As a writer, I believe – in these modern times especially – there is a certain responsibility I must be wary of. Nay, have it become a part of my thinking. That is to do better when it comes to my writing. To be better. Not only for myself but for my readers as well.
But at the same time, I’m not just including myself here, I’m including all writers. And as such, the topic of today’s discussion is responding to those dreaded reviews. Dun, dun, dun!
As an author, one thing must become abundantly clear. Once you publish a story/book it is out of your hands and in the public domain. You are responsible for what you have written, but you are not responsible for other people’s opinions. But, and here’s the kicker, YOU are also responsible as to how you react to reviews.
The golden rule is DON’T.
Don’t ever respond to a review unless you have been invited to do so (by the reviewer). An example of that would be: “Hey, I really liked this book, will there be a sequel (author’s name)?” On every other occasion don’t respond to any review, 5 star, 3 star, or 1 star. EVER! Don’t even ‘like’ a review. It shows how insecure you are. Trust me. It does.
And especially DON’T go on social media to complain about readers who gave you a low rating. That’s just a no no. A big bloody NO NO! You will be automatically placed on a ‘do not read’ list in places like Goodreads. And for an indie author (if that’s who you are) that can hurt sales big time! And I’ve been an indie author, and sales are hard enough to come by as it is. Shooting yourself in the foot will make it worst. Again, trust me on that.
There are so many instances of this sort of thing happening where authors respond to reviews, but I want to draw attention to one author (with 20K + followers on Twitter) who decided it was a good idea to bitch about a 3 star review she got for book 1 or her series of 3. She rallied her followers to basically bash this reader/reviewer for not ‘reading the other two books to get what she wrote’. I mean, seriously? And it was a 3 star review (which according to Goodreads, translates as ‘I liked it’) Imagine if this author got a 1 or 2 star review. Yikes!
First, the privilege shown in those tweets was unbelievable (remember when I spoke about doing better, being better?). She cried victim and blamed the reader THE READER for not ‘getting’ her work. Suffice it to say, this author was called out for what this all was and has now taken a break (gone on hiatus). Yeah. You got caught, and now you have to try and dig your way out of the hole you created. This was really an appalling example of an author behaving badly towards their readers. They are on my ‘do not read’ list too.
Listen, please. Not everyone is going to get your work. But many people will. Take the good with the bad. Learn from reviews if they give good advice. If not. Don’t worry about them. Through the years I’ve had some reviews that have been terrible and some that have made me cry with how wonderful they are. It’s all part of being a writer. And if you don’t want people to review your work (as is their right) then don’t publish. Keep those stories on your hard-drive. Or better yet, just go on LuLu and publish a POD copy for yourself and a few friends. That way you have a story out there but not to the public.
The other thing to remember here is reviews are for the readers, not for the authors. An example of this is to search up your favourite author on Goodreads (or similar site) and see the reviews they got for one of your favourite books of theirs. There’s a mix, isn’t there? Some 1 star and terrible, others glowing. It’s all part of being a writer, getting reviews. But it’s the end process. The part you have no control over.
So just write those stores. Improve your craft and move on to the next one. I don’t even read reviews of my work any longer. Sure, sometimes a friend may point a good one out, but other than that, I don’t. Remember, tweets or posts, even deleted, are remembered by those you’ve offended.
So if you bag reviewers you will be remembered as well…and not in a good way.