Wednesday, November 6, 2013
#IWSG: What's a Writer To Do About a Bad Review?
The first Wednesday of the month means that it's time for the event that probably needs no introduction, but just in case this particular post goes viral I'll tell new readers what's going on. Today's post is my offering to the Insecure Writer's Support Group where writers from many blog quarters provide mutual support for those who may be getting hindered in their writing lives by insecurities that accompany the profession or may just be a part of life period. Started by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG is there for you if you need us--and who doesn't need a shoulder to lean on now and then? If you want to join then sign up at IWSG.
How should I respond to someone who gives my book a negative review because they didn't understand what I was saying or doesn't agree with me?
Actually nobody has asked me this but I did answer this question for a writer I was trying to help. This writer had put up a short e-book at Amazon and during a Free promotion I decided to help him out by promoting his book on my blog. While it was free I downloaded it so I could leave a review because as I'm sure most of us will agree, reviews are very helpful to have for your product.
*** If you want to see the Amazon listing before continuing you can click here. Take a look at the reviews and you will see two very short entries that don't say much and then you will find a review by one of my blog readers and you will find my review. By the way, if you go to the review and feel that it is a helpful review then please click the "YES" button. ***
To summarize for those who chose not to look at the Amazon listing, I gave what I thought was a very positive leaning four star review with an advisory that the story had a Christian bent to it. My review was geared to assist potential purchasers in deciding if they would want to buy the book. I described the book as it came across to me and gave my honest opinion about the book.
In turn the author, not realizing who had left the review (since he knows me by my real name), responded to me at some length in the comment section below the review. I think he came across as very defensive if not a bit reprimanding in response to the review I had left. In his response he explained points that he thought I missed or just did not get. He was civil in his response, but I felt it was not a wise decision on his part to do such a thing.
To help educate him, I chastised him for having engaged with a reviewer and arguing the points of the review with his refutations. I told him that this made him look unprofessional as an author and that if he argued his side with every reviewer who left a slightly bad review he could have quite an extensive battle ahead of him if he did get many reviews. My response to him was polite, but I did let him know that in the future he needs to let the reviewers have their say without his intervention unless they were specifically asking him to say something.
After that he did leave a word of thanks for my advice, but I thought he basically ran off with his tail between his legs at the end of our interchange.
If an author is insecure about what readers are saying I don't think it's the author's place to fight with his critics. That author should accept what has been said whether it be good or bad in the spirit of education so the advice can be considered and applied to future writing. Not everybody is likely to like everything we write. People have different tastes and different opinions and the author needs to realize that. It is arrogant to believe that what you have written is irrefutable and beyond judgement by those you read your work.
Do you think the author to whom I've referred was okay in trying to set his critic straight? Did I give helpful advice to the author or should I have just let it go? If you received a review that you did not agree with and it perturbed you, would you argue with a reviewer about it? Do you feel that negative reviews are discouraging or do they encourage you to be a better writer?