No Such Thing as a Bad Review

No Such Thing as a Bad Review

Let’s face it. No one likes criticism. Well, at least the destructive kind which hurts to read and possibly leads to scars or setbacks. But we also can agree that constructive criticism is useful. While there’s positives and negatives to all feedback, the “bad reviews” of books are largely of the latter.

Now I’m not saying that bad reviews are all bad, but many hit below the kneecaps.

It seems the Internet is a safe place for weaponizing words. I’ve read reviews on books that are borderline personal or laced with a mild vendetta. Which begs the question—why? But I digress. Back to the socially acceptable bad reviews. What purpose do they serve? Does it warn others away from a wasted purchase or is it simply an opportunity to even the playing field? I’m not trying to be naive, just honestly curious.

I’ve been a book reviewer for years. As a contributing editor for a magazine and other periodicals, like School Library Journal where I reviewed books for all youth and teen genres for eight plus years. Have I ever read a book that I thought wasn’t very good? Sure, I have. I still find one or two that leave me wondering how it made it to print.

But I also know opinions are subjective.

So, in my former professional reviewing world, I would occasionally have the “constructive comment” but always tried to slide it into a compliment sandwich. This wasn’t difficult, as most books I read had great or stellar attributes. Many were all around outstanding. But I was honest, not wanting to hand out a gold star to everyone just because it felt right. If there was something odd, or missed, I’d kindly point it out, all the while keeping the audience in mind. My goal was to educate and inform them on my opinion. No bad reviews. Just a constructive and fair assessment. Or so I hoped.

Stepping back a moment, let’s consider what it takes to write and publish a book.

Uh, hello? A heck of a lot. I am in awe of all who contribute their ideas and stories to the world. Yet in the last decade or so, I’ve noticed an increasing amount of derisive commentary and cutting language in reviews.  So, I go back to my original question—why be so nasty? Readers of this blog, I hope you respond and educate me. I just don’t get it.

Anyway, much of the impetus for me creating Books Uplift is that I wanted to provide a happy place for books. No bad reviews. Now that doesn’t mean I don’t sprinkle in an honest observation or two when I struggle with a book plot, or character’s believability, or the author’s head hopping, or whatever. But I find way more gifts and positive attributes in these wonderful books than lack thereof.

I won’t give a bad review. If I don’t like the book, it’s ranting or intentionally acerbic, I just can’t get into it, or it is poorly written (that can happen to all of us), I simply don’t review it. Period. This doesn’t mean if your book doesn’t get reviewed on Books Uplift that it’s me saving you from a bad review. Not at all. It either wasn’t a fit or I didn’t get to it yet.

If you want to go down that path, there’s plenty of negativity out there. Book reviews, remarks on social media, negative news, you name it. But not here.

When it comes to Books Uplift, there’s no such thing as a bad review.

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