Bookworm Etiquette: How To Be Awesome At Negative Reviews

Bookworm Etiquette.png

Post number three of five in my ongoing series! This is posted later in the day then is typical for me, but that’s because I…uh…thought yesterday was Monday. Despite knowing that I had been in school the day before.

Welcome to the life of the constantly sleep deprived.


Wednesday, Feb. 29th: How To Be Awesome At Book Signings

Friday, March 3rd: How To Be Awesome At Bookstagram

Wednesday, March 8th: How To be Awesome At Negative Reviews

Friday, March 10th: How To Be Awesome At Commenting

Wednesday, March 14th: How To Be Awesome At Getting Review Copy Requests/Arcs

Writing negative reviews can be difficult. Not necessarily because you can’t think of something to say- I know a lot of people, myself included, that have much more things to say when writing a negative review- but because there’s a fear of being mean.

But like all other things, negative reviews can still be polite and informational about what you didn’t like a book without being rude.


  • If you like to link to your posts on various social media accounts, DON’T TAG THE AUTHOR IF IT’S A NEGATIVE REVIEW. Yes, it may help people find things relating to that author easier, but chances are, the author’s probably going to see it. They might not click the link, but, really, you never know.
  • Also, relating to that, remember you’re reviewing the book, not the author. I don’t believe that personal feelings about the author should affect how you review the book. If you don’t think you can leave those feelings out of it, don’t review the book. It’s perfectly fine to not want to support an author! Do that by A) not buying their books, and B) telling others to not buy their books. Not by giving it a bad review. (also, sidenote, I’m more likely to ignore a bad review than I am to ignore someone pointing out an author being an awful person)
  • Keep swearing to a minimum. Trust me, if you throw in profanity every few sentences it comes across as you being kind of an asshole and less that you just really hated the book.
  • Also be careful not to insult people who liked the book, either. It’s pretty common to find negative reviews with people saying stuff like “I can’t believe so many people love this piece of trash” and “the idiots who like this book” and things like that. That’s not good. It hurts people’s feelings at best, and makes people really, really angry at the worst.
  • Don’t be afraid to bring any harmful tropes to light. If something about a specific plotline makes you uncomfortable or the characters won’t stop using slurs even though they’re supposedly “amazing people”, SPEAK UP. It might make people angry, but it also might help a lot of people, too.
  • Don’t rate a book on Goodreads before you actually read it. Remember how everyone started giving Empire of Storms one star on Goodreads a couple months before it came out? Don’t do that. Don’t rate books based on other people’s opinions; rate them based on your own.


  • If you’re worried about sounding overly mean, have someone read it over first. Most book bloggers would happily agree to quickly look over your review if you’re worried about the tone of it, because most of us feel the same way every time we write a negative review.
  • The review can be as long and detailed or as short and to the point as you want. I’ve seen plenty of reviews that were only a paragraph or two and got the point across as I have long ones that went into exact quotes. It’s your writing style.

So, blogglings, any tips about writing negative reviews?

Happy Wednesday,


12 thoughts on “Bookworm Etiquette: How To Be Awesome At Negative Reviews

  1. Ooh! I’m really loving this series! I’d like to start getting more into the book blogging community, so these are REALLY helping me out!

    I’ve only written like one or two book reviews before, and those were only for books that made me squeal like a tiny pterodactyl hatchling, so writing negative reviews is something I’m totally unfamiliar with. (Although there have been numerous times when I WANTED to write a negative review, lol!)

    I really loved this post, though! I have a feeling it’s going to help me out a ton with my new goal of being a book/writing blogger!!


    1. Thank you!
      Reviews take some practice, to be sure. Especially if you only write mini reviews or whatever- you need to condense it down into a couple of paragraphs.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. BE SPECIFIC. For example, don’t say, “The main character was lame.” Say, “The main character was shallow from beginning to end. The reader sees them interact with others in a way that shows no emotion or empathy. Even worse, the character doesn’t change in any way, making it seem like a pointless exercise.” This also helps make a clear line between it not being about the author, or even saying, “This is terrible and you should never write anything again.” You are just outlining the things you didn’t like and saying why.

    The job of the reviewer is to help others decided if THEY would like to read it or not. If someone can read a review of something I didn’t like, but see enough specificity in it that they realize, “Hey, I get why she didn’t like it but those are totally the types of things I love to read,” I have done my job.


    1. That’s a good point! You can never be too detailed. And yes, sometimes reviewers need to be reminded that they’re writing the reviews for other people, not for themselves. So often I find reviews were the person was clearly just writing a review without being specific.


  3. Ohh this post is so needed! I can’t say I haven’t been that person that didn’t write a review for a book I didn’t like, just because everyone else loved it and obese scared of being ‘mean’ and the odd one out. Now days, if there’s something in a generally good book, that I didn’t like..I do try to include it and explain it as best as I can why I didn’t like it….
    This is a really great, useful post! Thank you!


    1. I’ve done that before, too. I still haven’t written a review for Finding Audrey because I know everyone loved it, and the people that gave it bad reviews tend to get yelled at.


  4. Great post! I never tag the author unless I write a glowing review of the book, to be honest, and even then rarely. I once wrote a 2* review of a book that was an ARC by a very popular new indie publishing house. The author had obviously been searching it on Twitter and found my review, but sent a very lovely message; I was pleasantly surprised, and as a result am far more likely to give book 2 a go! It annoys me when some authors get angry about a book review being negative when it’s not the reader’s fault they didn’t like the book.

    also: there is ALWAYS something positive in every single book. Even 50 Shades got people talking about healthy sexual relationships as opposed to the unhealthy abusive one in the book! Reviews need to remember that, too. 😀


    1. I’m like that, too. Like it feels kind of like…Like I’m searching for attention from the author. If I’m doing something else that’s not a review that involves an author (such as a recipe based on a book) I’ll tag them.
      That’s a good point! I haven’t read a book that hasn’t had some good in it.

      Liked by 1 person

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