Thursday, October 13, 2011


Have you ever had a negative review?   I am here to tell you that this is not a perfect world.  If all you want are the happy happy joy joy feeling from a 5 star or what ever a particular reviewer uses, GET OUT NOW!  Not gonna happen unless you write all the reviews yourself, pay someone to give them to you, or happen to have a wonderful family that will write whatever you ask for.  

Negative reviews are not necessarily the end of the world.  It is still publicity of sorts.  But the most important thing to look at is why.  Why is the reviewer giving you a negative review?  Read what they say, and ask yourself, is there any basis for the negative review? Can you say this free piece is the best example of your work? Did you put everything into it that you would have put into a manuscript that you were/are going to submit to a publisher?  Perhaps, perhaps not, but I think it is something we all need to think about.

1:  “The editing was poor, and it kept me from enjoying the book.”  I actually read one of those.  I read the entire thing, taking much longer to read it than I normally do.  This is a review that might be helpful.  Is there a problem with the editing?  I doubt the E publisher for the one I read even sent the book  to an editor before it went out.  It was wrong on so many levels. 

If this is the case, and you go back and read it, then there is a valid reason for the negative review.  I managed to find the story underneath, but I really let the author know that it was a tough read.  This is fixable.  What you do here can either make you a jerk for being mean to the reviewer, or a better author for actually taking the time to follow up and even correct the problem.

2: Recently I heard from an author about a negative review because the reviewer said that the story contained anal sex.  The book in question did not have anal sex in it at all.  With this type of negative review, you have a right to be upset and a response is warranted.  Whether or not  the reviewer is a responsible person is another story. But before jumping to conclusions, maybe the reviewer has over extended herself and got the story mixed up with another story.  I myself only read one story/book at a time, so that I do not make such mistakes!

3:  Another thing that I’ve seen is that a reviewer will only read two or three pages in and decide that that is enough to give a value judgment on a person's life work.  This seems to happen even when the piece is free.  I ask myself why.  I have no good answers for you. Is it fair?  Is it right?  Is it ethical?  I have no clue. But if a review is based on less than an evaluation of an entire work, the reviewer should state that is the case.

4:  Do reviewers actually do reviews on books they have not read?  WOW-- scary question.  I have read every single book I have reviewed.  Good, bad, mediocre, I have read them all.  The reason you do not see me posting a review a day is because in reality, I do not read that fast. I read, I actually take notes, If something Doesn’t feel right, I might reread the paragraph or page.  I then write the review.  After writing, I send it to my editor. He often asks questions if I was not specific enough or unclear.  Once it is edited, I post it with the blurb, author bio and any photos. I have no clue how other reviewers review, what format they use, or what they look at.  Are there unscrupulous reviewers out there?  I personally don’t know any.  I have heard rumors, but without verification or proof, that is all that it is.

5:  Are authors mean to reviewers and maybe other authors?  I have heard rumors, some substantiated, most not.  Is it fair? Is it morally or ethically correct?  Probably not.  In reality, the only person it hurts is if one is malicious is oneself.  

6: Do some reviewers get paid to review?  Yes.  I pay very little attention to those reviews.  Personal preference, not a judgment. Caveat and FTC Disclosure-I accept free copies for reviews (some may argue that is getting "paid').  I review books because I love books. I love the authors that write the books.  If I got paid, it would become a job, although I have been heard to joke that I wish someone would pay me to stay home and read books.  

In closing, reviews and reviewers are as different as the types of books they review.  Are there things that I won’t review? M/M erotica is not high on my list, neither is horror. I'm not fond of nonfiction either simply because I read a lot of it for work. When I review a work, I will give my opinion. Like any review, It is subjective. Take it for what it is worth. 

Edited By Bruce Cohen Gateway Editorial  Services


  1. Excellent post Alexx and you have covered so many vital areas when reviewing.

    Personally, I won't ever say I downright "hate" a story. I will say that what I don't like about it but also back it up with some positive comments. I read a story once that had a terrific under story to it and that is what the editor should have picked up on but didn't.

    Personally I can not stand to read reviews where the reviewer has slammed the author themselves. That is not on!

    As for being paid to a review...grrr! Get a job on a newspaper or on a magazine. I feel quite strongly about it. As review bloggers we do it because we enjoy doing it. The love of books outweighs being paid to read and review.

    To authors,unfortunately not every book you write will be received with open arms and glowing reviews and Alexx is right. Take note of what the reviewer says as you will quite often or not see merit in what they say.

    BUT if they have a go at you at a personal level, even though it will hurt, smile, write them a polite response, thanking them for their review and how you are sorry it did not live up to their expectations but you hope in future that if they review any more of your books that it does.

  2. Negative reviews have been in the limelight of authors lately and as a reviewer, if I can't give a positive review with 3 or higher. I will contact my review coordinator and explain the circumstances. It could just be me, I may not be intrigued by the plot or genre and I feel it's unfair to base a review on my preference. There have been times that the blurb I read prior to requesting the book for review is NOT what the book really is about. SO to be fair and maintain my quality status as a reviewer...I send it back to the database. And I always finish every book that a review is posted in my name. I do reviews for three sites,with a wide variety of sub-genres of romance.

    Very well stated and people (reviewers and authors) need to take note of this

    Dawne P

  3. Good, even post, Alexx. I write movie reviews and am careful not to inject too much of taste into a review. But that is different from book reviews. Yes, I do read reviews and if it's less than four stars, I am looking for a way to improve. And I have taken advice, especially from one reviewer. The negative reviews where someone didn't read the book or was being mean hurt but only for a little while. People have to live with their bad attitudes. I don't review books for friends most of the time, unless I really love a book. I don't want to hurt another writer, especially when it's just my opinion. Someone else might feel differently.
    Great post. Fair-minded on an issue that is so controversial these days.

  4. Great post! I'm glad that you take such care and consideration when doing your reviews. :)