Discussion Post: Do Negative Reviews Really Get “Attention?”

Discussion Post Stars

Negative reviews are a hot topic in the book blogosphere.  Every once in a while, someone somewhere gets offended, and we have a discussion about what the value of negative reviews is and whether they have a place on book blogs and review sites likes Goodreads.  Somewhere in this discussion, someone always mentions that negative reviews get all the page views and people must be writing them just for the attention.

My negative reviews never get any attention.

I don’t know if this is just because Pages Unbound isn’t big enough to tick anybody off.  I do believe we are lucky in our readers; they tend to like what we post and are polite and encouraging in their comments.  Whatever the reason, I have never had an author pick up on a negative review I’ve written, and I’ve never had a rude comment from an offended fan on one.  No one freaks out because I didn’t like such and such a book when I “should have,” so I “clearly didn’t read the book correctly.”   The comments on my negative reviews are always reasonable: readers telling me they’re sorry I didn’t like the book, calmly agreeing that they didn’t like the book, or respectfully listing the reasons they did like the book.  Then we all move on with our lives.

It’s my positive reviews that get the attention.

Every once in a while, an author picks up on a positive review I have written.  Sometimes I tweet them if I loved the book.  Sometimes I think their publishers find the reviews and forward them to the authors, if they’re particularly flattering.  (Having interned at a publishing house, I can tell you they keep records of any and all reviews of their books they find online.  I was a bit baffled and slightly embarrassed to see some of my own reviews already in their database when I arrived.)  And then those authors share my positive reviews.  Suddenly I’m getting traffic from their Twitter accounts, their Facebook pages, and their blogs.  If I were in blogging for the page hits, I would write glowing accounts of everything I read, not negative ones.

What has your experience been?  Do negative reviews get all the attention?  Or are people more attracted to positive reviews?


14 thoughts on “Discussion Post: Do Negative Reviews Really Get “Attention?”

  1. Andrea @ The Overstuffed Bookcase says:

    Sometimes it seems like my negative reviews, or my DNF reviews, get more comments than my positive ones. I never get super negative; I never bash the author and I always try to find something positive to say about the book, even if I HATED it. But it does seem to me that these reviews, and my DNF reviews, get more comments. I don’t pay a whole bunch of attention to page views for individual posts, so maybe the same number of people are reading them, just more are commenting because they agreed or disagreed with my opinion. Maybe they just have more to add to the conversation when it’s not a glowing review. But I’ve also never had an author get upset at my reviews, nor have I had any other commenters be offended or really harsh with their comments, either, so my negative/DNF reviews don’t attract that kind of attention, either. But I have had authors read (and sometimes comment) on my positive reviews!

    Perhaps people who write the really harsh negative reviews may be making their posts more harsh to draw in more page views, but I doubt many do that. It’s hard to know for sure, though, since there are people who sell ARCs and tag authors in tweets of negative reviews and things like that. I hate to believe that of the awesome book blogging community, but it happens, so I guess some bloggers may try to get more page views with their negative reviews, as well. But like I said, I doubt many do that. It’s probably a small minority.


    • Briana says:

      You may be right. If I went on a wildly insulting spree criticizing the author, the book, and any publisher who was under the delusion that they could write, that might be the type of negative review people would flock to for the drama. :p I agree that I’ve rarely seen bloggers be that unprofessional, though.


  2. Keira says:

    Authors are told repeatedly to avoid confrontation with readers over reviews. They learn to not engage on social media or on websites. In the romance community you can check big name blogs and see that authors get roasted if they engage and don’t let readers have their say and opinion. That kind of attention can be devastating to sales and careers,which isn’t to say an author or two doesn’t mess up and write in but for the most part they keep radio silence.


    • Briana says:

      You’re right. Authors seem to be getting better at ignoring negative reviews. Even if the reviewer actually is mean or making statements that are factually incorrect about the book, it’s better if the author just ignores it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. bftreviews says:

    I don’t write many negative reviews anymore because I’ve gotten better at picking out books I know I’ll like. Maybe I’m not very ambitious haha. I don’t think it’s negative reviews that get the attention but more so when the reviewer is negative or just plain mean about it. I think negative reviews are great and I love reading them along with positive ones but you should be nice either way when you’re writing one. Unfortunately, it’s all the mean reviews that tend to get either negative or positive responses.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Briana says:

      I think I’m better at finding books I like, too! My real struggle is with ARCs. I try to stick to requesting ones I’m pretty sure I’ll like, but sometimes it’s tempting to be experimental or give something I normally wouldn’t read a chance.


  4. Jade @ Bedtime Bookworm says:

    i think it’s important to have negative reviews just so other readers can understand why you didn’t like a book – they may agree with you or they might like whatever was a turn off for you. As readers we all have varied tastes! I love that you get more hits on positive reviews!! I don’t have enough negative reviews to really make a judgement for my blog. It’s kinda crazy to think my reviews might be in a database somewhere without me knowing it though! I mean, I DO post it online so anyone can see but I guess I never thought about databases like that before.


    • Briana says:

      I enjoy negative reviews, too. I think they tend to have more detail than positive reviews, which can tend toward gushing and rely on generic adjectives like “fantastic” or “captivating.”

      I was really startled to find my reviews there! I had this horrifying moment when I was like, do they actually READ these? Do they know it was me? Did I say I hate their books??? :p


  5. saraletourneau says:

    I also don’t have problems with negative reviews if they’re written in a fair, inoffensive (or unoffensive?) manner. That’s the approach that I take with my negative reviews as well; I’m honest about why it didn’t appeal to me, but never to the point that I’m bashing the author or whatnot. As for views or comments, the negative reviews seem to get the same amount of attention that the positive ones get. *shrugs* I guess it depends on your audience as well how many readers are interested in reading in the book initially?

    Btw if I do Tweet out my reviews, I only tag the authors on the positive ones. I don’t bother for the negative ones for the reasons that Keira gave earlier (except that as a blogger, I want to avoid such confrontations with the author over negative reviews).


  6. jubilare says:

    Maybe you guys don’t get jumped on because you’re not being nasty. I don’t have much experience in this, other than wandering about the ‘nets, but the negative reviews that get all the “attention” seem to be the ones that are especially snarky and or abusive. When you don’t like a book, you’re honest, but you aren’t tearing those books down in order to get attention.

    I’m all in favor of both positive and negative reviews that are being honest! But fawning praise and attention-seeking-abuse are not very helpful to people who actually want to read books. ;P

    As a side-note, too, I often “like” your reviews when they highlight a book I want to read, as it helps me keep track, but I don’t “like” a post if I’m not interested in the book, even if I like your review of it. So that’s my small contribution accounted for.😉


  7. Briana says:

    Ooh, interesting. I tend to “like” posts when I want to acknowledge I read the post and enjoyed it but don’t want to comment for whatever reason.

    I think you’re right that the really mean reviews draw attention. Especially if an author adds fuel to the flames by responding and then it becomes a whole big thing. I haven’t seen that happen recently, so either I’m reading the right blogs or book reviewers have generally learned to review the book and not the author by now.


    • jubilare says:

      I do that, too, for most kinds of posts, just not for reviews of things I want to read/watch.🙂

      One can hope! But I suspect you are also reading the right reviewers.


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