Do You Share Negative Reviews on Social Media?

April 28, 2017 The Bookwyrm Wonders 21

I don’t write many truly negative reviews. Usually if a book is that bad, I don’t bother to finish it. But I do review books about which I’m on the fence, or which I finished but had serious reservations about.

It’s important to me to be honest in my reviews — fair, but honest. I try to remain as objective as I can, and make it clear about when my reaction is more subjective. I also try to be respectful of the author as a person, and avoid being snarky or mean. (No personal attacks, in other words… though I will call an author out for sloppiness of research or plotting.)

I’m not about to stop writing honest reviews, and that means some of them will continue to be negative, or ambivalent.

But should I share the negative or ambivalent reviews on social media? By which I really mean Facebook and Twitter. I do try to post all my reviews to Goodreads, and most of them to Amazon also. Anyone going to one of those sites is going to see multiple reviews, though—some positive, some negative—so my review’s impact will be buffered a bit. On my blog, OTOH, the review stands alone. And I’m not sure how I feel about drawing more attention to it, by posting links on social media.

One thing I do know: I’m not comfortable tagging the author on a negative or deeply ambivalent review… it goes along with being respectful of them as a person. I’m honest in the review, because I’m reviewing for readers, not for the author. But I don’t want to draw the author’s attention to a bad review — and not because they might go postal on me, as a few infamous authors have done to bloggers who posted less-than-stellar reviews. But because tagging them just feels too “in your face,” to much like the sort of person who can’t refrain from publicly pointing all your flaws. And I don’t want to be that unkind.

So… How do you publicize or share your reviews, positive or negative? Do you treat the positive ones differently from the negative?

ETA (5/15/2017):

Thank you all for your input! After reading everyone’s comments, I’m leaning toward a share-but-don’t-tag policy for negative/ambivalent reviews. I’ll continue tagging authors on positive reviews, both for their sake and for mine — sometimes the author shares the link to my review, and the review gets seen by some people who wouldn’t have come across it otherwise.

21 Responses to “Do You Share Negative Reviews on Social Media?”

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      That makes sense. And it’s basically what I’ve been doing, with the addition of tagging authors on positive reviews (but not negative ones.)

  1. Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook

    I share every post on social media. I don’t tag the author, but I usually have the author’s name in my tweet. I understand that it can be difficult, and I never want to be mean, but I started my blog to connect to other readers, not to necessarily help other authors. I love sharing books I’ve read by my favorite authors, but there are books I really disliked and I want to talk to people about my feelings about it.
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    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      I think that if you’re going to tweet your review, you sort of have to include the author’s name so people can decide whether they want to read the review. But including the name is different than tagging the author. I mean, your tweet and your review are going to show up if the author googles themselves and reads every post out there, but most authors don’t have time for that. Tagging them, on the other hand, says, “hey, look over here, I did a thing about you,” which isn’t very kind if the review wasn’t positive. So personally, I’d be comfortable including their name in the tweet but not tagging them, which is exactly what you’re doing.

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      That seems to be pretty much the consensus — only tag the author for positive reviews. Which means my instincts were good, I guess!

  2. Charlie

    All of my reviews are auto-posted on Twitter and my blog Facebook page. Authors are never tagged. I also cross-post to Goodreads and Amazon (usually quarterly).

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      What plugin are you using to auto-post, Charlie? That would make things easier—except that I usually schedule my posts for midnight, which may not be the best time of day to post to Twitter and Facebook.

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      That seems to be the general consensus: share, but don’t tag the author. I don’t write that many negative reviews, either, but I do write some that are middling, pointing out both the book’s strengths and its flaws. Reading everyone’s comments, I think my instinct up to now has been pretty good: tag the author for 4- and 5-star reviews, but probably don’t tag for anything under that.

  3. Bookworm

    When I read a book I don’t like, I won’t disrespect the author but I will share my thoughts on what I didn’t like about it. I rarely DNF, even if I don’t like the book, I’ll finish it and share my thoughts. If it’s a complete DNF I won’t bother reviewing it.
    Great post and interesting topic!

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      That’s basically my reviewing policy in a nutshell, except for the DNF bit. I will DNF for a number of reasons, ranging from “this book is just not interesting me enough to finish it” to “this book is gosh-awful” to “this book is really good, but it contains something that is a strong trigger for me.” If it was an ARC, I let the publisher know why I won’t be finishing or reviewing it. And I don’t review a DNF unless the reason I didn’t finish it has to do with the quality of the book (it’s gosh-awful), or content that many readers will find offensive (rape, domestic violence, or child abuse portrayed as acceptable, for instance.)

  4. Darlene

    I think it’s important to share both negative and positive reviews, as long as the negative review is done with grace and without bashing. Like you, I don’t tag the author but I do tag the publisher. I figure it’s up to them if they want to pass it along to the author!

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      I do share reviews with the publisher when I’m reviewing an ARC, regardless of whether the review is positive or negative. But I hadn’t thought of tagging the publisher when I review books I’ve borrowed or purchased. I’ll have to give that some thought.

  5. Sandy @ Somewhere Only We Know

    I rarely have reviews that are under 3 Stars. But occasionally I’ll read a book to completion and have various reasons for finishing it yet still not enjoying it. Taking issue with a particular message the book sends maybe rather than the writing or characters. Or maybe the opposite. Taking issue with a character but not the writing or message. It just depends. I do have a 1 Star book coming up. It’s one that I read quickly, but it caused me to realize that it was the exact opposite of the book I want to be reading about and I thought that caused for some interesting discussion points.

    I actually write DNF reviews when I’ve read at least 25%. I only write DNF reviews on books where I’m clear on what my issues are with the book. And I’m honest and up front about the fact that I didn’t finish the book and the ending could possibly have changed some of the issues that I had with the beginning. However, when I post these reviews on Goodreads, I don’t rate them with stars so as to not affect the overall star rating average.

    When it comes to sharing my reviews, I share all of them the same. On all of my social media accounts, but I don’t tag the authors in my good or bad reviews. I’m sure I might be missing out on some author recognition by not tagging in my good reviews as well, but honestly I just don’t have time for that. I’m with you on not wanting to draw attention to my negative reviews because I don’t want the author to feel like I’m bashing. I generally try not to be a negative person IRL. But I feel it is important to let my readers know when I haven’t enjoyed a book just as much as when I have. And like I said, sometimes I feel like my negative feelings toward a book are great discussion topics.

    Sandy @ Somewhere Only We Know
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    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      Thank you for sharing your approach, Sandy. I hadn’t considered the question of whether to rate a DNF on Goodreads or elsewhere… I haven’t rated some but I think I’ve rated others, particularly if I had strong reasons for not finishing (like really bad writing or editing.) I don’t rate or review the books I set aside because they weren’t capturing my attention at a particular moment, but I consider those “hibernating” rather than “DNF.” (I even made a separate Goodreads shelf for hibernating books, to help me remember to try them again later.)

      I agree that there are good reasons for writing negative or ambivalent reviews, and have done so. What I’m really struggling with is whether to publicize those reviews on social media. The consensus seems to be “don’t tag the author on negative reviews,” which makes sense and is more comfortable for me.

  6. Joanne

    If I love a book or have mixed feelings about it, AND feel I have something constructive to say, I blog it honestly (that’s what my blogger on books series is for). Sidenote: When I was reviewing books professionally, for a paying market, as I have done, I was honest about the good, the bad, and the ugly (and sometimes got told about myself as a result)- but I wasn’t as active on social media then so sharing and tagging didn’t come in to play. I haven’t done one of those in a while but, if I did, I’d be honest but fair, and share (but maybe not tag). I don’t typically tag the authors I blog about (but I have done so sometimes). But because my blog is my space, my time, if I really hate a book or am ambivalent about it, or just didn’t get it, I probably just won’t write about it. Me writing about it is in that sense more of a recommendation than a review, I suppose, though I do critique the books I’m recommending as well.
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    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      Like you, I am always honest about the books I review. I don’t write a lot of really negative reviews because if I’m disliking a book that much, I probably won’t finish it. If it’s truly awful, I may write a review explaining why I DNF’d it. But I do review books I’m ambivalent about, particularly if I agreed to review the book (by requesting the ARC.) And I’ll post a negative or ambivalent review on Goodreads as well as on my blog (and maybe on Amazon as well, though I dither about that.) But I’m still struggling with whether to post links to those reviews on Twitter and Facebook and so on.