DNF – Did Not Finish
DNF – The most dreaded classification a book can get by a reviewer?
I do post DNF reviews. And I have gotten some flak about them, via readers though, never from an author. This is my personal policy:
As far as the “Unethical” part of question…
I never like negative responses from authors, but I have to say, it seems to be happening a lot more lately. I believe some authors think that if they try to nudge a review to see “their side of things”, the reviewer in question might remove the negative review, or maybe change their mind. I’m only assuming, because personally I’m not an author and I’ve never had a negative review posted about my work. I do understand their perspective though as far as their work and negative reviews. It is hard to deal with, in a perfect world everyone would love everything, we would all have dogs that crapped in toilets, instead of our rugs and we would be able to maintain a perfectly healthy size six, while we gorged ourselves on mass amounts of cookie dough…but last time I checked, it wasn’t a perfect world and reviewers, like myself, we tend to like a wide range of books and have different tastes (I personally am not a fan of Steinbeck, Thoreau or Emerson — I know, matter of personal taste compared to the majority of classic readers). My advice to authors is to IGNORE negative reviews. My advice to reviewers that are contacted by Authors that don’t like their reviews. Ignore them. One big ignore fest. Yet, like in any trolling environment, some authors can get out of control, like in the case of the Wendy Darling bizarrofest [see details via Cuddlebuggery my source for all things scandalous] and you have to take things into your own hands to stop them. If said author persists, I would email them and ask them kindly to stop harassing you, this is a form of bullying and if they don’t cease and desist you will have to take it to another forum. If they do not end the communications I would block all email accounts (contact your provider or Google search ways of doing this with your mail carrier). I would also blacklist their email address from commenting on your site. This is a handy feature that Disqus and other commenting systems have. Then I would post their emails on your blog. If you do not feel your blog is big enough and will get as great a reaction I would contact bloggers that are known for calling out bad behavior (hmm I think I mentioned one particular blog that does it regularly) and have them intervene. But, you might be surprised, just by posting it on your own blog, what kind of reaction it gets. News spreads quick and at least you know, said author will probably see it on your blog if they are paying attention to what you do. But this is EXTREME cases only. Always remember negativity brings negativity.
But with this particular question, another question arises which afflicts a lot of reviewers and probably divides book reviewers into two camps of Pro DNF Reviews and Anti DNF reviews. How about we discuss it?
DNFs – To Review or Not to Review?
Pro DNF Review Points:
- It is Your Opinion
You are a reviewer. A person who states their opinion. You can form an opinion about anything, even a book that you’ve only read 30%. You can, if you feel so obligated state your opinion on why you stopped reading a particular book. You can not comment on the ending of the book, because you have not read it, but you can state your opinion on the part you DID read.
- Review Just What You Read
This was covered in the prior point, but if you review a DNF you should only review the part that you’ve read.
- Got the gist of it?
Most DNF reviewers will make sure they reach a certain point in a book before reviewing it. If they give up within 10 – 50 pages, chances are they won’t do a legitimate review of the book. Maybe make a few points on Goodreads.com, but not a drawn out review. Yet, when they reach a particular line in the sand that they just can’t cross (see above chart for mine) they feel they can legitimately review that book, having gotten the basics of the novel.
- DNFing is a Strong Statement
If the book was that BAD to warrant a slap close and hide away, there was obviously SOMETHING that wasn’t right with the book, most of the time readers would like to know what that was.
Anti DNF Review Points:
- Your Opinion is Not INFORMED
How can one properly give a competent opinion if they do not know ALL aspects of the book? A person that reviews a DNF is giving their opinion before seeing the whole picture.
- Insulting to the Author
DNFing a book and then reviewing is the ultimate insult. First you did not even take the time to finish the review and then to top it off you will review it? How low can you get?
You cross a line when you review DNFs. It isn’t fair for the author or your readers.
- Gives the wrong impression
You are misrepresenting your self as knowledgeable on the title and gives the impression that you’ve actually read the book. Let others who have read it review it.
- You don’t know how it ends, so how can you review it?
Again from the camp of you can’t review something you haven’t finished.
Bloggers – I would suggest that if you are a reviewer of DNFs to state this in your review policy. This way if you have a negative response to a DNF you can just point the author in the direction of your reviewing policy and state “Please refer to my review policy, where it states I will DNF a book…you accepted this by sending me your book etc.”
Well, I’ve stated in which camp my loyalty lies and I don’t begrudge the opposing camp, this isn’t something like Obamacare or anything BIG like that, LOL. This of course is a personal preference that we as Bloggers choose for ourselves. To call a person that reviews a book that they didn’t finish “unethical” is crossing the line though. Just like if I returned the favor and stated people that don’t review DNFs to be pandering to authors…I could understand calling out the reviewer if the blogger had written the review not having even opened a page. I’ve seen this done before, where the reviewer draws a conclusion based on not having liked the first book in the series, or the author’s online behavior (it happens) and writes a scathing review and 1 stars the book. This is unethical. But, if the reviewer has read a certain amount of the book where they feel like they can competently discuss what they disliked or liked about that certain part of the book — why is this unethical?
I’ve taken English Lit classes where we go through books chapter by chapter, class to class and form opinions and analyze the book Chapter by Chapter. You can form an opinion about a book just by reading parts of it. Much like you can judge a movie by the first ten minutes of the show. Might it at the end redeem itself. Yes. It can happen. My dog hopefully one day will learn how to use the potty. He doesn’t even have to learn how to flush. I’ll deal.
Questions for my Readers:
Where do you stand? Do you review DNFs? If you do or do not, why?
How would you handle a harassing email from an author about your review?
Happy Thursday. Talk Less. Read More. Blog with Integrity.Have a question? Fill out the form by clicking on the button to the left. This will go into a spreadsheet to be looked over at a later date and hopefully answered on this blog. This is completely anonymous, you do not have to leave your real name. Urls will not be included in your question unless it pertains to the question.
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