Should authors respond to negative reviews?
This is an interesting question that I often think about being an author myself. Only today I read a dilemma one author has about a 5 star review she was given. You’d think 5 star review, yay, great! But the author has an issue that the reviewer mentions certain things that didn’t happen the way she perceived in the plot. Maybe she never even read the book or hadn’t read it properly. Maybe the reviewer just misinterpreted the story. Who knows, but one thing I do know… it’s not usually helpful to challenge someone’s book review of your own book.
Because if you do then it’s more of an author ego thing. You’ll never win. You’re not going to get the reviewer to suddenly change their mind and it could work against you.
One author I know challenged someone who’d given her a 3 star but iffy review for her book. He then changed it to a 2 star review. Then his daughter got involved and wrote a scathing review for the same book, giving it just 1 star, then the man’s wife also left a bad review.
It’s just not worth the time and trouble.
Recently, I noticed a best selling author responded to a negative review about one of her books on Amazon. To be honest, I thought she did herself a disservice by bothering to reply to the reviewer at all. In the end, it became a bit of a slanging match between the author and reviewer. The author constantly defended her book and stated why it was written that way, with the reviewer continually attacking her and anything she had to say, finally accusing her of being patronising etc. It ended up with the author deleting her comments, which the reviewer ended up jumping upon.
Authors just can’t win. We have to take the good with the bad. If you get a bad review even if you don’t think it was fair, just suck it up. People are entitled to their opinion anyhow. Focus on the good reviews. A few bad reviews for my favourite authors’ books doesn’t put me off those books. I know of someone who has had constant bad reviews for one of her books, criticising everything from the grammar and spelling to the formatting. The book referred to, continues to sell and is her best selling book to date! So go figure!
I had a poor review for one of my erotica books from someone. This reviewer was very sly. She ran a group on Goodreads and when she found out I had a new book release appeared to take interest in it, then wrote a review slating it! It was obvious from the things she said she hadn’t read it [she got the plot wrong] and also she admitted it wasn’t a genre she liked anyhow. I thought, why read it then? To add insult to injury even knowing I was an author in her group, she continued sending me newsletters.
What I did instead of arguing about things was to block her on Goodreads so I wouldn’t have to keep seeing the negative review. I didn’t reply to it though as she’s entitled to her opinion, and it’s still there for all the world [except me] to see.
There appears to be a band of reviewers these days who themselves have become notorious as authors of reviews. They often attack authors’ works, tearing them to pieces. They could be considered ‘The Simon Cowell’ of the book world. Like a panel on X Factor who swipe away at the ‘contestants’, trying to remove an author’s self esteem as they’re failed authors themselves. If they were credible authors they wouldn’t have time to spread their poisonous comments around in cyberspace.
Some have hundreds of followers on Goodreads. One well known one, who I shall call ‘Madame Laughter’ has been running a website for years. She reviews tons of books. I don’t know how one woman can read and review so many, she must have arms like an octopus! She’s very acerbic with her pen and has caused many an author grief. Yet, no one knows her identity.
I wrote to her once after she’d given one of my favourite authors a particularly bad review which I didn’t agree with. It was particularly savage. She replied to me with the words, “Do you have a particular axe to grind etc., etc.,” then proceeded to review my e-mail to her. It was quite comical as the woman could not seem to get out of review mode.
I don’t think I know of one author who has written to a reviewer trying to get them to upgrade their review/remove those nasty comments/ add extra stars, who has got a positive response.
In fact, quite often the opposite happens — things get heated and they might get others involved and/or give an even worse review on that book and subsequent books.
One famous author even went as far as threatening a Goodreads reviewer to the point of saying she would turn up at her home as she knew her identity and where she lived. This caused the reviewer to immediately shut down her Goodreads and Twitter accounts, she’d amassed a lot of followers too.
Now that’s one author with an incredibly big ego…