I want to start out by thanking those who have questions for using the SPAL question form to ask those questions. You guys have some really good questions and I have fun looking up the answers for the questions I don’t know and sharing the information I do know and don’t think to share because I take it for granted. It also makes it so much easier for us to tailor our posts to your guys needs.
While on vacation I received a question in my inbox and was going to write this big long post about it. Then I looked at the 200+ emails sitting in my inbox that I have left to go through and answer, plus a few book cover designs that I need to do and finish for clients, some websites I need to update and complete the construction of, a story to finish, a 60 Day Writing Challenge that starts Monday, a sick kid to cuddle with, and a house that is starting to looking like a poster child for Hoaders and realized that I really don’t have the time.
So rather than try to write the post, I’m going to cheat and post the question:
I’ve seen authors and reviewers fighting over book reviews. Is there a time when the author should reply to a review?
Joleene asked people to weigh in on the topic and some of you did.
My answer to the question is: No.
Battling over a book review is stupid and childish. I’d put my kids on time out for such behavior. Readers will put you on the do not read list. Even some of the loyal ones. Replying to book reviews is equally suicidal.
I don’t care if the review is good. Don’t thank them. Most reviewers don’t appreciate it and most readers find a lurking writer creepy.
I don’t care if the review is bad. Write a scathing letter you never plan to send. Rant to your best friend about the unfairness of it all. Cry over a few shots of Whiskey or a half-gallon of ice cream. Just don’t respond to them. If you want to wait until after you calm down to complain on your blog about your greatness and how mean the reviewer was, just remember they have Google Alerts and followers too.
They only review you should ever respond to is the one you ask for. Good or bad, thank the reviewer for taking the time to review it for you.
I can hear the “But Stephannie” right now. No, buts.
Writing is a Business, unless you are doing it for a hobby. If writing is your hobby and you have no intentions of making it a business, by all means reply to the reviews. Just don’t expect people to be happy about it. People will attack you for it. If this is your business, then playing by the rules is a must. This doesn’t mean allowing people to walk over you, but pick your battles and reviews are not a battle you can win.
- Reviews are people’s opinions and reading is tastes are subjective. What one person loves, another may not. I also don’t see the point of picking a fight with someone over their opinion. It’s pointless and it’s not going to change anyone’s mind. Trying makes you look like a crazed, maniac author that will find themselves talked about on Facebook and Twitter while they may watch their books sail off the shelves for a time, others are disgusted by the display and potential readers are lost.
- Good reviews can sometimes look like a bad review. An objective reviewer will balance the good and the bad. They will show the author their weaknesses and their strengths. They aren’t looking to be a smart ass or a megalomaniac. They are writing the review for the reader. As writers, all we see is the negative and want to scream “You didn’t understand my vision!”
- People are mean and reviews can sometimes be ugly. As a reader, these types of reviews from set my teeth on edge. I discount them for the heartless, cruelty of a reviewer with a personal vendetta against the writer. They are no better than the school bully that uses the geek kid as a punching bag only to have the teacher ignore it because she didn’t see it happen. They are the ones that take great lengths to publicly flog the author, rake their flaws through the coals, have little to nothing nice to say, and attack the author personally.
My best advice is to never look at your reviews. Don’t read them and don’t let people tell you about them. You’ll be happier for it. Why? Because there is too many negative critics who aren’t helpful in their reviews. There are too many hookey reviewers that make me wonder what they got for writing the review. There are too many gushy reviewers that go on and on about the greatness of the author to the point that I start to think “stalker.” And then there is the reviewer that write a review that attacks the writing and writer in a way that screams “personal vendetta.” You don’t want to get mixed up in that scene. It will kill your career.
Now that I wrote a post about 700 words longer than I planned, what do you think? Should the battle of book reviewer and author be happening? What do you think when you hear about such things? Should writer’s reply to reviews?