Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Reviews, Reviewers, and Gratitude

There has been an ongoing battle between reviewers and authors pretty much since there have been books written, and like most things, everyone has an opinion. As the title of this post suggests, I want to talk about reviews, (professional) reviewers, and the art of gratitude, particularly on the author's part. There's nothing snarky in putting professional in parentheses, I just want to differentiate them from those who review on Amazon or Goodreads, rather than having their own blog to talk about books.

For the author, writing is a joy, and often we put our hearts and souls into our stories. We know, intellectually, that not everyone is going to like them, but hope springs eternal in the desire that the majority of public opinion will be favorable. I've heard many authors get really nervous before a release because they fear the book will flop, or the reviews will be devastating. It's hard to hear someone doesn't like it, or really doesn't like it, or hates it.

One thing to remember about negative reviews on Amazon or Goodreads is that they are someone's opinion, perhaps with an ulterior motive, but still an opinion. And as a author, you can only write the best story for you. YOU are who you must impress. Not the public (even though we hope). Stick to that and the bad reviews won't hit as hard.

The other thing to remember about negative reviews from places like Amazon and Goodreads is not to interact with the reviewer, even when their words set your blood afire and make you want to throw grenades at them. LOL I know the feeling, but to engage with them is to only start a war that makes authors and reviewers take sides, and then the anger blossoms until it's out of control. Read the negative review or don't, but let it go as not their cup of tea. You can't please everyone. Some folks just have an agenda or are having a bad day, and you just happen to be their target that moment.

With professional reviewers, it's a little different. I have a friend who is a professional reviewer. She has her own blog where she puts up her reviews, and her reviews tend to be well-written and well-thought out. I asked her once about gratitude and reviews, and she gave me some good pointers about how to interact (as an author) with a professional reviewer.

  1. If you have asked a reviewer to review your book, and they give you a favorable review, thank them privately for their time and review, not on the blog where they reviewed it, then post and tweet the link to the review. This allows you to express your gratitude for their time without looking like you've bribed them.
  2. If you requested a review and it came back negative or awful, thank them privately for their time. That's it. Simple. "Thank you for your time reviewing my book." Don't apologize for them not liking it, and don't go on your own blog and blast them. Just nod, smile, say thanks, and cry on your best friend's shoulder in private. No need to drag this into public.
  3. If the review is unsolicited, like through your publisher or the reviewer picked it up on whim, and it's wonderful, the best way to thank the reviewer is to post the link on Facebook or Google Plus, and tweet it on Twitter like this: "Did you see this great review on [title of book]? Check it out" and post the link. This will bring people to the reviewer's site (which helps them) and drums up interest in your book, which helps you.
  4. If the review is unsolicited and it's awful, do nothing except cry on your best friend's shoulder in private. It's hard to take and you want to scream in reaction, but you just have to let it go, and you don't have to direct anyone to the bad review. Bite your tongue and move on. Anything else just incites the battles we've seen recently between reviewers and authors.

An attitude of gratitude really helps in these situations. Treating people, yourself included, with respect works out the best. Especially since you put your work out there specifically to get noticed, to entertain, and to share. If you didn't do it for these reason, why are you publishing?

I've gotten a few 1 star reviews and they're heartbreaking, but I realized that it's not about me, the story just didn't do it for that person. I try to write the best story I can for myself. Do I believe in the characters? Are their actions convincing to me? Do I love them for all their flaws and perfections? If I can answer yes to those questions when I'm writing, then I've accomplished what I set out to do: Write the best story I could for me. I can't please everyone, but if I can please myself, I'm on the right track.

I'm grateful for every good review I get, and it always warms my heart when someone likes my book(s). If you've read Her Devoted Vampire and liked it, I'm grateful.

Thanks for stopping by and happy reading! :)

8 comments:

  1. EXCELLENT post and very timely. Thanks so much!

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  2. I love talking about reviews, because as both a blogger and an author, I've been through it all.

    The only time I think it's A-OK to go onto a blogger's website and thank them, or comment would be if you are guest posting/blog hopping, or if they specifically tweeted, facebooked, emailed you "hey I love your books! come and look at my 5+++ star review"

    Any other time, I agree w/Siobhan-a private email is always lovely (imagine your favorite author emailing you to say thank you!).

    Oh, and any time I get bummed about a negative review, I just remember that even I gave my all-time favorite author a 2 star review once. Wanna know why? It didn't work for me. Simple as that.

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    1. You're absolutely right. If the reviewer is asking you to drop by or you're on a blog hop, thanking them on their blog is the right move. Thanks for commenting, Highland Hussy. :)

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  3. Everything you say here is spot on. There have been too many examples of reviews sparking a bitter (and public) fued between the reviewer and the author or in many cases the reviewer and people who disagree with the review.

    Sometimes we just need a reminder about common courtesy. And if the reviewer behaved badly in the first place then just report it and step away.

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    1. That's the best way to deal with all of this, I think. Why make it worse. Thanks for stopping by, Goran. :)

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  4. I find this a lovely post, Siobhan. Thanks!

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    1. Thanks, Emerald. I've seen a lot of backlash from reviews, and it doesn't seem to help anyone. Thanks for commenting. :)

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