by Tamela Hancock Murray
Posting a negative review is not the same as trashing a book. Sometimes you really are doing a service to let prospective readers know the book in question may not be right for them. Here are a few tips:
Be sure you rarely post a negative review. If you make a habit of posting bad reviews, you’ll be known as a grump who hates everything and your words will lose their power.
Approach from a position of authority. Why should prospective readers value your opinion? Examples might be that you are the president of an historical society, a professor, or hold some other position that shows readers when you say a book contains inaccuracies, you probably know what you are talking about.
Address problems with the book itself, not your perceptions of the author’s shortcomings as a person. The author may be dead wrong, but approaching the book dispassionately will gain you more respect in the reading community than simply blasting the author.
If the review is based primarily on a difference of opinion, say so. The best negative reviews I’ve seen are those that say something such as, “Liberals will find much to appreciate in this book, though those coming from an Orthodox viewpoint will find much with which to disagree.”
Check emotions at the door. Don’t write a review because you are angry with the author or the book’s viewpoint. If you are unable to write a balanced review, it’s best to remain quiet. If the book really does deserve bad reviews, plenty of others will be happy to say so. The fate of this one book does rest on your shoulders alone.
Have you ever written a bad review? Did you regret doing so?
Do you think most one-star reviews are well deserved, or not?