Should Authors Write Bad Book Reviews?

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Reviewing books may be hazardous to your health, especially if you are an author. Kristen Lamb discusses her experiences and how they shaped her reviewing style.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have not published any books.  I have learned not to publish reviews on any books I did not like. If I strongly disliked, or worse, did not finish the book, I will not write a review.   Period.  To this day, I have only posted one negative review for a book.  I purchased the book, at full price, and expected to get a “full-price experience,” based on the glowing and outstanding reviews.  I did not.  I got something far less enjoyable and felt gypped. My negative review is still “live,” and will remain so, because my feelings were honest.    If I receive any negative feedback I will immediately delete the review.

The “anonymous bravado” of some people on the internet, is not pretty and not something I wished to engage in.  Seeing the vitriolic backlash towards reviewers and authors, has helped me determine when, and if, to post a review.   I will continue to give a book a low rating, if I feel it deserves it.  Amazon and Goodreads like to “recommend” future books, based on what I have already read. This not been a successful “system” for me.  I prefer to have books recommended to me via word-of-mouth or after reading remarks by reviewers who provide enough information about the author’s character development and mechanics of the story, rather than a marketing algorithm.

No review from me means  “I did not have time to write a review, and none was requested,” the book was “fine,” or “the book was so poorly written that ‘silence is golden.'”  If an author, or other reviewer, requests my thoughts, I will provide my honest thoughts.  If I rate a book as an “A,” “B,” or “C” (outstanding, very good or good), the review will go “live” without input from the author.  Anything lower, like a “D” (fair),  “F” (poor), or “DNF” (did not finish because…why bother?) will not be reviewed.  I will give my opinion of the book , along with an explanation as to what worked and did not work for me, to the author/reviewer, privately.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Okay, yesterday we had a little bit of a debate about leaving book reviews. First of all, the post is to warn you of the dangers of posting bad reviews as an author. Does it mean you can’t? No. Can you tweet while drinking and listening to LinkinPark? Yes, but you do so at your own risk. Same here. I am not the social media gestapo, but I am here to warn you of the hazards that are REAL.

We Never Know Who People Know

I once commented offhandedly to an acquaintance about a book I was reading. I wasn’t nasty, I just mentioned that I found it confusing and the dream sequences were messing me up. I also added that it could be me. I WAS seven-months pregnant, so I added the caveat that it could just be Baby Brain.

Little did I know the acquaintance was BEST…

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Blog Giveaways on Facebook and Learning to Step Away from Them

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For several months I entered book giveaways sponsored by book blogs like an addict seeking her next fix.  The lure of free e-books, paperbacks, bookmarks, magnets and countless other swag was mesmerizing.  It appealed to my basest, “if it’s free, it’s for me” desires.

I clicked away like a mad woman.  I “liked” authors I had not heard of, genres I did not particularly care for, books I would likely never read, and unknown blog, after unknown blog.  I was fanatical in my glee!  I reasoned that the more giveaways I entered, the greater my odds of “winning.”Image

And, I did win.  I won a few well-written e-books, a few not-so-well-written e-books, a couple of signed paperbacks and postcards, magnets and bookmarks.  For some of the books I enjoyed, I wrote reviews and downloaded the authors’ backlists.  For the books I did not like, well…at least I attempted to read them, before relegating them to the “did not finish,” or “do not buy” piles.

A few bloggers posted their dismay on Facebook.  They were unhappy that hundreds of people would run over to their Rafflecopter sites and enter the free contests they advertised and sponsored.  Once the contests ended and the winners were announced, many of their new “followers” simply “unliked” their sites.  My initial thought was, “You should never expect anything, when you offer something for nothing?”  The only requirements for the giveaways were to “like” a bunch of sites, share the giveaways on other Social Media outlets, and sometimes leave comments on the blog.   No real commitments were necessary.

One blogger, however, posted her true feelings on her Facebook status.  She was upset, and hurt, that folks only entered the contests to “win.” It sparked a discussion on how the giveaways were structured.  In that moment, I realized why I did not like the giveaways – they were one-sided with no reciprocation.  The raffles had a finite timeline.  None of the bloggers who sponsored them committed to following the people who entered the contests. There was no give-and-take.  In more than one case this frustrated me, as wondered if they even read the comments posted.  Wasn’t the point to help one another grow each other’s blogs?  No, but it should have been.

At the writing of this post, only two of the blogs I “liked” and “followed” have “followed” me, in return.  This let me know they actually read the comments posted.  Those blogs have my support as they continue to grow their readership.

As for continuing to participate in giveaways…well, “if it’s free, it’s for me,” right?  Perhaps.  In a much more selective manner.

Motivation to Write

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As an amateur blogger, or rather an inconsistent blogger, I am often unsure of how often to post.  Daily writing challenges might work for me while I am not in school, but are unrealistic once my schedule changes.   Weekly challenges are another option because I can schedule it into my calendar.  But, choosing the day to post may send me into an ADHD stress spiral.welcome to my blog now what

So, I have been posting as spirit, stories or books have moved me to do so.  Not the most consistent blogging style, but I have been able to record my thoughts and feelings when they are”freshest,” and therefore, the most transparent.

I been responding to more posts on other bloggers’ sites.   These conversations are helping me find my blog voice and led to some of my own posts.   I feel less “shy” about posting, and more confident about my feelings.   Respectful discourse can be stimulating to read and participate in.

Share with me how you remain consistent in your blogging.  What prompts you to write?