Let me start off by saying this: I have huge respect and admiration for reviewers.
The media, bloggers, podcasters and bookstagrammers who write reviews are amazing. A lot of reviewers are doing this on their own time. They might make a little money on their blogs or YouTube channels with some kind of advertisement, but most don’t. Many of them are doing this purely out of love for books. They spend hours reading the book, crafting their reviews, then posting them–often with images they buy. If they have a website, they pay for that too. Many will run contests, and those usually have expenses like buying the prizes and postage. Even if authors are providing the prize and mailing them, there’s the cost of advertising.
Reviewers add value to our world by:
–Helping authors and their book get exposure.
–Helping readers choose books they want to read, so they keep reading and buying more.
Reviewers are valuable to the book community and deserve our respect and support. I’d even go so far as to say we should “protect” their right to evaluate a book honestly.
–Even if the author doesn’t like the review.
–Even if the author send them a free book.
What do you do if you get a bad review? NOTHING IN THE PUBLIC SPACE. That means:
A. Don’t respond to the review either on the platform it was posted, or anywhere else public.
B. Don’t contact the reviewer personally to “correct” or “challenge” her opinions. They are her views, leave her alone.
C. Don’t go after the reviewer in a nasty social media attack. I see a lot of this going on, some in the book world, but a lot of it in other spaces. The attacker gets a lot of attention that way. But…I rarely see that attention turn into actual sales of a book. And for me, that is simply not who I want to be. I’m not here in the world to polish up my bitch whip and lash out at others. I’m tired of all the ugliness and hate, so I choose not to add to that steaming pile by throwing a public temper tantrum. Maybe that’s just me.
What do you do if a review gets something factual wrong? This one is a bit tricky.
A. First, made 100% sure its a factual error. Sometimes, even that is subjective. But if you’re sure the reviewer made a true factual error like getting a character’s age wrong and that really matter in the context of the story and review, then:
B. Contact them through private messaging, either on their blog, FB or their email if possible. Thank them for the review, and gently mention the factual error.
C. Don’t be confrontational or passive aggressive. And don’t make demands. Most reviewers are very conscientious and will fix the mistake without any more prodding from you.
D. If they don’t fix the error, move on with your life. You have more books to write and things to do. Spending any more time fretting over someone else’s mistake is only going to make you miserable.
I know it’s hard to hold back sometimes. But let me ask you this:
Did you write the best book you were capable of at the time?
Yes? Then walk away, you did your job. If your answer is no, then use this painful moment to re-evaluate. But that’s another blog.
Now for a few things you can do when a review upsets you:
A. Eat chocolate. Lots of chocolate or whatever your indulgence of choice is.
B. Complain to your significant other.
C. Talk to write friends who “get it” and also, who will remind you that you’re a great writer.
D. Write another amazing book.
I want to close with this: A huge and sincere THANK YOU to all reviewers!
June 30th, 2021 at 7:05 am · Link
This is why I no longer belong to RWA:
“…a nasty social media attack. I see a lot of this going on, some in the book world, but a lot of it in other spaces. The attacker gets a lot of attention that way.”
I do respect reviewers. And if they don’t like my book, cool. There are a lot books (and authors) that I don’t enjoy reading. I don’t write to the mass market. I probably should, but I just…can’t. For reasons that aren’t for public consumption.
That said, I have issues with reviewers with political/personal agendas who go after authors and books. Those are much harder to ignore and walk away from. Still, you’re right. It’s best not to engage. I’ve walked away from a bunch in the last two years.
You’re right. There’s so much ugliness in the world and the cancel culture is a cancer on our profession and in our lives. Awesome topic today, Jen. And brave of you to bring it up! 🥰
June 30th, 2021 at 7:52 am · Link
Yep to your post. And yep to Silver’s comments. Including the one about this being an awesome topic.
June 30th, 2021 at 2:59 pm · Link
This is a great post. I always try to write reviews and I try to say something positive even if I hated the read. I’ll often say that it’s me, just not my cup of tea.
If it’s written so poorly that I have to quit, that’s a different story. I may say the editing needed work. I figure the the editor should now that the book is awful and work to fix it or not publish it at all.
As for how to cope when a review upsets you, you have an excellent strategy.
Oh, we have had two downpours the past two days. Both for about 5 minutes right around 5 PM. It then returns to dry , hot, and humid.
Have a great Wednesday!
June 30th, 2021 at 6:14 pm · Link
Silver, yep. I’m staying with NINC as they are striving to represent professional authors and their issues. It works for me. Plus I love their conference when I can go. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to in the last few years but maybe next year.
I walk away these days too. But I will say this: I have not seen a legit romance reviewer attack a book or author based on politics. If they did, I would no longer follow them or provide my books to them. I would not call them out publicly because they are clearly looking for attention. I have seen social media troublemakers do it, which may be what you’re referring too. Those types are firestarters: They strike a match, and I’m not going to throw kindling on it for them to watch it burn.
Writing to market is tricky as the market can shift lightning quick. I think we do better developing our voices and improving our craft as we tell the stories we love–but that’s just my opinion
Thanks for sharing your thoughts!!
June 30th, 2021 at 6:14 pm · Link
June 30th, 2021 at 6:20 pm · Link
Viki, it’s awesome that you write reviews! I’m not good at it, so I admire all of you who do it. I love your “rule” of trying to say something positive if possible.
Commenting on the editing is very fair. I think it’s fair to criticize the book in almost any way. I think we authors can–to be blunt–be oversensitive and reactive. Readers should be allowed to talk about books without authors censoring them. The exception to that is when the review becomes a verbal attack on the author, or a threat–but that’s not something you’d ever do.
Sounds like thunderstorms that come in suddenly and leave just as fast. Such unstable weather lately! Hope you guys get a break soon.