Friday, July 16, 2010

Is There a Place for Negativity in Reviews?

Karen had a post over at Karen Knows Best asking about the 'If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all' ideology. I responded there as well, but my response got rather long and slightly off the main topic, and I decided to bring the rest of it over here.

Like I said at Karen's blog, I used to be one of those people. You know, the ones that never have a bad thing to say about, well anything. It even went so far as to my jobs. I had a job once that I absolutely hated. The pay was bad, they were giving more and more responsibility without the commiserate raises and titles, and the managers micro-managed everyone to the point where I constantly felt they were looking over my shoulder. When I quit, after finally finding another position, I told my bosses that the reason I was quitting was because the other job was closer to home, better pay, and a more advanced position. These were all true, but it wasn't the whole truth. Before my last day I'd talked with plenty of friends and family about the situation they convinced me that if I didn't say anything then nothing would ever change. So when the Human Resources department called for my exit interview I told them ALL the reasons. That was the start of it for me.

I realized that sometimes the negative can be just as good and helpful as the positive. Perhaps even more so. I've tried really hard to apply that to every aspect of my life. There's a way to say negative things and still remain respectful - I don't like to 'bash' anyone. I try to just say what problems I had, whether it's with a job, or a movie, or a book.

I know how much goes into writing a novel, so if an author put in all that effort don't they deserve my honesty at least? If something didn't work for me, don't they want to know about it?

I still have a hard time writing negative reviews because I know the effort that goes into it, and that even if it didn't work for me there are often others out there that it'll work wonderfully for. But I know that I can't gloss over the things I didn't like and only say good things. Then I wouldn't be being honest.

Plus, if I'm going to take the time to do a review for other readers to look at and use to help them make a decision, I feel that I owe it to them to tell them truthfully what I thought about it and why.

I do think negative reviews have their place, and shouldn't be looked upon as bad just because they're negative. I know that negative reviews have sometimes made me buy and read the book because what they said intrigued me.

I've heard it said that any press is good press. Talking about a book is better than being ignored completely, isn't it?

What do you think?

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