This post is about when you’ve read a book and just don’t like it. Maybe you’re thinking it would be better if you didn’t leave a review, or maybe you’re embarrassed or feel too bad for the author to leave one. Or maybe you think you just didn’t understand and it’s really a better book than you think. While it may be difficult to post a negative review, they’re important for several reasons.

Now, not all reviews are equal. Sometimes a reviewer just needs to vent, or sometimes it’s obvious they didn’t even read the book but have some other agenda for leaving their review. These are not the important reviews I’m talking about. I’m talking about honest reviews on books you read but didn’t enjoy.

I’m about to tell you why you should go ahead and leave that review anyway but first, let’s be clear on the rules. There are 3 rules that should be followed when leaving a review. All reviews should follow these rules, but it’s even more important when it’s negative.

  • Negative reviews should be completely honest. For instance, if you don’t usually enjoy the book’s genre, you should explain that upfront. Or if you couldn’t like the main character because they remind you of someone you hate, that’s important info for a potential reader.
  • Negative reviews should be about the story. Saying you don’t like the author is not reviewing the book. Of course, you can say their writing style didn’t suit you, but it’s even better if you just keep the author out of it.
  • Negative reviews should be specific. Just saying a book sucks doesn’t help anyone. Maybe the reasons you thought it sucked are the exact same reasons someone else would love it.
  • Negative reviews should be kind. There’s no need to be mean when leaving a negative review. Speaking with kindness allows the reader to hear what you have to say, instead of putting up defensive walls. Imagine you’re speaking to a loved one. Be respectful and phrase things nicely.

So, why is your negative review important?

1) It helps the book find the readers it was meant for.

No book is loved by everyone, and that’s ok. I wouldn’t want someone to read my book who wouldn’t enjoy it. By reviewing a book you don’t like, you can help steer away any readers who would struggle through it just like you did.

This also means that people who have different tastes than you, might try it and enjoy it.

2) It keeps the star rating realistic.

If a book isn’t very good -for instance, not edited well, no plot to speak of, etc.- but the only people who rate it give it 5 stars, that’s not truly representing the quality of the book. However, if everyone who reads it gives an honest rating, the negative reviews pull the overall score down to where it should be for that book.

3) It can give the author a needed reality check

Not all authors read their reviews, but for those who do, having some negative reviews is important. If all they’ve gotten is people telling them their book is fantastic, negative reviews my help them realize they still have learning to do. This could lead them to take their time with their next book and grow as a writer before publishing it. It also can point out specific areas they need improvement if all they’ve gotten so far is vague praise.

4) It builds trust

If you review books for a living, or even just on a regular basis, reviewing all books you read, whether you liked them or not, will help build your reputation as someone who can be trusted. Followers will know that you’re honest in your reviews because when you don’t like a story you say so.

The first time I posted a negative review I felt pretty bad. What got me to post it was the thought that I would want to know if someone didn’t like my book and why. I would also want to know before I buy a book if there’s some reason I won’t like it. I hope this post was helpful in showing you why negative reviews matter. Happy reading and reviewing. 

I was convinced by my husband to live in the Arizona desert. While skeptical at first, I realized if I could survive hitchhiking halfway cross country at 20 years old, spend eight years in the Navy, and raise two sons, as long as I had air-conditioning, I’d probably be okay.

Since my move I’ve: started a veggie garden, learned how to shoot a bow, completed three associate degrees, and become a kayak enthusiast. However, I still hate to cook and will absolutely run screaming from the room at the first sight of a bug. Because bugs are evil.

I published my debut novel, Dust on the Altar, in October of 2020. The five-year journey it took from first draft to published introduced me to a career and community I love more than I could have dreamed. My mission now is two-fold: Continue writing books I love, and grow my little corner of the indie-author community, so I can pay-forward what I’ve learned.

When writing, I’m usually supervised by an adorable Brittany Spaniel named Zen and his mini-me little sister, Pepper. 


About Dust on the Altar (A Lighter Shade of Darkness #1)

Jade loves her life in Sun City: their technology is cutting edge, she’s right-hand woman to the country’s most powerful business owner, and no one suspects she’s a Witch. But when her old coven’s High Priestess and last remaining family member is murdered, she’s expected to leave her beloved city life behind, regain the powers she abandoned years ago, and take her place as coven leader.

Going back to Sugar Hill won’t be easy. She’ll have to find a way to reconcile with her former best friend who’s the man she must now call partner, find the keys to her ascension ritual, and stop a Witch who will do anything to bring his daughter back from the dead.

With the coven’s magic fading and a whole township counting on her to bring it back, will she find the strength to face the ghosts of her tragic past, or will she run from her responsibilities, again?