Author to Author: On responding to reviews


No really. Don't.

You might be asking "why? There has to be sometimes when it's okay to respond."

Unfortunately, the response to that is just "No."

"What if I just thank them for an amazing review?" - No.

"What if they missed the point or didn't understand something in the book, surely it's okay to correct them." - No.

"What if ..." - No.

Reviewers help authors by reviewing their books. If you want to thank them, post a broad sweeping thank you on your blog, your website, your facebook page, or whatever social media sites you're on thanking all reviewers for taking their time to review.

What about good reviews? Should you respond to those? Again, no. Not even to say thank you. While a few might welcome the thank you, they are not as common as you might think.

A lot of readers have voiced that this makes them feel uncomfortable because it makes them feel like authors are following them and not in the good, social media way, but a looking over their shoulder as they write their reviews, scrutinizing them sort of way.

I don't know about you, but I could be messaging my husband on messenger and if he was standing over my shoulder it would still bother me. And if you're thinking "Hey, that doesn't bother me, so it's okay if I do it." Think again. You're okay with it, but you don't know who isn't.

If the above isn't a good enough reason to not respond to reviews, ever, here's one more reason.

Reviews are for readers, not authors.

Yeah, believe it or not, reviewers don't (or shouldn't) write reviews to boost someone's ego. They are to share how they experienced a book, what they loved, what they hated. Whatever they wish to share with other readers. Reviews help other readers decide if this is the book for them.

Sure, the more reviews a book has the better it is for the author. But that doesn't change the reason the reviews were written in the first place, or the main purpose of reviews.

Some people love "love triangles" and others despise them. If a reviewer says "Ugh, another book with a love triangle! - 2 stars" Another reader might say "Sweet!" and one click.

Should you read your reviews? Eh, it's up to you. Some say to NEVER read them, others say they will always read every single one.

That's a personal decision. But if all you want to do is respond, maybe try to avoid reading them.

However, if you do, screen shot the good ones for when you have an "everything I write is crap" day. If you read the negative reviews, either take it worth a grain of salt, or try to learn from it - even if you don't agree with it.

And yes, even if it's really harsh.

An "I can't believe how badly this was written," review could hurt, but maybe take that mean review and try to see what they meant (sans nastiness) and reread your book or parts of it through their eyes, see if you can see how they'd feel that way about it. Perhaps you'll notice things in your writing that you could improve on.

If a reader says that you only tell, study the difference between show and tell and how to improve. Same with any other critique.

If you read the reviews, don't take them personally, even if they are attacking you as a person, because those attacks really aren't about you at all, but about them. Glean what you can and see if there's something you could improve on, because we should always be working to improve our craft.

If a review really upsets you, and it is okay if one does, don't blast them (even blotting out their name) on social media. Either talk to your significant other, parents, or a private message between you and a really good friend and rant to them to get your feelings out.

But above all, just remember that in the end:

Reviews are for readers, not authors.

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