I saw book review from an upset reader on the Goodreads account of an author I really like the other day…Both individuals will remain unnamed.
The reviewer had originally commented that a certain character was an overused stereotype. She had received a response from the author that indicated that the character was based on a real person.
The reader viewed this message as defensive or even aggressive (based on her own comments). I cannot comment on the content of that message since she did not post the exact words.
Unfortunately, instead of being placated by the author’s comment she changed her marginal review to a negative one.
From the reader’s perspective, the author had reacted to an iffy review in an aggressive and disrespectful fashion and because of this she became irate.
This is a perfect example of why we as authors should NEVER respond to negative reviews. The reader often feels targeted and instead of being mollified gets MORE upset.
I have a short list of rules that I think all authors no matter their publisher or industry should follow…
1. Never lash out in response to a negative review (It makes you look vulnerable, and makes the reviewer defensive…not a good combination!)
2. Read negative reviews ONLY to consider possible changes or improvements to your work. Many negative reviews will just be about personal preference, but the reader’s opinion is never up for debate. Keep that in mind at ALL times!
3. Don’t take it personally. Yes…EVER…readers are not attacking you, they are commenting on one story and from within their own personal perspective. We should not disregard their opinions, but we should view them in context!
4. Professionalism above all!
We as authors must present ourselves in a professional manner. Yes, our books are like our babies, and our first instinct is to defend and protect them.
But this is ALWAYS counterproductive. It gains us nothing, adds to the irritation of the reviewer, and can only hurt our reputation…
If you must respond to a review do so in a positive manner…
Yes, Thank you. I appreciate your input…etc…
Never as an attack, never as a defensive instinct…