Negative Reviews: Spread Them or Nahh?

We’ve all been in this position: you read a book and you don’t like it. At all. And that’s fine because everyone is entitled to their opinions.

But should you spread the negative review out?

When I read a book that I don’t like, I don’t hesitate to state my opinion. I write my review on my blog, and I make sure to explain why I didn’t like this book. And this explanation is really important to me; I want to make sure people who read my blog post understand what made this novel not work. I do all of this in an effort to show people my perspective so that (hopefully) they can have a better picture of whether this novel works for them or not.

But by writing this review, I also have to admit that I may be turning people off of the book. And this makes me feel really guilty. Being an author and publishing your book is no small feat: a lot of hard work, dedication, and soul goes into that novel. This is the author on a plate. And by posting my review, I just pooped on it. Is it fair for me to dissuade other people through my negative review? It’s something that haunts me every time I post the words “I didn’t like this book.”

My other concern when writing a negative review is … do I post it on other platforms? I have a bookstagram account and a Twitter that is solely for books. When I write a review, I make a post or a tweet encouraging others to read it. But so far, I have refrained from doing it with negative reviews.


Because I don’t want my opinion to spread too far. This blog, which I am working on nurturing and growing, has a relatively small reach. The chances of hundreds or thousands of people seeing my post are minimal when I keep it on my blog – not to mention, the author will probably not see it. I don’t want to hurt their feelings by posting a negative review that someone on Twitter or Instagram can then tag them in. Like I said, they poured their heart into this and I don’t want to be the one to break their heart.

So now, I’m throwing this question out to the book reading and blogging community: what do you do when you have a negative opinion about a book? Do you shout it out to the world or do you keep it to yourself?

0 thoughts on “Negative Reviews: Spread Them or Nahh?

  1. Interesting debate here. I hope more people come back and comment on this to see others opinions on this matter. I don’t write many negative reviews as luckily I enjoy most of the books I read. However I have written some in the past and I agree with you. I hate writing them as I really do feel bad for the author. But I will be honest and I think as long as I explain why it didn’t work for me, then I am being fair. Others may well love the book. I also would prefer not to post my reviews on the other sites. I had an author ask me for my review of his book before and it was a negative one. I did send it to him because he asked. But I also said if you prefer I won’t post this on goodreads. He was grateful for that.
    I imagine there will be differing opinions in this though.

    1. When I get an ARC from Netgalley or Edelweiss, I post my review on all platforms. When it’s on an open source, I don’t necessarily feel bad for posting my review on Goodreads, Twitter, or Amazon. But when an author reaches out to me personally to send an ARC, then I feel conflicted. I always send a copy of my review to them via email or through a link to my blog post on Twitter as a DM but I’ve never had any author ask me not to post my review on other platforms.
      I think it becomes even harder when you have a rapport with the author before reading the book; in those situations, I feel even worse that I didn’t like their book and posted a negative review. It’s one of the reasons why I avoid reading books by people who are friends of mine. Or i don’t try to establish a rapport at all with them.

  2. Different strokes for different folks! What one reader dislikes, another will love!
    I do post negative reviews on my blog for the reasons above, but always try to find a positive and will only tweet it once, I wouldn’t over promote a negative review. But fortunately, i don’t get that many to do. If I’ve tried something different, say for a book club read, I’ll always say it was not the norm for me and that’s why it wasn’t for me.
    This is one of those discussions that can just go round and round!

    1. Yeah I don’t think there is any one right answer. It’s definitely important to not overly bash a book; one time is enough!

  3. I am the same as you, I always try to explain exactly what didn’t work for me in a book. I know from experience that what I didn’t like may be exactly what someone else is looking for, and as a reader, I have often found that well-thought-out negative reviews are far more likely to help me decide whether to read a book than the gushing positive ones. I do post mine on GoodReads as I figure if that’s where I tend to check out reviews (for the reasons stated above), it’s probably where a lot of other people are as well.

    1. Glad to know I’m not the only one in this position! I always post my reviews on Goodreads – it’s Twitter, Instagram, and Amazon that I worry about.

  4. I hate giving negative reviews, but I do post it once or twice on social media. I’ve definitely learned not to tag the author… Unless it’s super positive and I’m jumping off the walls happy (like I might with The Heart Forger because OMG SO GOOD).

    I think lately I’ve refrained from posting negative reviews as well… But I’ve been unmotivated sometimes. 😭

    (Will admit some reviews are fun to write.)

    1. Haha yes I definitely don’t tag the author – that’s just rubbing salt into the wound. I think I’m going to continue to post my reviews and thoughts like I usually do. As long as I do it respectfully, I don’t think there is anything wrong with me sharing my opinions about a book.
      I’m jumping off the walls because you like The Heart Forger so much!!
      What reviews do you find fun to write?

        1. Yeah, I bash the characters a lot. Like calling them stupid. I find it gets rid of the frustration I felt when I was reading the book!

  5. Although I don’t review books I DNFed however I’m planning every three months to talk about the books I DNFed and why I DNFed them, explaining my reasons. With my reviews particularly when I didn’t like the book, I always stress out at the end that they may end up liking. We don’t all share the same reading tastes, somethings that work for us won’t for others and vice versa.

    I think as long your review explain the reasons why it didn’t work for you, there’s not a problem because you’ve explained rather than just saying ‘it’s shit’ or something like that. But equally if there was a book that a lot of the book community read and all had the same issues with, perhaps it’d be useful for the author to read the constructive criticism. Obviously I get that they put a lot of work in, since I also write and I can’t begin to imagine the hours they spent on their book but as a writer they should at least want to improve.

    Personally I do review books I didn’t overly like, but I usually point out the aspects I liked and those I didn’t. If there weren’t any aspects I liked well…we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it since i’ve usually managed to find something I’ve liked with most of the books I read.

    Great post Vee, I also agree with you to not tag the author in a negative review on twitter. I don’t tag authors in any reviews. If I liked the book I tend to just shout about it and tag the author through that way haha

    1. Thanks for sharing! When I first started blogging, I had no qualms about posting and explaining my negative comments about a book because I didn’t have Twitter or bookstagram. But now that I do, I’m more conscious of spreading it. I’m definitely going to take your advice on not tagging authors unless I absolutely love the book!

      1. haha I just send out tweets raving about it and tag the author – I don’t link them to a review (even if I do have one) I just like to show my love by shouting haha

        1. Ohhh that’s a good idea! I don’t think I’ve ever done that! I’m still relatively new to Twitter and I don’t interact with too many people or tweet on my own!

          1. I’ve tweeted Chloe Neill several times before and gotten a replies and/or likes, I also tweeted Susan Dennard who replied – I was asking a question about Truthwitch. I’ve also tweeted to Holly Bourne whose liked my tweets. So you know, there’s always the chance.

          2. That’s true! I tweeted my review link and tagged an author and both times when I did that, they replied back! It was for a positive review because I never tag when it’s a negative review!

  6. This is a really interesting post! If I’ve DNFed a book, I don’t review it at all. If I’ve finished but not enjoyed it, I’ll post me review and share it on Twitter, but without tagging anyone in the link. And if it’s from NetGalley or something, I’ll let them know in the little feedback box that my review is going to be critical and they can contact me about it if they want to, but no issues with that so far. As other people have said, I do also try and highlight positives about the book, and I make it clear that my critique is of the book and not the author (unless the author has done something appalling, which hasn’t yet been an issue, and in which case I probably wouldn’t read the book at all!).

    1. That’s a great approach! I’m definitely going to put something in the little feedback box from now on! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Luckily enough I haven’t come across a bad book since I started blogging but yes I would publish it even if it’s a bad review!

    And…. I think I would spread it too unless it’s not too harsh. Because you do have to promote your posts and sometimes authors need some critical feedback though I would definitely NEVER tag them.

    And I don’t review all books I read? Haha I am selective af. And I believe a good idea to write and post negative reviews is by writing a couple of mini reviews in one post with a mix of good and bad books like Cait at paerfury does! That way your post isn’t completely negative!

    And great discussion post Vee!

    1. Ohhh yeah I review every book I read! It’s interesting because I’ve never considered being selective about the reviews I put out! I will definitely consider that and check out Cait’s blog! Thanks for letting me know and I’m glad you liked the post!

  8. I used to post negative reviews on the blog too, but now I just keep them for Goodreads and possibly Amazon. I’ll tell you why it’s important to put it on Amazon though – what if you save someone some money? Otherwise they’d buy a book they really hate? What if they have the same problems with this book as you do? It’s useful to mention it in the review what you had a problem with (in a respectful way). If I was considering buying a book, but then read your review and found out that it has such and such triggers, or maybe the characters were using this trope it turns out I hate, your negative review could do me a world of good by saving my money and my possible anger at spending it unwisely.

    1. That’s really true. I look at Goodreads and Amazon before deciding to buy a book because I’m too poor to buy something that I will end up not liking! Thanks for the support, I feel better about posting negative reviews!

  9. This is such a nice discussion. I do agree with you on all the points. I too try to restrain my negative reviews to my blog. Once such thing happened recently when I published my review for The Hazel Wood. Many people said that now they will go with fewer expectations now. But I was not happy to read it. I wanted them to read it exactly how they expected it to read in the first place and then see themselves if it worked for them or not.
    So yeah, your negative reviews definitely impact the readers, especially if they trust you. I also make sure to not tag the authors in negative reviews on social media.

    1. I’m so glad you share my dilemma! I’m just one person and to see other people basing their judgements of a book based on my review worries me. What if they missed out on a read they loved because of my review? But that’s also why I always end my reviews with a little summary of why it didn’t work for me and say that my rating is based on my personal feelings. I almost never tell someone to skip a book.

  10. Promoting your blog post is okay but it’s kind of sensitive because you never know who you might offend! In books I don’t like I’ll still try writing what I enjoyed and also add what kind of books I enjoy so that the reader gets a sense of where I’m coming from. Sometimes, if you know someone who loved the book it might be useful to include their reviews too so that the person reading your post can better make a judgement if the book is for her and it also helps with the guilt

  11. I think you should go ahead and post negative reviews — do the same promotion for them as you do for books you liked. There’s a lot of good reasons to do this. 1 — Not everyone is going to like every book, so going ahead and posting helps your readers decide better whether they’ll read the book. People follow you for your opinions, so don’t be afraid to help them out! 2 — I think posting and promoting negative reviews as you would positive ones lends you credibility as a blogger/reviewer. If all people ever see are positive reviews from you, they might think you just love everything that comes your way and quit taking your opinion into account. 3 — Last thing: No, it’s not great for the author, but negative or critical reviews, especially if you specify why you didn’t like it, can make the author’s writing better if they happen to see your review. If they don’t, it can help other budding writers.

    This was an interesting discussion! Found you because you liked my comment on BeautyBeyondBones’ most recent post and I was so excited that this was a book blog bc that’s mainly what I follow! Looking forward to reading more from you 🙂

    1. Omg thanks so much for commenting! I agree that it’s important to put my opinions out there. I feel a lot better about sticking to my guns and posting how I feel about a book!
      Yay I’m so excited! I hope you like my posts!

  12. I post negative and positive reviews. I never ever tag an author in a review under 4 stars, but I will post on my blog/goodreads/Twitter. The reason being is i have actually read a book (and loved it) based off of a negative review. What one person hates, another may love.

    1. That’s very true! Everyone has their own personal preference, and I can recall so many instances where people love books that I disliked and vice versa!

  13. Yeah, this is a very debatable topic. I think it’s important to remember what it means to be a book reviewer.

    Looking at it from an angle of hopefully becoming a published author myself someday (God willing), I’d rather have honest, constructive opinions (good or bad) on my writing than light-hearted “you’re writing is fine, nothing ever needs to be improved on,” reviews. Again, I’ll say that any reviews written, positive or negative, should give a detailed account of what it was that drew in or repelled the reader in a respectable manner. Personal attacks are NEVER condonable. (Also, not every book is for every reader! And that’s okay!) Both reviewers and authors should keep that in mind.

    I think in today’s day and age we mistake constructive criticism (in its true form) as personal attacks. Therefore, we as book reviewers should be very aware of what and how we write. If done properly, I don’t think writing a negative review of a book is bad. Do I shout it from a mountaintop? No–but that doesn’t stop me from sharing my thoughts on different platforms. I don’t tag authors in reviews as I do want to be conscious of decorum!

    Book reviews are our personal opinions, and opinions vary from person to person. So, if I dislike a book that you love or visa versa, that’s great! That’s why we are all here–to discuss books!

    Great post, Vee 😀

    1. Great points made! It’s awesome to hear it from your perspective, especially since this post is really about the author and how they feel about receiving negative (but constructive) reviews!

      1. Not that I’m an author–haha! Someday! (Dreaming 💭) I’m sure not everyone looks at it the same, and that’s fine. I’d just hope that professionalism is taken into consideration on both the blogger and author’s side.

        1. Well you will be someday and I have complete faith in you! I have always been the kind of blogger who tries to read every book, and while my reviews can sound harsh, I’m very careful about giving explanations for everything I say without spoiling the book. I also mention if other people on Goodreads had better opinions of it so that readers of my post know that there are positive reviews. I just feel guilty a lot. This stems from an author who gave me a copy of their book and I didn’t really like it but I explained my points and sent them my links because they asked for it, but then they tried to engage in conversation to try to explain why they did things the way they did… and it made me feel a bit uncomfortable?

  14. I think it’s important to post negative reviews. I do, and while I do feel guilty at times, I also like to make it clear why I felt negatively about a book. I also always try to let readers know that it’s okay if they like the book and try to compare the book to something. For example: if you like …. then you’ll most likely love this book. Great discussion!

    1. I like the idea of coming up with other books that are comparable to this one! It’s something I really want to incorporate into my posts eventually. I’m glad you liked the discussion!

Leave a Reply