Opinion

Should you edit ratings and reviews of books after they’ve been published?

Hi everyone! I’ve got a new topic that I’d like to discuss with you today and that is editing ratings and reviews of books after they’ve been published on your blog/Goodreads/etc.

Should you edit your rating and_or review of books after publishing them?

Short answer: Yes!
Long answer to when you should change it:
It doesn’t reflect your current opinion

In my opinion, if you want to change your rating or review you should. If you feel like the review and_or rating doesn’t accurately reflect how you feel about the book, then change it.

You didn’t realise that there was problematic representation and_or content in it

No one is an expert in finding problematic representation for the vast amount of marginalised identities that we have in the world. Nor is anyone able to pick up on every single type of problematic content: e.g. romanticisation of  toxic relationships; forced coming out.

I might not realise that a book has problematic content in it. I am also certainly not an expert in discerning if representation is problematic, especially when I don’t belong to that marginalisation. Sometimes, I’ll think that a book has good representation and then I’ll come across some #ownvoices reviews, where they discuss how harmful/stereotypical/wrong/bad the representation is. This isn’t something that only happens when I don’t belong to the marginalisation with the problematic representation. Sometimes, I might have internalised -isms and don’t realise that the representation has issues until another member of the same marginalised community tells me about it.

This situation directly affects the above situation because problematic representation and content always influences my opinion of a book.

You thought that the representation or content was problematic but it wasn’t

Sometimes you might be certain that a certain representation or content is very problematic. I find this is most likely to happen when someone is reviewing a marginalisation or content as a non-#ownvoices reviewer. I try to stick with finding reviews by #ownvoices reviewers and linking to them, but this is not always possible, especially with ARCs. In that case, #ownvoices reviews may be published after your post and you might realise that what you thought was problematic representation, wasn’t actually problematic.

You didn’t include all the content warnings

I am more likely to include content warnings for content that I would like to be warned about because I am also more likely to realise that this content is in the book. However, there are certain types of content that I forget to include because I didn’t realise they were potential triggers while reading. If I come across these warnings on other reviews, I’ll update my post to include them.

But what if you don’t want people to be angry that the review and_or rating changed after they read it?

In the case of your opinion of the book changing, I feel like that’s your choice if you want to edit the review and rating. I decide to edit it because I don’t want people coming up to me and telling me that a book that I recommended was awful (or vice versa). I want them to know how I really feel about the book. Of course, sometimes, your opinion might change and your readers have already bought the book, but that is a risk we all have as book bloggers.

However,  in the case of unproblematic/problematic representation and content warnings, I feel like it is my responsibility as a book blogger to let readers know about them. If you find out that a book has these issues or actually didn’t, you should add them to your review and if you use a rating system adjust the rating.

How should you make it clear that you have edited your review and_or rating?

Now this is just my way of editing the post. You can use a totally different method. You can just change it without making it clear to the reader that you used to have a different opinion, which is what I did right at the beginning of my blogging experience, because I was still unsure the way how I was blogging.

I use a different font colour for the new text and insert the phrase “Update:” before that text passage. I also strike through the parts of the review that I don’t agree with anymore. In the case, of me being wrong about problematic representation and_or content, I would explain what made me uncomfortable in my update text. I also write an explanation if I’m changing the star rating, and state what rating I had given the book before the update. I don’t make it clear that I’m adding new content warnings though, since that is part of my ongoing process of maintaining my book blog.

I also use the Add to my update feed function on Goodreads, and Twitter to inform my followers that I have edited reviews. I will also start mentioning the reviews with updates in my future monthly wrap-up posts. I didn’t do this before but I will do so from now on!

I also make sure that I update the changed review and_or rating on every platform on which I’ve cross-posted it.


Tl;dr:

In my opinion, we bloggers owe it to our audience that we inform them of changes in our opinion, problematic/non-problematic content and content warnings. Readers might be influenced by these aspects of a book and if we find out that our review and rating doesn’t fit to reality, they might end up buying books we wouldn’t recommend or not buying books that we would recommend.


I’d love to hear what you think about this topic? Do you agree with me? Do you think bloggers should change their reviews and ratings after they’ve published the post? Do you change your review and_or rating? If you do, do you signal that you have done so to future readers?

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39 thoughts on “Should you edit ratings and reviews of books after they’ve been published?

  1. Good post! I’ve never changed a review or rating on my blog, simply because I haven’t yet changed my mind on any of the books I’ve reviewed so far. However, I’ve changed a lot of my Goodreads ratings for books I read a long time ago, because looking back now I just like them less.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, I like that your post mentions problematic content as the main reason for changing a review. I’m sure I will still learn a lot in the future and go back to edit my reviews as well. x

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  2. Great post ! I started doing this a few months ago as well, I write Update at the top of the review in red and add whatever I wanna add although i’ve never thought of striking things that no longer stand which is a great idea. I’ll probably start doing that as well

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is something I have been thinking a lot about lately because I have been wanting to change a few reviews/ratings myself, which I think I’ll do soon. I usually change the whole review/rating and update that to goodreads/blog 🙂

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  4. I agree with your point of view. Reviews are made by humans and we have all the right to change our minds or make honest mistakes. I would probably like the blogger more if I see a review has been updated as it would be hinting that the blogger cares about all of the posts, old and new alike and what I read from that blog would be as up-to-date as possible. Not rectifying feels, in my opinion, as saying: “I already said the earth is flat so… let’s keep it like that” and editing would be something like: “edit: I thought the earth was flat but I now realize it is round” or simply “the earth is round”.

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  5. Do you think though that by editing it that it no longer reflects your opinion? Just to take the example you’ve used if you read and really enjoyed a book and then find out that there were some issues with representation through someone else, changing your review then also becomes not just your opinion but the influence of someone else’s.

    I would imagine from reading your reviews that if there was a serious flaw with representation that you would spot it and highlight it but since we are all much more diverse than labels can capture should your opinion on that book change. As an example instead of changing the review or rating write an update that states that it does maybe have some bad representation that you werent aware of. I think it is important that people are bringing these issues to light but I don’t think that it means that people feel they have to change their opinion on a book based on such a thing.

    I mean of course if it is something that has struck a chord and really has changed your opinion then you should change your review or rating and at the end of the day it is entirely up to the individual reviewer but I worry that people start to feel as if they need to change their opinion in these situations.

    What do you think? 🙂

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    1. I do think that it changes my opinion. For example, if I didn’t realise that a book romanticised a toxic relationship and then did due to someone telling me, it would change my opinion of the book. I’m not a fan of toxic relationships and sometimes they are disguised in novels.

      My opinions are influenced by who I am, my life experiences and the people in my life. My opinion isn’t just influenced by objective measures.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Which I don’t doubt for a second, but to use your example you’ve liked a book and someone else says that it romanticizes a toxic relationship, what’s to say that they haven’t misinterpreted it and in fact, it isn’t all that toxic but now the idea is in your head so your opinion changes. How would you as a reader know when that is an ideal that you should be pointing out or not?

        I’m not sure I’m framing the question very well but to use your words what if it isn’t that in that the toxic relationship isn’t disguised at all but another reader took the wrong meaning. So say one reader tells you it is a toxic relationship and another says it isn’t how would you let that inform your review? 🙂

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      2. I would read through the passages and then change my review accordingly.

        However, in the case of it being a representation of a marginalised identity that I don’t have, I would take what those people are saying as the truth and link to their review to explain my changes.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post! And I definitely agree. There’s no harm in changing your rating or review, especially ones of books you read years ago. I’ve only changed ratings before (which I haven’t signalled) but I would probably add an ‘update’ section if I were to change a review.

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  7. 100% agree! If I do change my rating, I’ll put a link to a couple of different bloggers who have talked about the book’s problematic content to show why I changed my mind. This is a really great topic for discussion, thanks very much 🙂

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  8. I personally think adding the word ‘update’ followed by the details is the way to go. That way you’re acknowledging what you wrote to begin with, but not ignoring the potential issues.

    I like to do this even if I don’t agree that something is problematic, b/c I like to be honest with people who read my blog. The point is to give people the info., and let them decide for themselves. How can they do that if they don’t have all the relevant information? If it’s something that I’ve already covered in part or in full, then I may weigh up whether adding an update actually adds to the review, but otherwise I go for it.

    So I might say something like, ‘[X reviewer] highlights some potential problems with this book. I personally wasn’t bothered by this, but [X reviewer] makes some valid points.’ – especially if the reviewer is #ownvoices.

    As far as simple non-rep-related opinion goes, it depends how drastically it changes! There’s always the option of writing another post/review with your updated opinions, espec. if you changed your mind after a re-read!

    At the end of the day, it’s up to the blogger. But I feel like, for me to be comfortable with my own integrity, I need to be honest, and highlight and acknowledge any issues. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the long comment. I agree with most of what you say. However, if a reviewer is #ownvoices and I am not, I will check for a few different #ownvoices reviews that discuss the representation in question. I might not recognise the problem because I myself do not share the identitiy.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Totally! But that doesn’t mean we’re always going to agree – we may not always understand, even after searching for other rep. discussions – we’re human, after all – and we still need to acknowledge the valid points that those reviewers made.

        Or there may be a varying amount of views on the rep., even from #ownvoices reviewers – after all, we both know marginalised people don’t always have the same opinions on things.

        Again, I feel it’s important to acknowledge #ownvoices opinions, even if they differ from my own. That doesn’t mean my feelings on something have changed – though they may have, or they may be in the process of changing – simply that I realise that other people felt differently, and are totally valid in their opinions, and that they’re likely to know more about it than I do. 🙂

        (This reply also ended up epically long – sorry! Also, I slightly sound like I swallowed a dictionary, but that’s because I was trying to be clear and it’s before my morning cup of coffee! Lol.)

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  9. Great post idea! I agree with you, I think you should definitely change your ratings and reviews if your opinion of a book has changed or you’ve recently learned the book has problematic content. I think using “Update” at the top of reviews is a really good idea. I haven’t changed any of my reviews yet but if I ever do in the future, I’ll use your format (so thank you for the idea 😀 ).

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  10. Thank you for posting on this. It became quite timely recently as I became aware (from an #ownvoices reviewer) that there was problematic content in some editions of a picture book I had favorably reviewed. I don’t feel I can allow my review to stand as is but have been debating the best way to update it.

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  11. This is such a great post! There are definitely times where, after I’ve had some time to think about a book, my opinion ends up changing. I usually don’t change my review if it’s just something like “eh, I don’t really think this is as good as I first thought” but I have started to edit my reviews once I learn that something is problematic. Like you said, I feel like I have a responsibility to the people who read my reviews to let them know if a book might be offensive/harmful so even if I don’t pick up on problematic content on my own, I will usually go back and change my review once I hear about it.

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  12. Great post. 🙂 I actually do edit my reviews and ratings over time on specific books due to a number of factors. The first is just grammar and syntax, if I glance at it later and see errors or a sentence that is just awkward I’ll re-write it to make it nicer. This happened recently when I made my new blog last year and took all my GR reviews and edited them, since I wrote many of them years ago and I was a less skilled writer.

    The other is if I find that my feelings for a book changed over time, which happens sometimes. There were ones at the time that I was pretty meh about but wanted to be nice because, well other people really like the book, and the writing style was pretty polished, but then later I realized I need to be more honest with myself if I really just didn’t like a book that it’s okay to give it a lower rating. I realized it was silly to have books I frankly didn’t like sitting with with the same star rating to ones I actually had fun reading.

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    1. I totally get you. I realised that I’d sometimes give a book 5 stars just because it’s fun to read and then realise that it wasn’t as good as other 5 star books. I always compare the rating I’m thinking of giving a book to other books that I have given the same rating to in the past.

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