The Worst Feeling in the Book Blogging World

The Worst Feeling in the Book Blogging World

I love almost everything about the book blogging world. I love meeting new friends, meeting new authors, chatting on Twitter and Facebook, learning about amazing new books, and more! The list is practically endless. But every now and then, there is something I absolutely hate about blogging. There is one thing in particular that gives me the worst feeling…

I hate it when I befriend an amazing, sweet, funny author, and then I don’t like their book.

It crushes my soul, you guys. It is the most overwhelmingly devastating feeling EVER. This horror can manifest in many different scenarios:

Nice authors from a distance

Sometimes, I just see an author who looks really sweet, but I don’t really speak to him/her. Then I read their book, and I don’t like it. I hate that feeling, but it’s not too bad because at least I didn’t personally communicate with the author—I just saw them from a distance. It sucks, but I get over it pretty quickly.

Authors who request a review

Then there are the times that an author personally contacts me for a review, I read their book, and I don’t like it. I always DREAD writing that e-mail back to them that informs them of how I wasn’t a fan of the book.

For me, this is a whole different ballpark than getting books for review from publishers. If it’s from a publisher, I don’t feel as bad saying I don’t like the book, because I’m not talking to the person who wrote the book. But when I have to confront the person who poured their heart and soul into that piece of writing, it makes me want to run away and hide and never check my e-mail again so I don’t have to see their response.

The Twitter-stalking authors

Surprised Twitter Bird

There are times when I meet an author on Twitter. We chat, we have fun, I decide that they’re super sweet and friendly and hilarious! And I can’t wait to read their book! I begin reading and it starts out okay and I post a few thoughts on my Goodreads updates. Those Goodreads updates get sent to Twitter and the authors often see them and reply back (“Yay I can’t wait to see what you think!” “I hope you like it!”). But as the book goes on, I decide that I really, really don’t like it. Suddenly I don’t want to update my progress on Goodreads anymore because I know the author will see it. I feel horrible and I don’t want him/her to know that I’m no longer enjoying it! I just want to disappear from the world!

This happened to me with Prophecy by Ellen Oh. I tweeted that I got the book and tagged her. She replied. I tweeted that I was starting the book and tagged her. She replied. I tweeted @EpicReads when I was about 20 pages in. Ellen replied. At the time, I was LOVING my communication with her! I was excited because she was excited that I was reading it! But then I ended up not liking the book at all… I stopped posting comments on my status updates because I felt like she would probably see it and I couldn’t stand the thought of her reaction.

Authors who acknowledge my negative reviews

Please just don't look at me!
Please, just don’t look at me!

This one is the worst. THE WORST! It breaks my heart and claws at my insides. Several times it has literally had me running into bed and sticking my head under the pillows in a pathetic attempt to hide.

Sometimes I write a negative review of a book and post it on Goodreads, my blog, Amazon, etc. A few times, I have had authors I’ve never talked to before acknowledge these negative reviews (usually via Twitter). So far, all the authors have been INCREDIBLY cool and sweet about it. Here’s an example:

Ashley (booknook) ?@booknookblog
3 of 5 stars to The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

Alexandra Bracken ?@alexbracken
@booknookblog Thank you for such a thoughtful review!

Okay 3 stars isn’t bad, but I was pretty critical in my review. Alexandra was SO NICE and really seemed to appreciate what I had to say. But I still couldn’t stop myself from blushing with embarrassment that SHE SAW IT!!! She saw my somewhat psychotic rant in my review. Suddenly I got all nervous and fidgety… “Did I hurt her feelings?” “Was I rude??” “Oh my god I hope she doesn’t hate me!!!”

Let’s face it.. Alexandra gave me no reason to even think those things. She was really sweet. BUT I STILL CAN’T HELP BUT FREAK OUT!

Or here’s an even worse one:

Ashley (booknook) ?@booknookblog
Review: Just for Now by Abbi Glines – I feel like the only one who didn’t love this!… via @booknookblog

Abbi Glines ?@AbbiGlines
@booknookblog trust me… you’re not πŸ˜‰

Ashley (booknook) ?@booknookblog
@AbbiGlines Ahh I’m kind of embarrassed that you saw that LOL! Thanks for being cool about it! I might read more books in the series though!

Abbi Glines ?@AbbiGlines
@booknookblog LOL! Don’t be! Everyone has an opinion. I’m good with that πŸ™‚

This was a two star review and I really kind of ripped the book to shreds. Once again, as you can see, Abbi Glines was SO NICE! Therefore, there’s no reason I should really be embarrassed or want to go stick my head in the sand and never emerge. But I can’t help it. When I got that initial tweet I just got a sickening feeling in my stomach. My eyes went all wide like O_O and I suddenly felt like I had to turn off my monitor because WHAT IF SHE COULD SEE ME!!!

So, am I crazy? Or does anyone else feel this way too?

I know we can’t all love every book. We have different tastes, different preferences, and different opinions. What one person may love, another person may hate. But that doesn’t stop me from feeling heartbroken and distressed when I don’t love an author’s book. If I were an author, I would probably get a bit depressed when my book got bad reviews. So when authors acknowledge my negative reviews of their books, I feel bad! I feel TERRIBLE! I feel like I need to drop off the face of the world until enough time passes that they’ve forgotten all about me.

Maybe I’m a little over dramatic, and maybe one day it will get easier. But for now, it feels like there’s no worse feeling anywhere in the book blogging world!

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  1. I’m new to book blogging, but not new to reviewing – but part of that world is that now authors seem to “see” my reviews more. I recently wrote a review and gave a book 3/5 stars and criticized parts of the book I didn’t like – and a couple hours later the author commented on my blog! I ended up going back and changing my review (slightly) to not sound so harsh because she was very nice. And that was just a random book I’d picked up from the library, not one I’d been asked to review! The things above are what I’m terrified of having happen now that I’m blogging…when I just reviewed on Goodreads, my reviews were mixed in with everyone else’s, and I don’t think authors took too much notice.

    1. Gosh I know exactly what you mean! When an author sees my review I always have all kinds of doubts about whether or not I was too harsh, or too critical, or too mean. I still want to express how I felt about the book, but I don’t want to hurt the author’s feelings!

  2. I totally know what you mean!! Fortunately this hasn’t happened to me TOO many times, but I always feel terrible when an author has asked me to review their book and then I really don’t like it as much as I’d hoped – and they’re always so nice too! I haven’t had anyone who’s been rude about it so that’s good, but I always feel so terrible! I’ve been a bit pickier on which books I accept now because there have been a couple in the past that even before reading I wasn’t sure I would like but the author was so nice that I said yes – And I realized that’s not fair to the author or the book. I don’t think I was the intended audience so it really didn’t stand a fair chance. I’ve had to turn down a couple extremely nice authors (another thing I feel bad about!) but really, it’s better in the long run.
    Great post! It’s a great thing to talk about. You’re not alone!

  3. I saw that Abbi Glines comment and I thought it was so cool that she was so cool about it. I think authors have to expect that some people might hate their books and if they get insulted over every negative comment, they are in the wrong profession.
    My solution for this is DNF. I hate wasting my time reading books I don’t like because there are so many books I am dying to read, so if it doesn’t captivate me, I stop reading. If I get far enough I will give a short DNF review but most likely I won’t.
    I agree, this does make me feel like a horrible person too.
    Great post!

  4. I enjoyed reading this post and the comments as well. I am a soon to be published author and wanted to ask what reviewers prefer – a nice comment like the above authors did, or no comment at all? I have been told it’s not a good idea to comment on bad reviews, but is making a nice comment better so you know they appreciated your time? Or would you prefer no comment from the author? Thanks for the insights!

    1. Hi Kimmy!

      In my opinion, if the review is 2 stars or less, it’s probably better to not comment at all. If it’s 3 stars, then I’d leave it up to you. I mean, I personally can still feel awkward if an author comments on any review of mine that’s less than 4 stars, but I do think it’s really cool when authors show that they still appreciate critical reviews!

  5. You are absolutely not the only one who feels this way! I feel this way too sometimes. It’s happened twice while I reviewed for book tours so far and I always dread posting my review. They’ve been 3/3.5 star reviews, like you Darkest Minds review, but still I feel bad I can’t give them a higher rating. The one thing I always try to do is give specific examples of what brought down the score for me. I feel like you do this in your reviews too. Nothing wrong with some thoughtful and precise constructive criticism! Great post:)

  6. Haha you’re a little spastic but in a really cute, considerate kind of way. The same thing happened to me (sorta…) when I was reading When Copper Suns Fall by KaSonndra Leigh. I would update my reading progress on Goodreads and it would generate a tweet on Twitter. And she totally responded to every single one.

    Luckily I liked it (even though one or two of my tweets didn really reflect that haha). Actually, we are kinda friendly now. So it’s cool. But I can just imagine that if all those tweets were about how much I hated the book and the author had still gotten a hold of them, I’d prolly choke a little bit at first. Some authors are REALLY bad at taking criticism or even general negativity towards their books. I’ve also been contacted personally by some authors whose books I’ve shelved as “to-read” and they’re all like “I hope you enjoy!” and I’m just like… “I’m a really critical asshole. >_> I hope I enjoy too.” Haha.

    So, no, you’re not the only one who goes through this. And it is kind of a shitty feeling. But you can’t be afraid to say what you feel about a book just because of who might see it. At that point, I think it would defeat the core purpose of why we review in the first placeβ€”to air out our honest thoughts on a book, right? Or is it just me?

    Sierra recently posted: Writing: Hobby vs. Identity
    1. Yep I totally know what you mean Sierra. It is a shitty feeling but we can’t let that feeling change the things we say about a book. We can still be respectful but it’s still important to express our true feelings. Otherwise, as you said, what’s the point of reviewing? We’re supposed to share our thoughts and opinions. There is definitely a way to do that while still being respectful, but we shouldn’t rate books higher than we would normally just because we feel bad.

  7. I just saw this pop up and I had to comment because the very fact that you posted this makes me want to hug you! You may not like a book and you may give it a negative review, but trust me when i say that your reviews have been fairminded and without any meanness in them whatsoever! And you should not feel bad at all for not liking a book and posting your opinion. Everyone has different tastes but what I value in reviews is when a reviewer doesn’t like a book and they don’t go and trash the book but instead they say – this probably wasn’t for me and lists out why – I respect that! I respect a negative review that can state what didn’t work for them without any snark or meanness. I think you are a great book reviewer! You go on and keep up the good work and don’t feel bad about it! Well, ok – since you are clearly a lovely person, you will probably feel bad about it. Now I don’t know if this will make you feel any better but I promise you this, after reading some really horrendous reviews, reading yours actually made me feel so much better. Because I respected your review. ;o)

    1. Aww thanks so much Ellen!! I really do appreciate your comment. πŸ™‚ I think it’s awesome that you stopped by and I’m so glad to hear that you’re okay with my review! I really did feel bad writing it. *hugs*

      1. Don’t feel bad at all! I respect your reviews and I hope you keep doing what you are doing! I think negative critical reviews are just a important as good critical ones! And you aren’t snarky at all. You are very professional. That’s why you are a good reviewer. So don’t feel bad at all! ;o)

  8. It’s like you’ve gone into my brain and accessed my thoughts because YES, I’ve had these thoughts and experienced this myself and it is AWFUL. The worst. It’s got to be the biggest downfall of blogging; falling in love with the author and then not enjoying their book – ESPECIALLY if it’s an author your pretty close with and chat/connect with often.

    I GET it. You won’t and can’t like every single book you read but…when it’s an author you know – whether you’re tight or chat from time to time or swoon from afar – it is hard. There’s not much you can do though. The only thing you can do is to write your review, always being honest, yet going about it in a respectful manner. There’s a HUGE difference between saying you weren’t a fan and explaing why (there’s NOTHING wrong with this) to dissing it and going to town with GIF’s and snarky, mean comments and bashing the book and author (so distasteful). I’ve seen both in action and though I don’t mind a bit of snark, I feel bad for the authors who are subject to ones full of awfulness and mean things. As long as you go about it in the right way, that’s all an author could ask for.

    So, I kinda ADORE this post. With a passion. I’m so glad to hear I’m not the only one who feels like this! BEST. DISCUSSION. EVER.

  9. This is why I don’t review if I don’t like them. Unless I’ve gotten them for review specifically.

    Though, I do find, if I am friends with the author, there are ways around the feeling bad. Like, I’ll write an honest review and say I don’t like the book, but I will definitely mention the things I did like (where as if I didn’t know the author at all, I might not depending on how much I disliked the book) and I definitely will not tag them when I tweet about the review.

    That just seems like kind of a slap in the face.

    Reviews aside, I’m generally upset when I don’t like a book by an author that I’m friendly with because I genuinely want them to do well and be successful. Not that a book being good or bad is always a measure of success but you know what I mean.

    Caitlin recently posted: Opal by Jennifer L. Armentrout
  10. I felt a lot of these things when I first started posting my reviews. I still get a little anxious when I post a negative review for a book from an author who is pretty active on Twitter, in case they see it, but I just remind myself that I try my best to be fair by explaining what didn’t work and why it didn’t work for me.

    The worst is when you have to email an author to let them know your 1-star review of their work just went live…

    Kelly recently posted: Exciting News & Big Changes!
  11. I agree with this so much. When authors are so friendly and you end up not liking the book, I do feel like sometimes I would prefer not to post my review. However, it’s really great to see the mature reactions of some of the authors, which makes me, as a blogger, feel a bit better about it.

  12. Ash, I am struggling with this problem right now!! I feel the same way as you about authors that I have tweeted to or who now follow our twitter. And I know a lot of authors either a. don’t read reviews at all or b. don’t read negative reviews but you never know if they will end up reading yours.

    I guess the main thing is that we don’t write negative reviews for kicks or to be mean but still, I dislike having to do it.

  13. I’m going to write my comment from a writer’s point of view rather than a book bloggers right now. I feel like whenever an author / writer puts their work out there they know that they’re giving it out to the judging eye of the public. They know that people have a variety of opinions and that, when there’s a wide enough audience, there are bound to be people who don’t like the book.

    Whenever my books are critiqued harshly, sure it stings! (the thing you spent months/years laboring over isn’t met with the endless amount of love that you into it) but underneath it all the criticism was golden for me. It gave me tough skin. The situations you described above have happened to me before and yes, I do feel a little awkward and embarrassed when an author reads a review of their book that I didn’t like. But because I know how they feel it makes me look at the situation from another POV and it’s not so awkward anymore. Those same authors have probably read books before that they didn’t like much either. It happens. Don’t feel bad, Ashley! Lol, as long as you explain why you don’t like a book in your review rather than giving no reason at all, you’re fine. πŸ™‚

    P.S Honestly, I think when authors go to comment on negative reviews to give thanks that they are just glad that that person read their work. There’s something really awesome about knowing that somebody read the entire novel whether they enjoyed it or not.

    Ezmirelda @ Parafantasy recently posted: January Clear Your Shelf Giveaway Hop
    1. I love your comment Ezmirelda! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. πŸ™‚ I think I just really need to get over my whole awkwarndess/embarrassment issues LOL!

  14. Oh man, I agree with you completely, and I’ve been wanting to do a post on it, but hadn’t gotten up the strength to venture out into potentially dangerous territory.

    I’m seriously considering not accepting any review requests from authors for that reason, unless we’ve worked together before, etc.

    Yeah, I’ve learned not to ever @ the author as I’m reading their book, at least until I’m convinced I will like it. Also, I had that same experience with that same book, and the author unfollowed me and blah. From now on, I’m going to avoid following authors whose books I haven’t read. I really hate that I have to do that, though.

    Meh, I don’t mind if authors respond as long as they’re cool about it. There is an initial EEK factor though.

    Christina (A Reader of Fictions) recently posted: Review: Out of the Easy
  15. I feel this way ALL. THE. TIME. That’s why, when I am friends with an author and am about to start their book, I don’t tweet that I’m starting it because then they’d know I’m reading it and will most likely be on the lookout if I like it – hell, I know I would if I were in their situation! Luckily, most of the 2013 books I’ve read by authors who I’m friends with have been AWESOME, so I haven’t felt that feeling in a while.

    But when I do feel it.. Oh god it’s awful.

    Blythe Harris recently posted: Waiting on Wednesday (January 9)
  16. That is one of the many strange and awkward aspects of the strange, symbiotic relationship between book bloggers and authors. I think it used to be easier because the few book critics there were did their critiquing in newspapers and only a handful of books actually were publicly critiqued. It was easy to avoid the newspaper critic… but online we run into one another everywhere! We all love books! And writing! And sparkles! So, yeah. It can get awkward:)

  17. Ah! I know what you mean! I just got sent a book and though I love the story line it is so hard to finish because it has so much profanity. Every other word is f-this, f-that or sh$&. Ah! I just can’t seem to read more than a few pages, but the Amir (a guy) is super nice! I feel so bad bc I’m either going to have to just deal and finish… Painfully. Or not and just tell him I couldn’t finish it. Any advice?

  18. Great post! Because I write, as well as blog and review, I am really sensitive to writers’ feelings. I have reviewed some twitter friends’ books that had glowing reviews from others, but I found difficult to get through. I just play up the positive and don’t mention the negative. It makes me a shitty reviewer to hold back, but I don’t have the heart to bash friends. Books from publishers or that I bought with my own $$$$- no problem- but for the most part, I just try not to read books that I think might suck. Who has time for reading books you can’t stand?

    Henry Circle recently posted: First Frost Tour and Guest Post
  19. I totally agree with you. When I have an author following me and we have been chatting on Twitter and then I start reading the book, I get so nervous that if I don’t like it I will hurt their feelings and I worry about updating my twitter feed with the review. Fortunately, there are so many great authors out there who understand that not everyone will like their book and are cool about it but it doens’t make it any easier. I have been reviewing books on Amazon for years but I just started book blogging recently and it brings out this anxiety a lot more. Great post!

  20. Yes!

    I recently read a short book (errotica) and oh boy the book was terrible. I was honest in my review but I made sure not to bash the author. I posted my review on my blog,Goodreads & Amazon and the author tweeted me on Twitter and said “Thanks for giving it a read” I felt terrible even though I know I shouldn’t have.She was so sweet and generous about the negative review.

    Alexia recently posted: Mental Illness depicted in books
  21. I think it all boils down to how a reviewer reviews if they should feel bad or not. If words are chosen carefully, thoughtfully and judiciously, there’s nothing to be embarrassed or feel bad about. And only you know how your review is intended, just like only an author knows how it makes them feel when they receive it. πŸ™‚

    Michelle Pickett, author PODs

  22. Okay so initially when I started the book blogging thing I wasn’t at all shy/anxious whatsoever about tweeting authors my review of their book. Then I read the first book of Eve Carter’s erotic trilogy, Deceived:Part One-New York and it was terrible. I tweeted her my review and she replied “Thank you for your review. I am glad you gave this book a shot” I swear to you Ashley I have never felt crappier. It would have been easier if she was rude about it. But she wasn’t. She was so sweet about it.

    After that experience I stopped tweeting authors unless I absolutely loved their book.

    Alexia @ Adventures in Reading recently posted: Review: Asher's Fault by Elizabeth Wheeler
    1. I completely agree! It would be easier if the authors got rude. But when they’re nice, it just makes me want to hide even more and makes me feel even worse about not liking the book!

  23. That’s basically how I feel!! You got it! I seriously don’t like emailing the author who requested a review too when I did not like their book πŸ™ I’m like “uhhh uhhh *panics* how am I going to tell the author that I rated her/his book 2 stars? D:” haha I hid myself under my pillow too one time! I love how the authors are chill with your review πŸ™‚ I love authors who are like that! Great post, I’m sure lots of us could relate.

    Little Book Star

    Leigh @ Little Book Star recently posted: For Pleasure or Not? {Discuss #2}
  24. Great post!! I am the same way, I always feel SO bad when I have to review a book I didn’t love. I know that authors work very hard & put their heart and soul into these books.
    One of the most important things I have learned is always comment & critique the book not the author! A tastefully done negative review is possible but saying negative things about the author personally is just harsh…
    I am glad to hear I am not the only one who struggles with this… I just try to remind myself that everyone has different tastes & I review for other books lovers and I want to be honest for them!!!
    Have a great day (:

    Elizabeth recently posted: Swoon Thursday
  25. This is one of my greatest fears and why I don’t usually chat with any author on twitter unless I’ve already read their book and loved it. There are a few authors I haven’t done this for though. Thankfully, I was right about loving Not a Drop to Drink but I’m so afraid I won’t like Stitching Snow or Incarnate, even though I’m pretty sure I will like their books. You just never know.

    I haven’t had anyone respond to my negative reviews yet though. But, then again, I haven’t written that many and I’m not as well known as you are. The books I requested to review (from the author) are the worst though. I haven’t had the best of luck with some of them and I hated having to tell them. I actually was so pathetic two years ago that I don’t think I even notified one author. I put up the review (because that was the deal) but I don’t think I ever gave him a link to it. I think I only gave the novella one or two stars.

    Yeah, not the best book moment I’ve ever had….

    Stephaine B recently posted: Irony Fey Read-Along Sign Ups
  26. Writing negative reviews is tough. I love the tweets on how Abbi and Alexandra handled it though. It’s great to see authors taking negative reviews well after all of the talk about how they don’t

    Tiffany (About To Read) recently posted: Fireblood

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