Why I Don’t Like Review Groups


So my book came out in September and it only have eleven reviews so I figured I’d join a review group. I looked around and found one on Goodreads that would get me two reviews in return for me reviewing two books. I was like alright, seems legit, let’s do it.

I signed up and contacted my first author whose book I was reviewing. I started reading it and I immediately hated the book. It was awful. It was the purplest of prose and it was completely predictable. I couldn’t finish it but I still had to give a review. The rules of the group state that you have to give a three star review (or up) otherwise you have to contact the moderator of the group before posting a 2 star (or lower) review.

If I can’t finish a book because it’s not of interest to me then I won’t rate it, but if I can’t finish it because of bad writing then I feel like the readability of the book is part of what I’m rating and that I am qualified to post my opinion. I know that some people feel differently and think that you can only really rate a book if you finish it but a good ending doesn’t redeem a terrible plot and life is too short to waste it on terrible books.

I believe that that book deserved two stars. The author spent way too much time adding description to the point that some of the sentences no longer made sense. It completely distracted from the actual story and there were a lot of other minor problems I saw as well. However, I didn’t want to contact the moderator and possibly have my book removed from the review circle because someone else wrote a bad book, but I couldn’t rate it what I honestly thought it was worth.

I think that people should always rate books honestly. If people rated Kiss of The Fey with 5 stars across the board I’d think “well it’s perfect make my next book just like it” even if they thought it needed improvement but weren’t willing to tell me. In reality, I think Kiss of The Fey probably ranks around 3.5-4.2. A good story, but not amazing. (I’m not saying don’t buy it, only that my next book will be even better!) Without releasing a second edition and rewriting the whole thing I can’t improve it, but having read the three star reviews I know how I should go forward with my next novels to make them a 4.0 & up.

I didn’t want to rate the book dishonestly, but I didn’t think I should have to justify my opinion. In the end, I gave it three stars. I don’t feel good about it, but I know that going forward I can’t participate in these kinds of swaps again. I won’t take the review down after the group is done because that wouldn’t be fair to the author, but I will be putting it on my “would not recommend” list on Goodreads.

Just so that you know, I will always be honest with you guys and I will never post a book review to this blog that I don’t fully believe. I may lie about my affinity for chickens, there’s no telling there, but in the case of this book review group I had no way of knowing that this would happen and can only prevent it from happening again in the future.

10 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Like Review Groups

  1. I run a small review group to help me get through the vast quantity of review requests. If its obvious that the person who wants to join is an author, I actually say in a “polite” way that they can be either a reviewer or an author offering a book for at least 6 months before they can be both. This is to avoid the murky waters of review swaps.
    Many authors come to me thinking they should offer to be a reviewer out of thanks for having their book on my list for free and getting free reviews from it, but it doesn’t work, mostly they aren’t really interested in reviewing, they might do a couple of books then find they are too busy with their own writing.
    I have a small voluntary group who genuinely read and review the books on our list. If a review will be below 3*, the reviewer politely refuses to review, some will give the author feedback as to why they couldn’t review. I won’t lie, I’m often the middle man who has to tell the author we have a refusal to review and it’s not a great e-mail. If I’m going to go below 3* on my own review list I do an appraisal of the book or how far I got, this goes two ways either the author listens and we have a discussion and there can be a positive result which they take forward, or I get a mix of a one line of thanks, an argument (because it doesn’t fit with the 5*’s they’ve had) or I never hear from that author again, which is rude as I’ve spent several hours on their behalf, but sadly it’s how some people will always treat others.
    I hope you get on better elsewhere with your book, it can be trial and error.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Yeah, the group I joined was authors only all promoting their own books, so maybe that’s where I went wrong. I would never be rude to a reviewer if they didn’t like my book unless they were rude to me (ie, this book sucks and you suck). Everyone likes different books!


  2. Charlotte, good for you. I am a reviewer for Rosie’s blog, above, having done my six months as an author only! I think the rating I give most often is 3.5, I think; I’ve given a few 3* too. There was only one I felt I couldn’t even give 3 to (it wasn’t a story, it was a book full of sentences recording a series of events), so I asked Rosie to reject it for me.

    I have written a blog post about authors reviewing authors; I know that a lot of people complain when others post links on their blog posts, but I genuinely think this post will interest you, and it’s easier than me writing a hellishly long comment! The comments might all be of interest, too. In the meantime, why not submit your book to Rosie’s review team?

    Here it is:

    (Also on that blog I’ve written another post, a bit more recently, called In Praise of Book Bloggers, that gives some links to other book blogs you could submit to)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. ps, I wrote that blog post before I became a reviewer for Rosie; at the time I only submitted books. Oh, and I agree with what you said about you being entitled to review a badly written book with a 2* rating, by the way. Lastly, apologies for the errors in the comment above, I’m in a bit of a rush!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m not sure I’d join a group that dictates a certain rating in order to post. I can understand moderating the first few reviews by new members (so as to curtail the potential abusers), but to dictate a lower threshold for rating? You can’t really trust the reviews coming from a group like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve thought about joining a review group too, as it can be so difficult to get reviews unless the book is selling very well already. But there are pitfalls of course, as you identify. Specifying a minimum rating is wrong – for me, reviewers must always be completely free to be honest, for many and obvious reasons. Unfortunately though, even then I suspect some will feel pressure to post positive rather than negative reviews.

    Liked by 1 person

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