Monday, 3 October 2016

On Authors Responding to Book Reviews


According to lots of tweets I've seen recently, many authors are advised by their publishers not to respond to book reviews.

To that I say: wuuuuuuuuuut?

I 100% agree that authors shouldn't respond to negative reviews. You only need to Google 'book reviewer hit with wine bottle' and 'book reviewer stalked by author' to know that it can get messy. And even if the author replies in a polite way, it's really awkward to find out that they know you didn't like what they put so much blood, sweat and tears into. Better than being stalked for it, but still.

However...

I'm not into speaking for everyone, but I'm pretty sure that on this occasion, I speak for most book bloggers when I say that we hugely appreciate it when our positive review is acknowledged by the author. We've spent hours reading the book, and then spent even longer planning, writing and promoting the review. We're spreading the word, shouting about the book to everyone we know, increasing your sales, and hopefully helping you to realise that your book isn't as bad as you might self-consciously think it is.

We don't have to do it, and you don't owe us anything, not even a speedily-typed tweet of thanks. But I'm British, so... it does kinda bum me out when I excitedly tweet an author my super-positive review of their amazeballs book, and they don't seem to care... at all. It's like when you step into the road so someone can keep walking on the pavement, and they don't even give you a nod of appreciation, so you end up muttering a sarcastic little 'you're welcome' under your breath. Just let me love you, authors. Pls.

It's not a huge problem. I get that authors are busy writing their next slice of papery greatness, or talking in front of hundreds of children at a school event, or travelling across the country on tour, or doing their tax return, or making their fourth slice of toast that day. There are more important, urgent things to do than reply to a tweet. But being ignored can be disheartening, and not sharing any reviews of your book is silly in terms of self-promotion. Spread the word that other people are spreading the word about you. Tweet a link to someone's review so you don't have to send your own awkward 'buy my book' tweet. It works.

Edited to add: Of course, some bloggers send neutral tweets where it's impossible to know whether the review is nice or not. In that case, you really can't expect a reply because how is the author meant to know whether to read it or not? I actually wrote a post about that here.

Maybe instead of advising authors not to respond to any reviews, publishers should advise them not to respond to negative ones...

What do you think about authors responding to reviews?

15 comments:

  1. I'm writing this anonymously because I'm an author... so I hope you don't mind.

    This is a really interesting topic. I'm a book blogger, too, so I understand that an author acknowledging a positive review is awesome/gratifying/exciting. Sometimes, though, it causes less stress not too. My publisher hasn't said anything specific about it, so I just go with how I'm feeling, honestly. Sometimes it takes a lot of bravery/courage to open that link a blogger sends you. Especially if the tweet is neutral/doesn't give an indication as to whether the blogger actually likes it. Because, unfortunately, there are some people who WILL send negative reviews to you. So as an author, I prefer this: a message/tweet saying you enjoyed the book. I don't need the full review; sometimes, it's just better for my mental health. Because at this point I've done everything to the book I can & it's done and I can't change a thing.

    Anyway, fabulous post/topic!

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  2. I love it when authors respond to my enthusiastic ramblings!! Authors are my pop stars, so any tweet from one makes me very happy... And makes me want to tell everyone just how amazing they are ❤

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  3. I guess publishers don't want the authors seen as favouring some people and not others? And perhaps looking like they only speak to the people that review the books positively. I guess some people could misconstrue that sort of thing if they looked at it that way. By authors not responding to any reviews at all then no one is singled out and there's no bias!

    I can see where the publishers would be coming from. But then again that's the risk the author would want to take. And thanking someone for loving their book seems like a nice thing to do!

    Jordon @ Simply Adrift

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  4. I agree. I think it's actually really exciting and nice if an author leaves a quick comment on a positive review on Gooreads to the effect of "I'm so glad you enjoyed my book!" But it's weird when authors comment on negative reviews. Even if they're perfectly professional and polite, I kind of hate knowing that the author actually read my negative review. I mean, I think readers have the right to say what they want about books and I don't feel bad about not liking every book I read, but that doesn't mean I want to go up to the author's face and say, "Just so you know, your book stinks." Knowing they read my negative review makes me feel like I did that, and I feel mildly bad.

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  5. I completely agree with you. I love it when authors respond to my positive reviews and I only ever tag them if I literally had nothing bad to say about it. I know some people tag authors in bad reviews so maybe some authors just don't watch/read any reviews of their books at all. Just in case they are bad.
    But I don't think there is a problem at all with them engaging in positive reviews.

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  6. Great points! And getting stalked by the author??? Yikes! I've accidentally tagged an author in negative review (I was like half asleep) and I felt so terrible afterwards...

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  7. I think it's just a matter of respect. If I send a review to an author, I usually do this because I'm being nice, wanting them to feel appreciated with my lovely super nice review. I find it fishy when I know they saw it and don't respond. Makes me feel like my work isn't appreciated, and I'm probably not going to send another positive review to them.
    - Jen from The Bookavid

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  8. I completely agree. It's great when an author tweets and/or posts your positive review on Facebook, or messages/comments to say thanks. It's a good feeling all around. I've had authors "correct" me on negative reviews, which is highly improper.
    Rebecca @ The Portsmouth Review
    Follow me on Bloglovin'

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  9. I love when authors acknowledge my positive reviews. I usually include the author's handle when I tweet a positive review. I do not for negative reviews because that's just mean. Twitter comments back from the author are always nice. Jewell Parker Rhodes even left a comment on my review post of her recent book - Towers Falling - and that completely made my day!

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  10. I have only had one author respond to a negative review, and it was a Chi!ldren's picture book author. They threatened me on Goodreads. I contacted the publicist and he said they tell their clients not to read Goodreads reviews. He said he was going to reprimand tbe author, but then I saw that the publicist went and rated the book five stars to cancel out my one star. That was certainly a wonderful reprimand. :P

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  11. I love it when authors acknowledge my positive reviews of their books! Actually, the other day I had an author re-tweet my link to my positive review of their latest book (yayyy!). However, I think that for negative reviews, authors replying can be super awkward. I've heard a few horror stories concerning authors interacting with reviewers, so I think that it's important to be a bit wary and cautious when dealing with the acknowledgement of negative reviews.

    This was a great post, I agree with all of your points!

    Wren @ http://fortheloveofbooksreviews.blogspot.ca/

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  12. I'm also writing this anonymously, because I'm an author. Please, please bloggers don't tag us in your negative reviews. We respect your right to criticise our work. We know that you don't mean to be hurtful. But it can be very off-putting to expect a positive review (because you're tagged in it) and open it up and find that the reviewer hated the book. Especially if the book hasn't been out long. And then (because you're tagged in it) people start retweeting the review, thinking you'll be pleased. And you can't really respond, because that looks aggressive, and you're trying to forget that review anyway. So please, think before you tag! (And if you give a 3 star, neutral review, be warned, we're going to read that as negative).

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  13. I love it when authors respond to my book reviews! I only ever tag the author if I've rated the book 4 or 5 stars and I love it when they acknowledge that they've seen my gushing, fangirly review :') I once had an author comment on a negative review (which I didn't tag them in as I think it's disrespectful and quite rude of a blogger to tag authors in negative reviews), they were very polite but it was so. very. awkward.

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  14. Excellent topic! I never tag authors in a negative review, though I have had to send them to publishers sometimes because they've asked for them, even if they are negative. When I first started blogging, I struggled to write negative reviews at all, and would either go easier on a book I didn't enjoy, or simply not review it. Then I realised that negative, but fair, reviews help readers too. I've read a negative review and gone on to read the book because I enjoy what the other blogger doesn't. But back to the topic, I LOVE when an author acknowledges my positive review. I've taken the time to buy (most often) their book, read it, review it, and share that review online in multiple places to essentially help their sales. So it can be very rewarding and exciting when an author acknowledges your review and/or interacts with you. I've even emailed an author about her book and we had quite a nice in-depth conversation about it, and life in general. It's also how I opened the channel to go on to interview authors on my blog. However. I can understand the difficulty authors face in this, and also I've wondered - what if an author acknowledges a positive review of one of their books I've written, but then I go on to negatively review another of their books, and they somehow read it expecting a positive review? That being said, I think as long as a critical review is respectful and justifiable, we should try not to stress over it as a community. You can't please all of the people all of the time as an author, and we need to ensure our reviews and voices remain true. R xx

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  15. I received a response from the author on my review of his indie book just today and I didn't mind it. It wasn't a perfect review, but mostly positive. He appreciated my critique and I felt useful.
    Rebecca @ The Portsmouth Review
    Follow me on Bloglovin'

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