Should You Contact the Author Before Posting a DNF Review?

Recently, a self-published author sent me a copy of her newest book because she thought it “fit the focus of my blog.” I agreed to read/review the book without reading the synopsis carefully. The book really isn’t my type of novel, but I gave it a shot anyway. I’m three-fourths through it, and it’s actually causing me stress to try to finish it. Should I post the DNF review anyway? Should I contact the author first?

Hiya!

First, think about what your general policy is for reviewing DNF books. If this was just a book you purchased and you didn’t finish it, would you normally post a review? If the answer is no, then I suggest you do contact the author and ask them what they’d prefer.

However, if you normally do post DNF reviews, that’s a slightly different story. I personally think you’re under no obligation to contact the author first. They asked for a review, and a review is what they’re going to get, even if it is a DNF one. However, I know a lot of bloggers that do email the author first asking if they want a DNF review or not. So that’s perfectly fine too!

If it were me, here’s what I would do:

Regardless of the author’s preferences, I would post a short DNF review on Goodreads. Under other circumstances, I ALWAYS post DNF reviews on Goodreads, mostly because I like to keep notes to myself about why I did not finish a book. Then, I would probably ask the author whether or not they want me to post that same review on my blog. I would leave that option up to them.

Your turn! Do you usually contact an author before posting a DNF review of their book?

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I'm a 28 year old California girl living in England (I fell in love with a Brit!). My three great passions are: books, coding, and fitness. more »

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26 comments

  1. I don’t usually do DNF reviews so what I do is the moment I realize that the book’s heading down the DNF path I mail the author and let them know that the book’s just not for me. Trust me, most of them are pretty nice about it. I usually give them option of doing a guest post/interview/giveaway to help showcase their book. But I also let my readers know why I didn’t like it and what kind of group the book’s for.

    Nuzaifa @ Say It with Books recently posted: Interview: Dracian Legacy - Priya Kanaparti
  2. I use to always leave it up to the author, even when it was books under 3 stars but I changed my policy a year ago because that was a pain in the butt and I wanted to be able to tell people why a book I read wasn’t great. However, for DNFs, I will give the option to the author for posting a review on my blog, but I will always post the review on Goodreads.

    1. Yeah that’s basically what I do. I only post DNF reviews on my blog if I actually feel like I have something substantial to say about it.

  3. I don’t think I’ve really DNFed a book intentionally. Sometimes I’ll just loose interest, but I’ll pick it up months later. I don’t know if I would post a DNF review on my blog, even, unless I had a lot to write about. Even then, I like your process–posting to goodreads, and asking if the author wants that review put on the blog. It sounds fair to me. You’re not going to love every book, and authors should know that once their book is published it belongs to the readers.

    Cassie recently posted: Discussion: Love Triangles
  4. I wouldn`t review a DNF. I don`t mind if bloggers do it. But I really dislike when they give a starred rating on goodreads when they did not finish the book. IF they want to say why they stopped reading that is fine.

    In this specific case the author specifically contacted you. So to me that is different. I feel like you should definitely contact them first and ask if they want a DNF review or not.

    1. Yeah I’m in two minds about star ratings.

      I think if you DNF a book very early on because you realize it’s “not for me” or “I’m just not in the mood” then you shouldn’t rate it. But if you have to DNF a book because it’s just so terribly awful (objectively, rather than “it’s not for me“) then I think it’s fine to give it a star rating.

  5. I write DNF reviews without concern about where the book came from. In a case where I didn’t like a book I got for review, I usually don’t send the author anything, or Twitter tag them either. I just put it out there for them to find if they want. I only contact authors with my review post date if I rated the book 3 or more stars. But I post it regardless of the rating.

  6. Hmm I’ve never really thought about contacting the author, but usually when I DNF a book I’ll post a short little thing on Goodreads, but if I read more than half of the book, I’ll write a full DNF review on my blog. Usually I don’t give it a rating, but other times if I skim to the end and still think it isn’t worth reading, I give it a rating and treat it like a book I finished. I don’t know, my system’s really weird, but it’s my system and I kind of love it 😀 Lol thanks for sharing, Ashley! <33

    Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain recently posted: Feminist Sunday (7): Abortion
  7. I do not contact the author. My general policy is to post the DNF review on my blog, but not on Goodreads. I write reviews for librarians and educators, so the DNF reviews are really important. Sometimes they are important because I’m letting my colleagues know that I would not spend my (very limited) budget on an item. Sometimes they are important because I want to highlight the target market/educational use for the book, even if I didn’t finish it. I’ve actually had many people comment on DNF reviews that they will be purchasing or buying the book, so I’ve never had any author or publisher complaints because those reviews are still getting the book’s name out there!

    Tara @ The Librarian Who Doesn't Say Shhh! recently posted: DNF Reviews and My ARC Woes
  8. I never really thought about asking the author/publisher. To me, if I couldn’t finish it I give an honest opinion with an undertone of “it might work better for you”. If it was a review request, I let them know I wasn’t able to finish it, and it usually isn’t because there was something wrong with the novel per se. I just couldn’t finish.

  9. If I don’t finish a book then I don’t post a review and if I am not at least liking a book then I don’t finish it. When they’re book I’ve just bought for myself I’ve never contacted an author but if it’s a submission or arc then I always contact them and let them know why I didn’t like it. I haven’t had a lot of submissions because I just haven’t had time lately but I did have one that was really bad and it took me two days to finally email this author. I actually felt so bad but they took it much better than I expected. I wish I could have loved their book but I just didn’t.

    This might be wrong but I just don’t do reviews if I didn’t like the book. Mainly because I don’t finish them. I just don’t have the time or will to spend reading books I don’t like. Although every once in a while I’ll enjoy a book then it’ll just do a 360 on me and I’m like NOOoooo! But even then it usually gets a good enough review from me. It would have to do something really bad to make me finish it and give it a 1 star review.

    Jamie Pinson recently posted: Does anyone else remember this one?
  10. It is much more awkward for reviewers to deal with an author directly, but I do like to support indie authors, so I try to make it work.

    I explain my review policy up front when I accept the request. I treat all books the same, and a DNF is a possibility for any book — traditionally published or indie. Sometimes a book just isn’t for me…

    Jen @ YA Romantics

    Jen @ YA Romantics recently posted: Mini-Reviews: Salvage and The Ring and The Crown
  11. I usually write DNF reviews because there is a reason I stopped reading a book after all, and I think that reason is valid. Of course, there are books I stop just because I lack interest in the subject matter and I try to make the distinction, between a book I stopped because I didn’t like and a book I had no interest in, very clear. I usually post to both Goodreads and my blog. If I’m being asked to review a book, then I feel an obligation to review at all costs. For self-pubs I try to be extremely clear about what didn’t work for me so authors can maybe see the review as constructive feedback about why their book didn’t work for a particular reader. Still, I always post DNF reviews.

    P.E. @The Sirenic Codex recently posted: Spotlight - Outlander
    1. Me too! I always disagree when people say:

      “It’s not fair to review a book you haven’t finished.”

      If you take one bite out of a meal and it’s DISGUSTING so you spit it out and don’t finish, don’t you think it’s worth telling people that? Of course!

      How is that any different from reviewing a book you didn’t finish because it was so bad?

      Like you, sometimes I don’t finish a book because I’m not really in the right mood for it… if that’s the case, then I don’t blame the book. I just accept that it’s not the right fit for me at this time. In that case, I usually don’t review it on my blog.

      But if I stop reading a book because it’s REALLY bad or I can’t stand it, then I think that’s worth sharing with people.

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