In the first post I covered what ARCs are, and some of the ways you can get your hands on them.
In last week's post I gave step by step tutorials for using eARC requesting platforms NetGalley and Edelweiss with some tips.
Last week I spoke about receiving review copies from publishers, and publisher/blogger interaction.
For one, they are part of the honesty and integrity that we should have as bloggers and as readers... providing only positive reviews hinders more than it helps. It prevents authors from improving their work, and fosters a society of people who can't handle constructive criticism. We already have that problem, with people feeling entitled to praise no matter what.
Really, I couldn't have put it any better myself! (It's true - I suck at putting words together to form sentences - as you can probably tell from these posts and my whole blog. Yes, English IS actually my first language...). The truth is that negative reviews are part of what we sign up for when we establish ourselves as review bloggers - a review is an opinion of a piece of work and the word opinion suggests something subjective. That's why, in my opinion, it's important to make sure you make it obvious in your review that this is your opinion. One of my pet hates is people who say "You won't like this book, don't buy it.", a much nicer way of saying that is "I personally wouldn't recommend this book". That way you're saying that you didn't enjoy it and there's a chance that other people with similar tastes to you won't either, but you're not telling people they won't enjoy it. remember, everyone has different tastes.
I also only review books where I can pick out some redeeming qualities, even if it's an E or D (1/2 star) read, I can still say that it at least showed promise, but it was seriously let down by the execution, or something. I never write a flaming review, it should at least have SOME balance. I've never read a single book where there wasn't at least one thing that was good, or at least showed potential.
What about if I didn't even manage to finish the book (DNF)?
Once again, you don't have to review the book at all and there are no set 'standards' so to speak, it's all up to you. That being said, I have a very set opinion on DNF books which is that if I choose to give up on it because I'm just not feeling like reading it, or I'm in a reading slump - that's my issue, not the books so I put it to on side to possibly read in the future. I won't review it.
I also won't write a DNF unless I've really given the book a good shot. Last week I spent four days trying to get through a book and eventually gave up 200 pages in, I wrote a DNF review for it stating that whilst the book itself was really interesting, I just couldn't handle the overly classical style of writing. As with negative reviews, it's important to mention that there are things that didn't work for you and that's why you gave up, rather than ranting about the book without actually making a point in your 'review' (the word review is in quote marks because I personally don't believe that opinionated rants with little to no actual discussion of the book really counts as a review.
The one thing that gets on my nerves is people writing real DNF reviews for a book they gave up on in the first few chapters or so pages. It may sound a little.... rude I guess... but how can you really supply a balanced opinion when you're only a few pages in? How can you comment on the characters, plot, execution and writing style if you haven't actually experienced it? There are different ways to go about it, you can either not write a review at all, or write a shorter review just mentioning that you didn't finish it, you got however far into the book and some things weren't clicking with you.
Now once again, I want to stress that this is my opinion and whilst I believe that what I'm saying is true, other bloggers may have a different opinion on the matter.
That's just my opinion though and this topic calls for a wider range of opinions so I took to twitter and asked my fellow bloggers to tell me what they though of this topic. These guys are awesome as well, so if you have time please visit their blogs and say hi!
Pili @ In Love With Handmade
"Unless I've got said book as an ARC, I usually just rate the book and give a one line review if I don't like it…"
"[If I got it as an ARC:] Then I do feel like I should review it somehow, and if I haven't finished it just state why I feel I couldn't finish it"
Manno @ Dilletante Artiste
I also had the awesome Sean Cummings tell me what he thinks of negative reviews. Sean is the author of the awesome YA paranormal series "Poltergeeks"
I just want to request that we all take a moment to savor the amount of awesome in this answer.
"If someone wants to post a negative review of my book, that's their prerogative. Book reviewing is in transition because of social media, blogging, Goodreads, etc. Most book consumers don't read blogs but they might read a review on Amazon. What I dislike are "assholish" reviews wherein the reviewer posts animated gifs to express the words they themselves cannot formulate into a proper review. I dislike abusive tags like "authors I want to stab" and "die author die" on a blog or Goodreads. If someone hates my stuff, groovy, knock yourself out and post a negative review. Shout it from the rooftops if you want. But you can't call it a review when it's a lengthy diatribe or a rant as opposed to a reasoned position. Badly written reviews abound in this day and age of social media and ultimately it all becomes white noise to me because that's basically what snark is - white noise."
That answer is spot on - reviews should be well structured and well written. Sarcastic comments are one thing, but going on an all out tirade against the author because they said something in their book that you didn't quite believe in or because their book somehow 'offended' you? Not cool. You're a reviewer, not a bully. Abusing the author isn't going to get you respect - a few people will smile at your review, but is it really going to give a fair point of view?
Let's take a moment of silence to respect Sean Cummings and this brutally honest answer that, quite honestly, everyone has been thinking!