Why I don't (often) leave negative reviews.

I've blogged about reviews a few times (here and here for instance) ... honestly, it's one of my most written about subjects on this blog.
I've written a lot about how authors shouldn't overthink negative reviews and how readers shouldn't be afraid to leave negative reviews ... however, if you follow me on Goodreads, you may have noticed that I don't often leave negative reviews.

There are a few reasons for this, but the biggest one is that I don't review unfinished books. The majority of books I start, I don't get past chapter two. I'm a very picky reader, and I'm not afraid to put down a book and start something more interesting if I'm not absolutely in love with what I'm reading.
If I only get to chapter two, my review isn't going to be all that useful to you. Most books have Amazon samples that allow you to get that far, so I'm not going to bother reviewing a book if I didn't get past that point ... and a lot of times what stops my reading progress is not something "wrong" with the book, but just that it didn't suit my tastes or current mood. I don't tell other people how to review, but for me personally, I'm not going to bother reviewing a book that I'm not the intended audience for.

Writing a review as a writer is a little difficult. On one hand, we're a lot more likely to notice flaws that might slip by a more casual reader. On the other, we know what goes into each book, and I think a lot of us don't want to review too harshly, simply because we know how much it can hurt.

Some writers claim that Amazon DOESN'T want writers to review books because other authors are their direct competition. Amazon directly contradicts this, however, in their review guidelines.
To quote: 2. Are authors allowed to review other authors’ books?
Yes. Authors are welcome to submit Customer Reviews, unless the reviewing author has a personal relationship with the author of the book being reviewed, or was involved in the book’s creation process (i.e. as a co-author, editor, illustrator, etc.). If so, that author isn't eligible to write a Customer Review for that book. Please review our Customer Review Guidelines for more information. 

Authors really aren't competition for other authors. Yes, you may get the occasional misguided, jealousy review from an author trying to tear down the "competition" but unless you are writing like a book a day, there's no way you can be the only author anyone ever reads. It's not like you can have a monopoly on readers, so competing "against" other authors, even within your genre, is stupid. If anything you want to partner with those writers to share each other's fans (which is probably a whole other post). 

Anyway, so I don't review unfinished books, so what does it take for me to review a book poorly?

A really cruddy ending. 

That's about the only thing that can do it for me. 
Seriously, if the book has problems but convinces me to read to the end, by default, it is probably at least a three star book.
However, if after all those problems, that three star book wraps up with a disappointing or ill-crafted ending, that's when my finger quivers over the one or two star rating.

It's happened a few times. Beatrice and Virgil went from a five to a three star simply because of the ending, for instance. 

However, since I read mostly writers I know, there is an added level of awkwardness to leaving low star reviews now. I'm more likely to tell the writer what I think in person than I am to leave a public review. 

There have been other books I've chosen not to leave a review for because, while there were things I honestly disliked about the book, I could see them being elements that other people really liked, and while I could've left an intelligent text review detailing them, it was hard for me to choose a star rating that "fit." This is especially true when I'm reading out of my usual genre. Cozy Mysteries and I have a rocky relationship. A lot of people like them, but to me they read a lot like "Nancy Drew" for adults (man, I sound snobbish to myself when I say that. Yeah, go ahead and hate me, but Cozy Mysteries just aren't my thing). 

So yes, I, personally, very rarely leave a negative review. 

This is also why I don't take review requests. I prefer to pick up books and review them on my own time, on my own terms, because 90% of them are going to be deleted off my kindle unread because of picky little writer things like "too many adjectives" (I literally stopped reading a book because "holy adjectives, Batman." I know, most readers don't think like that, but unfortunately, as a writer, I do.). 

So yeah, if you are following me on Goodreads or whatnot, you'll see very few negative reviews. This isn't because I like everything I read, though. Quite the opposite. The books that did get me past chapter two are few and far between and me reviewing at all is in itself kind of a buoyant recommendation. The books I don't finish, THOSE are the ones I think you should avoid.