Friday, September 7, 2018

Discussion: Posting Reviews on Social Media--Is There a Limit?

*Note: For the purpose of this discussion post, "social media" refers to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. I am not referring Goodreads or other review-based websites where it is obviously perfectly fine to share your reviews, good or bad.. 

There's nothing better than writing a review for a book you loved and then sharing it with everyone you can to get them excited about the book as well. Unfortunately, it's pretty inevitable that a not-so-great book will pop up and a less than stellar review will be written. The question for some bloggers and other reviewers then arises: do we share those reviews to the same extent as others? It only seems fair to treat all reviews and books the same, right? Well, that's where it gets tricky.

This is a topic that I've seen debated off and on for quite a while. No one likes to see people talking negatively or hatefully about something they put their heart and soul into. Social media is a big place, but at the same time it can feel pretty small and it's easy for one small post to make its way into the view of someone who might not want to see it. It's especially small when people tag authors or other creators in a post that doesn't have many positive things to say about said person's work. Many authors on Twitter have even spoken up about being tagged in bad reviews. Can you imagine working all day and then getting home and seeing that people specifically tagged you just to trash all the work you did all day? It would be horrible. I'm sure some people might not mind it, but as someone who is particularly sensitive, I would definitely have a problem with this. Of course, there's also an additional level--what if an author isn't even on social media? It seems they won't see it, so does that make it less intimidating or worrisome to share it?

Everyone will differ, but I personally don't typically share a review a lot on social media if I've given it three stars or less (unless there's some really good reason for doing so). I will usually only tag an author in a review if, 1) it's four-and-a-half or five stars, or 2) I'm specifically asked to share the review and tag the author no matter what. To me, it's a matter of common courtesy. Some authors don't even like being tagged in positive reviews, so there's always a fine line and I try to use my discretion on whether or not to share it. If I've seen that an author regularly shares reviews that others have written, I'm more likely to tag them in a positive review. Also, many self-published authors I've worked with don't mind at all being tagged in positive reviews because it helps get the word out (and some don't even mind if its a negative review, but I still try to avoid that). There's still the old adage that 'any publicity is good publicity,' and although I don't fully agree with that, the idea that sharing the word about an author in general is helpful because it will still lead people to that author. Even bad reviews can bring people in--I know I've read two-star reviews that hate a book because of something that I know I would love, so I pick it up anyway.

From what I've explored, it seems to boil down to this: it doesn't seem inherently wrong to post a bad review on social media in the same way as a good review, as that creates an honest environment that shows you are a sincere blogger that doesn't just post nice things to keep people happy. The red flags seem to pop up when you are tagging an author or someone involved in the creation of the book in question.

At the end of the day, I'm reviewing books because I love books and talking about books, so sharing my thoughts on them is just natural. This is the best way for me to see what others think and open up discussions about what we love or don't love about books, and it is what helps create a strong community. I'm not here to personally judge authors and make them feel bad about their work. Even if I hate a book, they still worked hard on that and the very last thing I ever want is to make someone feel bad about their work. Just to prevent misinterpretation--I'm not against honesty and I will say if I don't like a book. It's not bad to write a bad review, and in fact it's good to have a variety of opinions, but it's important to keep thing non-personal and not openly attract the author of a work to see negative opinions.  Because most reviewers feel much the same about loving books and wanting to share them, it's always a complex and interesting situation when it comes to bad reviews and how we go about sharing those. Bad reviews are often the most popular of reviews because love controversy, so should they be promoted to the same extent as a positive review?

THe purpose of this discussion is to find out what others think about this topic. Posting bad reviews on social media is something I think that's acceptable, but still possible that it could back to the author, so it's tricky. What do you think? Do you think there's any problem with promoting bad reviews on social media as long as the author isn't tagged? Should authors even be tagged at all in reviews, good or bad? Is it okay to share if an author isn't on social media? Let me know your thoughts!

More authors tweeting on the topic:


  1. I think we should feel free to share our reviews, negative or positive, on any platform we want. I would definitely tag an author if I had a glowing review, because I would want them to know how much I loved their book. I wouldn't tag them in a negative review, but at the same time, they can't expect that EVERYONE will love their work, so if somehow it got back to them, I don't know that I could feel bad about it? I know when I write negative reviews, I keep it objective, I don't bash the author.

  2. Totally agree, and great points! I think being objective is the most important thing about reviews. It's not a personal attack, and I think that's what makes it acceptable to share. I've seen a few that bash authors and it's just not cool.

  3. I think it's fine to share negative reviews, in fact my blog is set to automatically post all my blog posts to Twitter and Facebook, like many bloggers. But I would never tag the author unless the review is 4 stars or higher. And even then, I often have criticisms in four star reviews, so do I tag or not? It's tricky. I think in the end it's best not to unless you feel you aren't hurting the author. Even constructive criticism can sting. Many authors seek out reviews of their books so they're going to find them anyway. This was such a good post!