, but it is my opinion. I wish you all the luck in the future.... simple and nice, nothing more. back and forth just tends to turn negative.

ParaJunkee said...

@Jessi - not one single thing? Usually I just say, well I like the cover. LOL

Moonlight Gleam said...

Great post PJ!! I really appreciate all the posts you put up about blogging, it helps me alot being a new blogger and all haha :). Plus you answer all the questions I'm a little to shy to ask.

*hugs* thank you :)

LupLun said...

Publishers typically don't get in a snit over bad reviews. Actually, in library school I learned that even a bad review is better than no review, because even a bad review helps get the word out.

Authors may be another matter, of course. I maintain that any author with any potential will improve their writing rather than blame the critic, but of course this presumes that the critic conduct himself professionally and not get personal.

Lupines and Lunatics

Anonymous said...

Thanks for addressing that first one! I feel SO badly when I'm sent a book for review and end up giving it a not-so-positive review. I'm never rude and always point out the good as well as the bad but still... like you, I don't want anyone upset with me for being honest.

Emily said...

Ultimately I think it comes down to what you are comfortable taking responsibility for. I review and blog because I like to and because I enjoy the networking; I don't review and blog to stroke people's egos or to protect people from the opinions of others. If I like a book, I'll tell you. If I don't, I'll tell you. I made my review policy quite clear on the subject so that I could refer people to it if the need ever arose (thankfully, it hasn't.)

Regarding blog design, I'll go on record saying that if a blog has a music player that I can't turn off, I immediately close the window. Maybe I'm missing great blogs that way but I'm usually listening to something else while I'm on the computer and it just messes everything up. Just saying.

Leanna (Daisy Chain Book Reviews) said...

Very helpful post!

Something similar happened to me with Halo (I felt the same way as you about that one). I was sent it for review, and the publicists asked me to email the link when I was done reviewing. I explained to her that it wasn't for me, but that I had given it as balanced a review as I could, and she was fine with it. That said, she was a new contact and I haven't heard back since then. Oh well..!

I always try to be fair in my reviews and I don't email bad reviews to authors - never! I have seen people tweet bad reviews to authors. It's really not necessary! That said, I have had authors who've found my reviews themselves and have contacted me. It hasn't gotten nasty though. Not yet, and hopefully never!

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