Sunday, 8 February 2015

DISCUSSION: Tagging Authors in Negative Reviews

Last year I wrote a review of Magisterium: The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black. If you've read my review you will know it was very negative. Hate is a strong word, but I genuinely hated that book... that doesn't mean I want the authors to know that, though.

I write negative reviews because this is a book review blog and if I've disliked a book, I'll let you know. Only publishing positive reviews would feel dishonest. But I write these negative reviews while desperately hoping that the authors will never see. The last thing I want to do is upset anyone, and therefore I only ever tweet a review to an author if it's positive. Who knows, it might make their day! Needless to say, I don't tweet negative reviews to the author. But sometimes this happens...

That's my review. I pretty much died of embarrassment when I noticed it would end up in the author's Twitter feed. I really hope Cassandra Clare didn't see it, because I love her other books!

My point is... sending a negative review to an author is lulling them into a false sense of security, and it's not kind or tactful. What if someone tweeted you saying, "Hey! I reviewed your blog!" and you clicked the link, only to find a post ripping your blog to shreds?

I'm all for sending positive reviews to the authors, whether they end up reading them or not, because it's always nice to sprinkle some happiness on someone's day, but negative reviews? Nope.

What do you think?

23 comments:

  1. Great post! I don't tweet negative reviews to authors either. I always write honest reviews, but I know how much it must pain an author to see a work ripped to threads, so while I want to inform my readers, the author doesn't need to know. Of course, if the author ends up seeing my critical review that is one thing. It's another to rub it in their faces!

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  2. I never '@' my review to an author on twitter if my review is 4 stars or below. I just don't want to hurt their feelings and I'd be kind of embarrassed.

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  3. Oh no! That sucks Amber. That a third party mentioned your negative review. I don't tag negative reviews to authors because I just think it's bad form. I only tag positive 4/5 and 5/5 reviews

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  4. Tagging people for negative things is not good, but making them available is necessary. That doesn't mean we have to spit in their faces though. Nice discussion post.

    Amelia @YA Bookologists (ya-bookologists.blogspot.com)

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  5. I agree! I used to do a lot of Read and Reviews for authors, and I had to give authors the link to my reviews after I finished. I always felt so guilty when I had to give the authors a link to a negative review. Granted, they were all really nice about it, but it still made me feel really bad. So I'd definitely NEVER tag an author in a negative review.

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  6. I agree that it wouldn't be kind to write a negative review and send it to an author. I wouldn't like it if someone did that to me. I've only tagged an author once but my review was a little restrained because I didn't want to hurt their feelings. It was a self published book and they did want to know what I thought of their book so that's why I tagged them.

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  7. I dont go out of my way to let an author know if i really disliked their book because as you say i wouldnt want to hurt their feelings. Its only one persons opinion after all but If i just had a few issues with the book then i would let them see it. I think they deserve honesty from their readers but not to be offended.
    Gill

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  8. Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind. There are a whole lot of people self-publishing or using vanity publishers who just shouldn't be publishing yet, since they're just not good enough. But no matter how bad a book is, I usually try to find something positive in any book I read and review.

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  9. I write my honest reviews if I dislike a book, but I will never tag an author in my tweet. It's not okay to push your negative review in their face.

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  10. LOL, what an unfortunate incident. Good for you that the Clare fan didn't go further. On the other hand, I don't get why she retweeted your review herself, since it was a negative one. She ended up being the one who went and rubbed your dislike in her beloved author's face...
    I liked your blog analogy BTW. Always being honest but polite and sympathetic - that's my motto. Authors will most likely read your negative review at some point (and who knows, they might even learn something from it!), but slapping it in their face is a no-no.

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  11. I agree, I include links to positive reviews to authors because if they even read it, I want them to know I liked it and to make that connection with them. I don't write harsh negative reviews, but I won't link an author to it, if they want to find negative reviews they can check Goodreads themselves. I know there's a chance they may read it on my blog if they find it, and that makes me slightly uncomfortable, but I can't prevent that. I think with recent cases of some authors being aggressive and publicly shaming negative reviewers, it's another reason why I won't do it, I don't want to make myself a target. R x

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  12. I've written a few negative reviews but I've NEVER tagged an author in the tweet that links to the negative review. I'd feel really bad about it and I wouldn't want to hurt their feelings. I only tag authors in my reviews that are very positive! I was SO embarrassed this one time, as I wrote a negative review and the author commented on it (they were very nice) and I'd never even tagged him in the tweet and he must've Googled reviews and clicked on mine but I felt so awkward knowing that the author had seen my review stating I didn't like his book. :/ Great post, Amber!

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  13. Oh my, never! I review all books on GR and Amazon, good or bad, but most authors have enough sense to steer clear of those places. However, Twitter is the authors' lifeline, so that is just cruel. Plus, did you cuss that blogger out for tweeting your link with an author tag?! I only review four and five star rated books on my blog, if I did have negative reviews there, I would now be paranoid!

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    1. No, it's a newspaper which I love and occasionally I write for their website, so I would never do that. The person running the Twitter account is just doing their job, even if it did make me feel awkward!

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  14. Ah, I can't believe they actually shared your review. :( I can't believe that's just okay for them to do. I don't ever tag negative reviews on Twitter and those are 1 to 2 star ratings. I do tag for three stars though, which is average. I know I'd hate for someone to tag me in something they didn't like. Good post.

    --Amber

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  15. I think tagging an author like that is a horrible and almost malicious thing to do. If I created something, I wouldn't want someone to throw negativity for my product/art in my face. That's DISGUSTING.

    I feel so horrible for you that they put you in this position. It's just baffling. What's going through their head when they're doing this? "Muahaha, the author is going to shed some tears over this one!" I mean.. WTF!?!

    That puts you in a horrible, awkward position, AND it makes the author feel bad. It's a lose-lose situation.

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    1. I know! I love the Guardian but when it comes to tweeting reviews to authors, that's a whole other story... For any author, but especially new-ish ones, seeing a tweet from the Guardian saying their book had been reviewed on the site would be really exciting, so it would be horrible for them to see it's actually a negative review.

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  16. I feel quick cautious if the author sees a negative review because I always feel quite bad about it. If it is a small scale book with an extremely negative review I try and email the publisher to say that I won't be posting a review as I feel it is a bit too negative!
    Naomi @The Perks Of Being A Bookworm

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  17. I guess I've never really thought about it. I used to tweet all my reviews at the authors, regardless of content, because I just got in the routine of mentioning the author. Now that you've brought it up, it does seem rude and just plain cruel to directly send them a negative review. Thanks for opening my eyes Amber.

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  18. I think that letting the author know if we didn't like their books is even more important than doing that with a positive review. In my opinion the whole idea behind book blogging is composed of two things; 1) Helping others to find books they might like, or might want to avoid completely & 2) Helping authors, even good authors, becoming even more good.

    That's what a negative review should do. If the author is someone grown-up enough to take a negative review (obviously not something hateful just because, but something which is criticism) for what it is, then they would find it as valuable as a positive one, if not more. So yeah, I think that not letting an author know about a negative review feel as "dishonest" as not posting negative stuff at all.

    Basically, if I was afraid that something negative could reach the author, then I think it's better just not to post it. Yet, you say: "Only publishing positive reviews would feel dishonest.", but I think that not letting the author know about it is just the same. Book bloggers should do a service for both fellow readers and authors, so why letting the former know if a book is bad and wanting the latter not to know about it?

    However, I think that the person who shared your review with the author did the worst thing they could ever do. It's your choice to either share or not your thoughts with the author, and I believe that a person doing that on your behalf, taking a decision which is yours to take, did something completely wrong and very annoying.

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    1. The thing is, book reviews aren't for authors - at least not on this blog, anyway, and I know a lot of bloggers feel the same. My reviews, at least, are for publishers and readers of my blog, and if the author wants to read the review too then that's fine, but I write reviews so people can find new books, not to help the author with their writing, because all opinions are different! I'm not exactly the best person for writing advice ;) So I send authors positive reviews to sprinkle a little happiness on their day, if they choose to read it. Authors are free to read my negative reviews of their books by stumbling across them, but I'll never send it to them directly (unless the author sent me the book themselves, but I stopped accepting requests like that ages ago.)

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  19. I know there are some bloggers who only write about the books they love because they only want to promote positivity and the books they like, and I can appreciate that. But, I'm not that kind of blogger. If I read a book I didn't like, I will still write about it. As you said, I think it makes us seem like a more genuine reviewer. But, I would be mortified if a publication like the Guardian tweeted my negative review to the author. Ugh! My purpose in book blogging is to write my feelings about books so I can connect with other book lovers, not to make a writer feel bad because I didn't like a particular book. It bums me out to think some people might be doing this.

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