Refrain from Childish Behavior   15 comments

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

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How Dare You Criticize Me?

No book in literary history has been universally loved, which makes reading reviews scary and sometimes frustrating. I remember getting my first — and so far only — 1-star review. Ouch! It felt like I’d been spit on and the guy had totally gotten me wrong. I wanted to message him and correct his errors.

I’ve also had a good review where it was clear the person reviewing hadn’t read the book. Thanks for being nice, but — why? I wanted to message the reviewer and ask that question.

I didn’t. In either case. I still wanted to address the negative reviewer, but I know responding in social media would backfire on me, as would reaching out directly, and I’m not interested in getting into a battle with someone who is pissed because I gored his sacred cow. In the next book, in the author’s notes, I explained I think the military, absent its chain of command, would “go rogue” in an apocalyptic setting. I’ve got historical evidence on my side. It’s fiction. Maybe using a novel to point out the flaws of top-down command-and-control will prevent those flaws from becoming reality if the apocalypse ever does occur.

So, besides clarifying my position occasionally, how do I cope with reviews I don’t like?

Keep It in Perspective

Stephen King, Brandon Sanderson, Susan Collins, and Kate Elliott have more bad reviews than I do. How do I know that? I read their reviews. They’ve got thousands of them and hundreds of them are negative. That doesn’t seem to have stopped them from being best-selling authors.

People are still buying Stephen King’s books despite his bad reviews. People are still reading and buying my books — and reading the next book in the series — despite that bad review. The ultimate review, in my opinion, is coin in my bank account and that’s happening … despite that bad review, despite the pointless review that didn’t make an ounce of sense. If people are still reading my books regularly, then I’ll accept an occasional bad review as the price of doing business.

Balance is Good Thing

If a book has 1,000 5-star reviews without a single negative one, that makes me suspicious that the publisher has somehow rigged the system and flooded the book site with fakes. I think having diverse reviews and ratings shows an author has diverse readers, and yeah, not everyone is going to like my book, my characters, or my writing style.

Don’t Shame Reviewers Online

I see authors sharing their negative reviews. I see them shaming the readers and the person who left that review. What do they think that behavior will achieve?

It doesn’t encourage me to read their book. It puts me off. It makes them come across as childish and unprofessional.

You get what I am saying, right? I know nowadays the authors interact more with readers and fans, but does that mean we should shame them because they happen to have an opinion we don’t like? Even if it is about our book? Even if they are unknown to us? Even if they left us a 1-star review that made us curl in a corner and cry, should an author push back against that?

I have never seen anything good come from an author sharing negative reviews on social media, so I don’t recommend it and I don’t do it.

Learn From The Negatives

I still read my reviews because I use them as a learning tool. If the negative ones have a them — they’re all saying the same thing — then there’s something there I might need to address in my writing, editing, whatever. I’m not going to change my opinion about what the unsupervised military would do in an apocalyptic event, but if someone brings up spelling, grammar, characterizations that are unrealistic, factual errors — every criticism is a learning opportunity, so I’d be a fool not to read them.

What About the Good Ones?

The majorities of my reviews are positive and sometimes I want to reach out and say “Thank you”, but I’m not convinced authors should reply to positive reviews either. Think about that. Stalking your readers – a little creepy, right? I think it might have a chilling effect on reviews. I don’t like the feeling of anyone looking over my shoulder when I’m doing anything. It’s probably something wrong with my sense of self-worth or whatever, but seriously, it bugs me. So why would I do that to someone else?

Honest reviews are hard enough to come by without setting up any barriers to readers leaving a review.

But hey, an occasional THANK YOU is classy, just keep it non-specific to all reviewers rather than addressing them directly.

Indie Authors Among Them

Posted October 7, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

Tagged with , , , , ,

15 responses to “Refrain from Childish Behavior

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  1. This is a lovely balanced article. I also read my reviews and try to learn from them. To me, one star reviews are over the top, no book could be that bad and most of these are about things the author can’t control anyway such as pricing and bad delivery service from Amazon. I embrace constructive criticism when it is offered and enjoy good reviews that make all the effort feel worthwhile.


  2. What a fantastic post! Keeps everything in perspective and full of sage advice. I’ve had 2 stars from someone who didn’t finish and 5 from someone who had seen the story in a way I hadn’t intended. All of them are valuable and I’m grateful to everyone who took the time.


  3. I think you pointed out some great tips. Authors are very human, and the changes to accessibility means we have to learn how to navigate social situations online that weren’t an issue before. I’ve seen authors trash a reader under the review, which is think is a huge No-No. I know when I’m reading reviews if I see somebody being crazy harsh in a review, I’m just going to stop reading the review anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. When I want to thank a reviewer for a particular great review, I’ll do it on one of my social media accounts. That way it’s more promo than a direct response, but if the reviewer happens to see it, it’s all good!


  5. Wise words, Lela. It’s not worth getting into a battle with somebody who has left a negative review, just in case they then leave 1 star reviews on everything we’ve ever written! I’ve known that happen to an author friend of mine, and Goodreads/Zon are very unwilling to take the negative reviews down even if they’re fake.


  6. Reblogged this on Stevie Turner and commented:
    These are wise words and interesting reading from a fellow blog-hopper regarding book reviews.


  7. If only the entire sniper mindset of the Internet would refrain…The short version of this post is “Even if you ‘win’ an internet argument you’re both (non pc for stupid).


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