Yesterday I gave a book a bad review. In the past when I've not liked a book I was sent for review, I gave the sender (publicist, author, publisher, etc) the option of my not posting at all as opposed to posting a negative review. This is not to say that I don't give negative reviews, I've just tried to give authors and publishers the chance not to get a review if they sent the book to me on my request. I gave this option to the publisher yesterday and the post was ok'd.
I don't feel that my post was unnecessarily harsh or inappropriate. When I review a book, I review the book not the author. I don't comment on an author's abilities as a parent, employee, person, etc. I comment on the book and the author's ability to write well. What I wrote described what I felt were flaws in the writing and had nothing personal to say about the writer. However, the publicist later let me know about some issues that surrounding the publication and asked me to remove the blog.
Since I had offered earlier to not post, I decided the right thing to do would be to comply with the publicist and take the post down. Here's the part where I tell you how I think I messed up. I shouldn't offer to not post a negative review, even if the book was sent to me by request. I don't like to be mean, and I don't like to hurt people's feelings. But offering not to publish a review at all if I didn't enjoy the book can damage the integrity of my blog in the long run. The purpose of my blog is to tell my friends honestly what I think about books I read, regardless of where they come from.
Please know that my thought behind not posting negative reviews at an author's request wasn't motivated by anything other a desire to be kind and courteous. So, if you haven't had enough of them already, here are some of my other thoughts on book reviews and integrity:
- I still believe that the professional and courteous thing to do is to finish books that are sent to me for review by my request. Should I be unable to finish a book, I will not review it. This rarely ever happens, as I finish almost everything I start. In fact, this was the first time in almost a year that I have put a book down without finishing. But if it does, I will not review the book at all.
- I will place my blog's integrity and my integrity as a reviewer over my desire to be liked and make people happy. I will stick to my original review policy, which is that books will be reviewed honestly.
- I will continue to respect authors and review books based solely on their content and not on the author's personality, home life, or personal choices.
Please leave me some comments letting me know about your blogging standards. I'd love to have a great discussion on this.