- Reviews are not for impressing or pleasing publishers.
- Reviews are not for getting into a publisher’s “good graces” by showing them you love everything.
- Reviews are not for making authors feel good.
Reviews are about you, your thoughts, your experiences, your opinions, and how you felt while reading that book. They’re about you telling the world:
“Hey, I read this book. Here’s what I thought about it, and here’s why you may or may not feel the same and want to read it too.”
It’s not your job to make the publisher or author happy. It’s your job to tell us about how you felt while reading.
Sure, your critical review might dissuade people from reading the book, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Maybe you saved that reader 3-6 hours of reading a book they wouldn’t have liked. I’m sure they’d appreciate that.
Or maybe someone will read your critical review, think to themselves, “The things (s)he didn’t like wouldn’t actually bother me so I’ll still read the book anyway.” And guess what, that’s fine too! I’ve totally thought that before. Sometimes I deliberately read critical reviews just to check this. It can be very helpful!
Your review isn’t single-handedly going to make or break a publisher’s company or an author’s career. And unless your review is mean/racist/harassing or attacking the author personally, it probably isn’t going to get you banned from the publisher’s ARC distribution list. Publishers have said time and time again that they understand not everyone will love every book. They get it. They expect it.
Just don’t tag the author in your tweet about your critical review because that’s not cool.