I didn’t want to write about this because I’ve clearly typed in my Review Policy and Rating System pages that my reviews have “no-sugar coating” (that was before, I edited it so that it’ll be more explicit now) and that I will be completely a.k.a. 100% honest in them while trying to be as objective as possible. However, from the reactions I’ve received from a number of authors lately, I’ve no choice but to write a post and hope that my message and reasons will somehow get across to some of them.
Now, you may already be aware of this but reviews from consumers are one of the crucial parts for online marketing because when consumers see something with low/zero reviews, they’re less likely to buy the product. I mean, how many of us will actually pick up a book with an overall 1 star rating on Goodreads or similar sites? That’s a huge loss to the publisher and it’ll hurt the author because she/he/they definitely worked damn hard to write the content. So, I must clarify that yes, I’m very aware that the authors and publishers are incredibly kind to let me review their books/ARCs despite my blog being tiny. I mean, they certainly didn’t have to choose me, much less approve of my request because there’s no doubt that there’s a vast ocean of book review blogs out there, and that they could’ve just breeze through mine. Thus, when I do get approved/accept a review request, I do my best to give what they ask. An honest review.
For me, the other reason why reviews are requested is so that the author/publisher can have varying perspectives on why some things work and why other things don’t. From there, they can improve the product and re-release it to the public or work on making a new and better one. They can also ensure that similar issues won’t be raised again in the future. With that said, I admit that I write more detailed and thorough reviews for books that I’ve requested and books that I’ve been approached to review. However, by this, I mean that I actually type down just about everything that I’ve noted, be it positive or negative. Why? Because an honest review was requested.
So yeah, I don’t write reviews to be petty. I don’t write reviews to flame or troll or to be ‘scathing’—which is either ‘witheringly scornful’ or ‘severely critical’ depending on whatever the person using this word is feeling. I do my best to provide constructive criticism and opinions that are as objective as I can get. (Though, those are only for reviews cross-posted here and Goodreads. The ones that aren’t posted here but are on Goodreads are ‘unprofessionally’ written [aka has more bias and is written while I’m running on more emotions than neutrality] so I can definitely understand the author being upset in that case.) I know it hurts to receive negative feedback because I’ve certainly been subjected to them, and that the more effort you pour into something, the more painful the negative feedback feels.
However, when there is a ‘review’ option, it’s crucial to remember that your favourite blend of tea is not everyone’s favourite. There will always be criticism so when you’re handed a steaming cup of feedback that doesn’t look positive but is in no way a flame/troll/someone being prejudiced/discriminatory, take deep breathes. Then, slowly, gradually ingest the contents. Take your time to taste the feedback and try to see where the person who made that cup for you in good faith, is coming from. If you can’t, turn to another person and ask for their opinion on your cup of feedback. Or, look at the other cups and see if there’s anything linking them together. After all, there is always more than one person who brewed a cup of analytic feedback for you to drink. More importantly, do not throw or spit that cup of feedback back into the brewer’s face. Do not storm out or graffiti your anger (no matter how ‘subtle’ you make it) on the brewer’s house (a.k.a. their social media accounts). The brew not suiting your taste buds isn’t an excuse to be rude.
In short, when you, as an author, request reviews from the people, expect there to actually be honest and negative reviews. Expect there to be ones where every aspect of your book has been analysed and critiqued. Expect there to be reviews written from a multitude of different perspectives, and written in a variety of tones.