Wednesday, August 18, 2010

How do you handle bad books, Part Deux

So I'm sure you all saw my blog post yesterday and then saw me take it down and I had plenty of ensuing conversation with friends regarding the decision.  It's something I've thought a lot about and considered and I want to make sure you all know that I am willing to admit when I make mistakes.  I'm still learning about this whole blogging thing and trying my best to maintain my personal integrity through it.  So today let's discuss blog integrity and review policies.

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.
Can you think of anything I'm leaving out?  I do apologize if my removal of the post seems to lack the integrity I work hard to maintain.  Like I said, I'm still a newish blogger and I'm learning a lot about things as I go along.  I maintain that the right thing to do was honor what I had told the publicist, and in this case, I understand why the publicist requested that the post be removed.  Regardless of reasons, however, it won't happen again.  I love you, readers! 

Please leave me some comments letting me know about your blogging standards.  I'd love to have a great discussion on this.


  1. I don't think your decision to take the post down lacked integrity. I think it was unprofessional on the part of the publicist to ask you to take the review down. I think you handled this extremely well, better than you could have, and it is thoughtful and gracious of you to offer not to post negative reviews - no less than I would expect of you. Since the publicist claimed there were reasons aside from the review being negative that they wanted the review down, I can understand taking the review down. I think your policies as stated in this post, though, are great - review the book, not the person, and post everything.

    I also think that mentioning in your review policy (as I see you have, though I think it's a new addition) that you don't promise a good review is perfect. Most authors and publishers know that not everyone will love their book, so I really think this is a unique case. Bad reviews happen, and when the author or publisher (or publicist) gets upset about it and acts out (which does happen, but it also happens the other way - authors commenting positively even on negative reviews) it only serves to discredit the book, not the blogger.

  2. I agree with Heather. You are far nicer than I to have asked about posting negative reviews, because I would have just done it. But I think if I don't post a bad review now and then it's not realistic. People who never have anything negative to say about a book get a side eye from me because you can't possibly love every single book you read nor do most people only read books that they like, there are times when you read a book that hits you wrong and I think that as a blogger of book reviews people need to have positives and negatives.

  3. I agree that you did the right thing under the circumstances - and I think the situation is something that we all worry about. I have only posted one particularly negative review on my blog and I was blasted by someone who obviously disagreed with me strongly enough to make it personal. But I stood by the review because it was really how I felt about the book. I think you do a great job here.

  4. Whether you offered to or not, I think the publicist put you in a difficult position by asking you to take it down after you'd posted it. The thing is, I can't imagine they'd ask a national/international newspaper or magazine not to publish a negative review, so I don't think they should ask it of you either. After all, this blog is your opinion... and the fact is that some people will like a book and others won't.

    In any case, this is your blog and I don't think you need to apologise to anyone. You write quality posts and we enjoy reading them. :)

  5. Thanks for posting this. I was recently contacted by a publicist to review my first book. I did not have a stated review policy, but after reading your past couple posts, I now feel that I need to write one.

    It stinks that you were put in that position, but you handled it extremely well. Props to you!

  6. First of all, I cannot believe a publicist would actually tell you to take a bad review down. Most publicists go by the age-old rule 'All publicity is good publicity'. For books, it seems to hold out fairly well. It comes across, to me at least, as extremely unprofessional to tell you that it's fine to post it if it's bad, then to take that back later on.

    You handled yourself very well, and it's good you've taken that option out of your review policy. There will always be people - authors, publicists, readers - that don't like your review, even if a majority of people do. It's your personal opinion, and no one has a right to tell you it can't be heard through something so simple and harmless as a review. Kudos for being strong!