We have the POWER!

August 26, 2016 Discussion 4

This post was originally 3000 words long. I may have had a bit of a rant and just let the words flow! You will be thankful that I then went back and edited and there are now a lot less words (and hopefully a lot less ranting!) but something important that I wanted to discuss.

My dad owns his own business and a few weeks ago someone wrote a negative review on the website. But it was more than just a negative review. It made accusations, false accusations, it used scary words. The kind of words that can really damage a businesses reputation

The person who wrote this review probably forgot about the whole thing a few days later. But those negative and untrue words will stick on that website and with that business for a very long time.

And it’s totally the same with books. We read a book, write the review, post it and then move onto the next book. I probably couldn’t even tell you what my last 5 reviews are.

Us book bloggers get a lot of negativity towards them. There have been articles written about us and if we are necessary. Do we really have any power over book sales? Can we convince someone to buy a book they wouldn’t usually be interested in reading? A lot of people would say no, but I would like to disagree.

When I was younger I had a weekend job in retail and we were always told that a customer that had a good experience would tell up to 3 people, whereas a customer who had a bad experience would tell up to 10 people who would then in turn tell more people. That is a lot of people who now have a negative opinion of that shop just from one persons feedback, and it’s the same with book reviews.

We are not going to change the world with our reviews. I know that my one hypothetically bad review of the Hunger Games (which I love by the way!) is not going to massively effect the sales of the book or loose Suzanne Collins a ton of money. There are so many reviews out there for the Hunger Games that chances are hardly anyone is going to see my review. But there are some that might, and I could be causing them to miss out on the experience of a book that they would absolutely love because of my review.

I can’t tell you the amount of books that I have avoided because a blogger I like has not liked it. There are some bloggers that I have followed since the start of my own blogging journey. I have found new and amazing books through them, and so when they say that they don’t like a book and list the reasons why I recognise that these are things that I wouldn’t like either and so avoid it.

This is the great thing about book blogging, because I have wasted so much time in the past on books which I end up not enjoying, time which I could have spent reading a book that I would actually enjoy. So I put my trust in the bloggers that I follow, and I guess that the people who read my blog put their trust in me. (Which totally scares me!)

When I write reviews for books I didn’t enjoy I always go down the “It wasn’t for me but it might be for you” route. I will list the reason I didn’t like it, whether it be a love triangle or a fantasy world that didn’t live up to my expectations or whatever else. Because they are things that I don’t like, but someone else might. So by listing them as my reasons then it gives people the chance to see why I have written a negative review and lets them make up their own minds about whether these things would ruin a book for them too.

I am never rude about books, because what right do I have to be? Just because I didn’t enjoy it doesn’t mean I have the right to destroy the reputation of someones book. If the book is offensive in anyway then yes, I will say that. But no book deserves to be destroyed just because I didn’t like it, and when I see reviews that do this it makes me kind of mad.

For example, I’ve seen quite a few negative reviews for Harry Potter and the Cursed child these past few weeks. People have talked about how much of a let down it was and how the whole book was a total scam. But when you read further into some of these reviews what are the reasons for these accusations?

“It is NOT written by JK rowling and is in my opinion a complete scam”

“I opened the book and was disappointed as it was laid out as a script”

“I pre-ordered expecting a book and I got a script not entirely written by J.K. Rowling. What a rip-off.”

(these quotes came from the 1 star reviews page for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on Amazon.co.uk)

J.K.Rowling made no secret about the fact that the play was written by Jack Thorne and not herself. His name is on the front cover, he is listed as the author on every website you can buy this from. Again, no one tried to hide the fact that this book was going to be a script. When it was announced, it was announced as a script of the play. It says it on the cover, it says it as the title on all the websites.

I get that there are negatives for this book, I enjoyed it but even I could pick out things that I didn’t like. But there are many reviews that seem to be 1 star purely for the reason that people believe that they were scammed into buying a book that is actually a script and not written by J.K.Rowling. They didn’t listen to what they were being told and so now the book has to suffer for it.

Sure, J.K.Rowling isn’t going to loose any money over a few bad reviews and there will still be hundreds of thousands of people that will still buy the book. But some naive person may read one of those reviews, not knowing, and their opinion of J.K.Rowling may be forever changed because they now believe she is all about scamming people into buying a book.

Our words have power and we need to remember that. We need to recognise the things that we did not like about a book but accept that some people may like those things that we hated. I always find negative reviews the hardest to write, especially if it’s a book that I really strongly do not like. These are the review that take me the longest to write and the ones that I check over and over again.

So what am I saying? Should we stop writing negative reviews? No, not at all.

We need honest reviews. We need people to feel comfortable to share why they hated a book, and I hope that no one reads this post and thinks that I am trying to get people to silence their opinions. If I hate a book then I am going to write about it and I will tell people that I hated it. I am just feel a lot more aware of the impact my words can have.

People tear book bloggers down, they say we are not necessary. But we are. We are an important part of the book process and our voices should be heard, whether they are say positive or negative things about a book.

We are amazing, and we have the power!

Have you ever worried about a negative review you have written? Do you avoid books that other bloggers you follow haven’t liked?

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4 Responses to “We have the POWER!”

  1. Haley M.

    I used to be a lot more harsh than I am, and I still do let my emotions get the better of me sometimes. I am, at my core, a very honest reviewer–and my goal is to lead more of a discussion than be strictly a book review anyway. But, I do try to see it from all angles now, and write a little more objectively. I also try not to tag authors in negative reviews, so they don’t as easily see them.

    However, I am a little more critical of books that are on bestsellers lists and classic lit. Things that I know I’m not going to really affect the sales on THAT much.

    Today’s review of High Fidelity is going to be like that. I hated the book and I’m going to tell you exactly why. But it’s been out since 1995. It’s a movie. It’s a bestseller. I’m probably the last person on earth who has read it, and Nick Hornby is not going to lose money for me telling 25 people why I didn’t like his main character.

    So, I have pretty mixed feelings on this. I see both sides, as a book blog. I want to be well liked. And I want authors to succeed for what they do well. But I also have pretty strong thoughts and analysis on the books I read…and that’s why I started writing in the first place. Not every book I read is new–in fact most books I read AREN’T new. And I think it’s important to have a place to discuss them.

    • Brocs Bookcase

      I too let my emotions get the better of me sometimes. I think that this is where this whole post came from. In the space of a few days I saw an unfair review for my family’s business and then I saw a lot of unfair reviews for HP and the whole thing just made me a little angry and became this post. (I tried to make it as little ranting as possible!)
      I too avoid tagging authors in negative reviews. I always feel guilty when I write a negative review. I feel so bad that this author has spent so much time on writing this book and I have picked at it. All part of being a book reviewer I guess, but not an easy part.
      I totally get where you are coming from with the impact that our reviews have on very popular books. We are not going to massively impact on the sales at all. But I have read books before which have gotten bad reviews and absolutely loved them. What if I write a bad review for a book which means that someone who may have actually liked that book doesn’t pick it up? Sure, it’s only 1 person, but that 1 person could miss out on a book that they would really enjoy.
      I think that negative book reviews are important and I think that we should continue to write them, I just feel that they are a lot more powerful than a positive book review, and require a little more care.
      Thanks for commenting, you make some really good points 🙂

  2. Lindsey @ Lindsey Reads

    Great post! It’s true that one review may not majorly impact a book’s sales, but there will definitely always be an impact.

    I’m a bit like you in that my reviews are more in the style of “I didn’t like this and this, but if you like this and this then you might enjoy it’. I’m gonna be honest if I didn’t like it, but I’ll do my best to explain why. Arguments are important.

    If I read a bad review for a book I’ve wanted to read I’ll definitely check out the arguments first. If they are clear and respectfully phrased and sound like something that’s important to me, I may decide not to read the book. But even then this may not always be the case, because I may still want to give the book a chance and decide for myself.

    I think it is super important to write honest reviews, even if they are bad, but I think it’s equally important to still respect the author. They put a lot of time and effort into this book so the least we can do is try to eloquently and respectfully explain what we didn’t like. Most importantly, without directly attacking the author or any reader who might still enjoy this book.

    • Brocs Bookcase

      Definitely! I think so many people forget that there are real people behind these books, a person who has feelings. Respecting the authors is so so important!
      There are some books that I have read bad reviews for but still decided to take a chance on, but these are books that I usually get from the library or borrow from someone else, just in case the bad reviews are right, so I haven’t wasted my money on a book I didn’t enjoy.
      Thanks for checking out my post, and for your comment! 🙂