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Thursday, June 14, 2012

What? You didn't care for my honest review?




I was going to post a review today but an email (she received an email from an author that she was afraid to open because of a negative review she posted on HER blog)  I received from a fellow book blogger made my wheels start turning in my brain and I just felt the need to write about something that has been bothering me for a while......author's who don't like what you posted about their book!

I normally tend to stay far, far, away from controversial goings on in the bloggersphere. I don't like to judge other bloggers and wouldn't want them judging me. There are hundreds of book bloggers and we are so diverse that I feel there is room for everyone and every review style. Many are very in-depth and really like to dig into the meat of the books, while others are short, sweet, and to the point. But the one thing that we all have in common is that author's, agents, and/or publisher's contact us to review books. Most bloggers do NOT get paid for their reviews, but I do know that ALL of us invest a lot of time reading the books and then writing reviews for our blogs. What the author gets in return is an honest assessment from the most important person out there....THE READER! Most of us blog because of our love for the written word and to tell our friends about an amazing book that they MUST read. We also look out for each other, because our time is PRECIOUS (do you hear that?? it is PRECIOUS TOO!!) and with our honest reviews a fellow reader might avoid a real time sucker that doesn't pay off in the end.

I have only had one terrible experience with an author. She contacted me...I did NOT contact her. The book was sent, I read it and for the only time in my blogging career, I was late with the review. My dog, Bruce had just died and I could not do anything. Needless to say, she wasn't too pleased that the review didn't go up on time. So she sent me an email. I responded telling her what had happened but also informing her that my review would not be a recommendation. She then asked me NOT to post my review but to instead just highlight her book...WTF?????????????????????? At that point I didn't care, I just wanted her off my back, so I did what she asked of me. But when I responded to comments, I told all of my readers that her book read like a bad Lifetime Movie! A few days later I was looking at her reviews on Goodreads and a light bulb went on in my head. She had almost all 4 or 5 stars for every review. Hmmmmm.......now I'm not a rocket scientist but it didn't take me too long to add 2+2= unfair average review rating and misleading content to the Goodreads audience. That whole experience left a dirty taste in my mouth and with a BAD ATTITUDE towards certain review copies.

Here are my HARD LIMITS (ha! had to sneak some Fifty Shades of Grey references in here!!) on what I will or will NOT say on MY blog!
  • No matter what...I will be honest! 
  • If I pick your book up from the library or my personal book shelves and hate it, I will write what I please. Most of the time, even if I hate it, I'm pretty decent.....most of the time.
  • If I'm sent a book for review and I don't like it, I will be nice about it.Do not expect anything more
  • It's my blog, not yours.
  • If you're not sure about me, then don't bother initiating contact. Trust me, I will survive.
  • Don't even think about sending me a chastising email.....you might not like what I send back in return.
So in closing, the real purpose of this post is to put down in writing my philosophy about review requests and expectations. It may sound as if I have a bit of a grudge against authors. That is the furthest from the truth. I have issues with expectations from some authors, not all. There are many people that are NOT their true selves on the internet. That isn't the case with me. I am true to myself, my fellow book bloggers, publishers, and authors. I will never compromise my core beliefs and my integrity by posting a positive review of a book that I did not like.


36 comments:

  1. I can notice those fake reviews on GR at once, and some are so easy. Those with a 4.80 average, oh please.

    And she was not cool. I have luckily escaped the wrath or just nonchalance from authors so far. But once with a review the author did ask me to instead of a 4 make it a 5 on Amazon. it was a guest review and she admitted to have been nicer than usual and that it was not really a 4. He hounded me for days, so many emails. I fear we have all gone through it one way or another :/

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    1. Isn't it sad that some feel that they have to right to intimidate or bully a reader into changing their rating???

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  2. I love your blog and I love your honesty. And whether you post a good review or a bad review doesn't necessarily affect my decision on what to read but it's more like sharing thoughts over coffee (albeit around 1000 miles across the table from one another!) and I think authors need to be secure enough to recognize that. But if over time I come to realize that our tastes are similar in some or all categories of books, I *am* going to make some decisions based on your reactions, and authors have to deal with that too, because it's no different than telling a friend about a restaurant or a movie you know they will like based on what you know about them, AND knowing that other friends will NOT like that restaurant or movie. It's ridiculous for an author to assume that every single person will have the same taste, AND that people are such sheep that they won't make their own decisions but base every decision solely on what someone else says. I know our political views aren't necessarily the same but I love to hear your thoughts anyway and appreciate hearing them and I do think about them and take them into consideration, and it's the same with books, although in that category I DO share much of your tastes. But that still doesn't mean I automatically will go for, or rule out, a book you have talked about. I read a lot of different reviews AND sometimes (well, a lot of times) I forget stuff, AND sometimes I can't find all my little slips of paper that I write recommendations on, etc. Some authors are just too insecure for the book business, it seems to me!

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    1. What you said is exactly true..it may or may not affect whether someone else picks up the book. But authors who are insecure and want to stack the deck need to do something else. It is like talking over coffee and comparing notes and such!!I forget a lot of stuff too, but the last few books I picked up from the library were because of my friend's recommendations!!

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  3. I appreciate your honest and respectful (whether you liked a book or not) reviews, Staci. I wonder if the author that asked you not to post your review is new to working with book bloggers?

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    1. I'm not sure if she was or not, Mary. However, she was very adamant that I NOT post a negative review. I just checked my rating on Goodreads and I gave it a 2 with no review.

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  4. I wish all authors understood how readers really use book reviews. A vaguely positive review will almost never convince me to read a book (unless I already had my eye on it) but I've bought a ton of books from honest reviews where the reviewer had a problem with something that I knew either wouldn't bother me or would be something I would love. Why are authors scared of the honest reviews? Those are the ones that sell books.

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    1. Oh, Lenore!! You said exactly what I tried to say!!! Vaguely positive or always positive reviews are never convincing to me either!!! I have checked out certain books just because someone hated it and wanted to see what I thought!! How is that not a good thing in the end..right?

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    2. When I am interested in a book, I skip the 4 or 5 star reviews. Yes, glowing reviews are nice but I want to know the flaws.

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  5. I appreciate the honest reviews. Your negative reviews are always respectful so authors shouldn't have a problem with them.

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    1. I do try to be respectful...I did post one last week that was caustic though!

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  6. Bravo! I know I can always trust your reviews.

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  7. Rhapsody Jill and I were just talking about this very topic. I reviewed a book today that I was not a fan of, yet SO MANY bloggers gave it 4-5 stars on GR! How can that be? I picked it apart, looked at the positive side and still couldn't muster up more than one star for it.

    I know these days, publicists are beginning to steer clear of us that post both negatives and positives but I refuse to be a puppet. I post what I feel. So be it.

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    1. They can steer clear of us by not sending us free copies of their books but they can't keep us from buying them, borrowing them from a friend of picking them up at the library!

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  8. Here's how I cheat - if I really, really, don't like a book, I don't post a review. This does NOT, however, mean that books I don't review are all books I don't like. The time factor is always a problem.

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  9. I agree. Your posts are so thoughtful and polite even if you did dislike the book. I say keep on with what you are doing. Authors even bloggers have to accept that not everyone is going to like what we write but once we write it and release it, it's out of our hands.

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  10. Bravo, Staci! I couldn't agree more with your philosophy of writing a blog with honesty and integrity.....whether your reaction to the book was positive or negative, your followers come to YOUR blog to read YOUR thoughts and insights, not some canned response. If an author can't accept criticism of their work, perhaps they are in the wrong business.....it's inevitable that some people will like the book and others not so much. Even the "big guns" in the industry take regular hits by bad reviews and they know it goes with the territory. BOTTOM LINE: You have the right to express your thoughts on your own blog.....if an author wants to censor what goes on his/her own blog, then fine......but our blogs are a forum for our own reading experiences, and that's what makes visiting book blogs so fascinating! One of my favorite quotes is, "No two people read the same book."

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  11. Totally true....reviews must reflect our honest reaction to the books we read.

    Anyone who has been around for awhile (like some of us...lol) know that not everyone likes the same books. Sharing your thoughts about a book is all that anyone can expect.

    Even my friends (in real life) often don't like the books I read...and vice versa.

    Too bad that some people want to "stack the deck."

    I have a "virtual" author friend who routinely sends e-mails asking me to vote or comment on something she wrote (and I know she sends these out to lots of people). It's annoying! But sometimes I do it, just because she is requesting it in a friendly way. But it still bugs me.

    That's her way of stacking the deck.

    Thanks for the great post.

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  12. I could not agree with what you have said more. Bloggers who only review 4star and up books are doing their readers a disservice by not passing on their honest thoughts and skewing the numbers.

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  13. Love your list of personal blog rules! Luckily I haven't really had any negative interaction with authors. The most I've gotten from authors when posting a review was an occasional "that's not what I was going for but it's interesting that you saw it that way" type comment which I totally didn't mind. :)

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  14. I absolutely adore you and your blog for your clear, honest, and fair reviews. I totally agree with everything you've said, and whilst a negative review wouldn't stop me reading a book, since our reading tastes are similar, I trust and respect your thoughts and like you said "our time is precious"

    Negative reviews are not personal attacks on an author, 'certain' authors need lessons in etiquette or a lesser sense of their own importance ;)

    I once said I'd rather watch grass grow or paint dry than read another word of a particular author's book. LOL but then again, I'm the type of reviewer that can give a book 5 stars while still admitting the book has technical flaws, it's about how the book made me feel! and that's what my friends want to know.

    I love that when I eventually come visit you, the Staci I'll be finally catching up with will be the Staci I've come to know and love on Life in the Thumb.

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  15. I feel like shouting out "amen sister." I'd much rather read honest reviews and make up own my mind whether it's a book I want to read or not. And I'd probably never review or read another book again of an author who tried to tell me what to say about their book.

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  16. Positive or negative, your reviews are always thoughtful and informative. I applaud this post! When compared to most bloggers, I accept very few books for review and have limited interaction with authors. Think I'll keep it that way...

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  17. Amen Staci! Good for you!! I always appreciate your honest opinions!!!!

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  18. Standing up and clapping!!!!

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  19. I've been lucky not to have that kind of reaction from an author, but I did have one poet react to a review I wrote and did not like my interpretation. She asked me to change my review, and I complied by eliminating a couple of words (inconsequential to the overall recommendation) but that was not satisfactory and she commented on my blog with her concerns. I just left it alone after that.

    I figure if it was that important to the poet to clarify something about her collection, that was her right, but I wasn't going to delete the crux of my review because she did not agree with the interpretation.

    Anyway, this is all to say that its better to stay true to yourself and your integrity than to bend over backwards for an author who clearly cannot take honest criticism from a reader. I would have posted my true feelings about the book and rating on GoodReads anyway! That's for readers...not authors!

    OK, so I've said my two cents and I say bravo for this post.

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  20. First of all, I LOVE the quote at the end.
    I am so far off the radar that rarely, rarely does anyone contact me. And if they do, it is because they know I like their books. I have had only wonderful experiences with writers, probably because of this.
    I'm really quite stunned that this goes on.

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  21. This is one reason I would rather work with a publicist because after a while they know your tastes and if you do review a book that is not too appealing, the publicist doesn't usually get into a flap over it.

    I recently read a book I loved and went to GR to see the reviews. It amazed me to see several people thought the book was dreck. So, who knows, it's all a matter of taste anyway. A negative review does not stop me from trying a book if I like the synopsis.

    Bloggers that write how the book truly affected them, like you, are bloggers I trust.

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  22. I am both a book blogger and an author. I totally agree that reviewers are allowed to say what they truly feel about a book, and I certainly respect bloggers who know how to do this respectfully. As an author I would NEVER comment on a negative review because it would show immaturity on my part. After all, when an author puts his book out there, he SHOULD expect criticism. That's the way the world turns. As a matter of fact, negative reviews can even boost an author's credibility because as you mentioned, it's easy to tell when fake reviews are posted. I love reading bloggers reviews because it helps me make a decision whether or not to buy the book. I always look at both the positive and negative reviews to get a balanced view of the book.

    It's important for authors and the book industry to respect what we do as book bloggers. It's a lot of work (meeting tour dates, writing reviews, creating eye-catching posts, maintaining our blog, etc. to juggle with everything else we do. Good for you for standing up to writing honest reviews! It's the way it should be.

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  23. You said it, sister! Authors should know that there are a lot of us that will steer clear of a book that is getting nothing but rave reviews because even if we love the bloggers, we have to wonder how any book can be that universally loved. I am much more likely to read a book that has a better balance of reviews so honesty in bloggers can really help books. The great thing about having so many bloggers is that you can get a lot of opinions; one negative review is not going to make or break a book.

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  24. So sorry you had to deal with an author like that!! Your reviews are always honest and fair, and I respect that. What I don't respect is an author who thinks he/she deserves only glowing reviews. When you put your book out there, you have to have a thick skin and take the good with the bad. Love your philosophy...it's my blog, not yours. Well said!!

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  25. Thank you, Staci! You said what so many of us feel. Once I did receive a book and hated it. I contacted the publicist and offered to not review it and she told me that the author welcomed all reviews, good or bad. Loved that about him. Since then I rarely accept books and never seek them out. Reading my own books lets me say whatever I want with not second guessing involved.

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  26. Not sure how I missed this post, I'll blame it on my busy work schedule. I have only had two authors who got a little defensive with me. One took issue with a comment left by someone else, the other commented back about how many awards he has won and how great everyone else seems to like his books.

    My worst experience though was with a publisher who left a rather lengthy defense of the book and defended himself or having published it, talking about all the money he put into it.

    In all three cases, I sent them emails explaining my position and that I was sorry if anything was taken the wrong way, none of them emailed me back.

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  27. I loved this post! It is never easy to write a negative review or a review for a book that I have so/so feelings on. But I think it is important to include those reviews to allow for your readers to get to know your likes and dislikes. I think that readers will trust your opinions more this way :) And I'm like you...I always try to include something nice to counteract the negative :)

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  28. Sorry that happened to you. I believe negative reviews can be more inticing to some people. Sorta like the bad boy image or you tell someone they can't have something so they end up wanting it more. The whole reverse psychology move. I know negative reviews on certain sites affect whether an author's book will come up on a general search, but that doesn't mean bloggers can't and shouldn't be honest. For books, I believe any publicity is good publicity. A book can't be read, if nobody knows it exists!

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