Not too long ago, I was asked why I didn’t seem to ever post a negative review here. As a matter of fact, very few of the reviews I write are negative, no matter where they appear. The reason why I don’t seem to write negative reviews is simple: it’s because I actually don’t write negative reviews.
If I think a book or a product is junk, I simply won’t write about it, in most cases. I’m certainly not going to waste space on it here and I’m not going to waste my own time on it either. I have only so many hours each day and I really have no interest in reading something that is poorly put together in any way. I receive plenty of review copies I never write about. I even buy more than a few products specifically for reviews that I wind up not writing about. That may be life, but I don’t feel a need to put less-than-great stuff in front of you.
Similarly, unless I have a very good reason, I’m not going to pitch one of the editors I write for on a review of something that their readers don’t need or want. It’s partly a matter of making sure that I land the assignment and get paid, but it’s also is due to the fact that I’d prefer to review something that I find enjoyable to write about. Finding a pleasant and new way to express that a particularly book will hopefully be remaindered soon is not a great use of my time.
There are some situations in which I will write a negative review, although they are few and far between.
- If I find a product that seems to be universally reviewed well but I find problems with, I’ll write up those problems in the form of a review.
- If an editor requests a specific review, I will do it — I do like my paychecks, after all.
- If a review, even negative, is truly relevant to what I’m writing about. This category is particularly rare and is typically limited to ‘You’re doing it wrong!’ reviews.
I don’t give positive reviews just because I know the author of the book. If I did that, I’d have to read books that family members have written, such as how to manage the serial collection at a large library — I love my family and far too many of us are writers of some sort.
I also don’t give positive reviews due to affiliate programs and other monetary considerations. While a nice steak dinner may bump a book to the top of my to-read pile, that’s as far as financial considerations will extend. I will promote (vigorously, even) products that I believe in and if they have an affiliate program, so much the better. But we have to be talking about a quality product to begin with. And any time I post an affiliate link, you’re free to use it in such a manner that I don’t get a commission, if that’s a big concern for you. I’d rather you don’t — I have hosting fees and a mortgage — but it’s not a big deal to me either way.