Negative Reviews and Five Minute Books

Negative Reviews and Five Minute Books

Good morning, Rebels, and welcome back to my life!

So today I want to talk about Five Minute Books, my book review show I do on my YouTube channel. You might have seen it before, if not, you can click on that link above which will take you to the whole playlist. You can peruse for a review that piques your interest.

The way the show works is, one week I read Amazon’s number one bestselling fiction book and review it. The next week, I choose an independent title and review it. The astute among you who have been watching the show will have noticed that I post a majority of five-star reviews, especially on indie books. The only sub-five-star reviews I’ve posted have been of bestsellers—and two of them were pretty negative.

So, what, am I judging bestsellers more harshly than indie books because I’m an indie artist? Am I taking kickbacks or getting paid to promote the books of other authors?

The answers to those questions are “no” and “definitely not.”

So perhaps I don’t negatively review other indie artists because it invites backlash and because we’re all in this together, and without encouragement indie authors will curl up and die?I mean, Shen Hart from (a great book review blog, by the way) gets a LOT of flak from independent authors in our mutual communities because she’s not afraid to negatively review books.

I think this is incorrect. I think that hearing a thoughtful, well-crafted review of what’s wrong with your books is one of the best things that can happen to an indie author. After all, that’s what critique groups are like. And I’ve already talked about how important critique groups are to a budding artist. And if you didn’t sufficiently submit your work for critique before publishing it…well, you kind of deserve whatever criticism you get. And better late than never.

If the review also happens to contain biting wit, and that comes across as snarky, well, reviewers want to be entertaining, too. It’s how they get people to read their reviews in the first place.

Now, all that being said—I don’t negatively review independent books.

Okay, so by now I sound like I’m going back and forth on this subject, but stick with me a little longer.

The reason I don’t negatively review books is because my reading time is EXTREMELY precious to me, and when books are submitted to me for review, I can usually tell within about thirty seconds whether I’m going to like it or not. If I think I’m not going to like a book, I won’t read it. Not because I’m afraid to write negative reviews and invite backlash, but because I DO NOT READ TO HELP YOU FIGURE WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOUR BOOK.

Unless you’re paying me to edit it. In which case, hold on to your butts because I am not gentle.

Shen and her review partner, Michael Keenan, are providing an INCREDIBLY valuable service to writers. And sometimes they get harassed for it. And to be honest, though I know it’s selfish of me, I’m simply not willing to invest that much time in bad books written by others.

What IS the point of Five Minute Books, then?

On the bestseller side, my goal is to let you know whether these monolithic titles are worth the hype their publishers are putting into them. On the independent side, I want to find and highlight REALLY AWESOME independent books that I think you’ll totally love.

And on a more broad level, I want to cultivate an audience of readers for Five Minute Books. And I want those readers to have the same general tastes in books that I do. If you’re like me, if you like the same kinds of books I like, then I hope to be an avenue for YOU to discover great new books, whether they’re indie or traditionally published.

Because there are a lot of good books out there. We’ll never have time to read them all. I just want to help you read more of them.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve been enjoying Five Minute Books and if there’s anything more you want to see from the show or the channel in general.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the YouTube channel if you haven’t already, and I’ll see you soon. Byyye.

Garrett Robinson

Over 100,000 readers have read and loved Garrett's books, like the fantasy hits Nightblade and Midrealm. He's also a film festival favorite with movies like Unsaid, and a tech guru who posts lots of helpful how-tos for writers and filmmakers over at


I've been really enjoying the show. I agree with you, I'll never finish a book if I'm not enjoying it. So most of my reviews are positive too.

I understand your reasoning for not reviewing books negatively. I wonder if it's a service you could offer, though. Like "The Rip Your Book to Shreds" show, or something. I don't know if people would volunteer to do that in public, though :)

If negative reviews focus on something I can improve, I've no problem with them. In fact, I've even written long thank yous to negative reviewers over on my blog when they've pointed out something I can fix. However, I'm in the minority, I think. A lot of indie writers can be a bit precious and defensive.

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