Do Or Don’t? Negative Reviews

I’m looking for legitimate feedback here, mostly because I want to understand other people’s thought process behind this. I have seen several people in the indie community expressly complaining about getting negative reviews on their work. I’ve seen traditionally published authors saying that it is a major no-no to tag an author in a negative review. I have even seen a book blogger or two mention the issue of whether or not to write those negative reviews. What are your thoughts on negative reviews?

I’ve always been for them because I feel like it is honest and, no matter the product, but books in particular, other people should have access to those honest opinions to be able to make a fully informed decision on if they want to buy/read something. As with everything, I feel like there are certain stipulations around that, though. I think it is an asshole move to leave inaccurate or malicious feedback just to be a jerk and because you can and that isn’t what I’m talking about here.

As an artist and a creative, it has always been my opinion that the second you do anything where another person can experience it, you’ve opened the door for criticism. Whether or not that criticism is justified falls into a gray area until you deliberately make that creation available to the public. At that point, as the creator, you have to accept the fact that people are going to feel the need to state those opinions. When you expect people to spend money on your creation, you absolutely are opening that door to criticism and, at least in my opinion, you do not get any kind of say in what that criticism is (again, the above exception being deliberately malicious or hateful). It is kind of like an unspoken social contract that criticism comes with the territory and it won’t always be something you like to hear.

I am truly curious as to why some people don’t agree with this concept. I want to understand the other side of this coin because, at the moment, I only see it as people only want to hear that they are awesome no matter if they are or aren’t. If I were to pick up a book with lots of 4 and 5 star ratings only to find it full of errors and plot holes and horrible characters, I would be pretty ticked off as a reader. I have never hesitated to write a negative review on a book if I felt it was necessary and, at least on Goodreads, those seem to be my most liked and commented on. Especially if it was contrary to many of the other reviews available.

Sometimes, even a negative review for one person can actually be what interests someone else because different people have different tastes and opinions. Some people adore steamy scenes, others want a steam free book, or issues with cussing or drugs or mental health issues. Some people may not want to read a book with a certain theme, but another will have that same theme at the top of the “must read” list. A negative review can bring some of those things to light and actually draw in new readers. A 1 or a 2 star review may not actually be a bad thing. Getting lots of those in an area may even alert an author to a genre placement issue or some other issue that got missed before publishing.

As far as tagging an author on social media platforms in negative reviews… that one may be a little different. Just because I don’t have a problem with people leaving negative reviews, as an author, I don’t know that I’d want those reviews shoved under my nose on a constant basis. Just because they are written, doesn’t mean I’m required to read them. Tagging an author kind of forces that issue and takes the choice away from them. I can only imagine how exponentially huge this could be, especially for a traditionally published author or anyone with a really huge following. It has always been my policy here to try not to link back to an author’s website in a review if it is particularly bad, but part of that is a lack of desire to promote an author if I didn’t like their work. I will link to the Goodreads page for the book, though.

Where do you stand on negative reviews and tagging authors and why?