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Why do some authors find the need to respond to every review?


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Showing 276-300 of 321 posts in this discussion
Posted on May 18, 2012, 11:15:15 AM PDT
Scott S says:
This is a really interesting thread. I never knew there were so many thoughts on this subject.

The other day, for the first time, I commented on a reader's review. It was on my most recent book. It's a new genre for me. I was worried about how it would be received.

Her review was generous and kind. In the moment, I wanted to thank her, as I was genuinely appreciative. I had been so nervous. Knowing that at least one reader was entertained brought me great joy. It's a joy I'd imagine you might have felt in your life about something you accomplished. We can all related.

So, I thanked her. I wanted to let her know how much I appreciated her taking the time to share her thoughts. I knew no other way to reach her. I still don't know if I have - do people read the comments on the own reviews? I never have.

None of this is necessarily responsive to the question of why some writers feel the need to respond to *every* review. I never have and I'm sure I never will. It sounds exhausting. But now I kind of wish I did I did. Why not say "thank you" when someone shows you kindness? When I think about it like that, why shouldn't writer's respond to every review - even the negative ones? It was nice of them to read your book. Why would it be impolite to say "thank you" or "sorry you didn't like it?"

I'd couldn't see responding to a negative review in an argumentative way, though. What would I do? Debate the person? Reviews are someone's opinion - I can't argue someone into liking my book - or anything else, for that matter. I suppose I'd object if someone slandered me personally, but I'd take that complaint to Amazon, not to the writer.

If someone doesn't like my work, they're entitled. If their negative review is thoughtful and clear, it might help someone who shares their taste make a better decision about whether or not to buy it. That's a service, too.

I responded to one review, once, because it moved me. Every review does, but that one affected me deeply - at just the moment I most needed the encouragement. I hope its author has read my response, and appreciated it. I didn't consider the "appropriateness" of my comment at the time, I did what felt right. I've been thrilled when an author I liked responded positively to something I wrote, but we humans are a varied and unpredictable bunch. Maybe someone else would be offended. I'd feel badly if he or she did.

In reply to an earlier post on May 18, 2012, 11:56:25 AM PDT
Well said. Good or bad, authors should never respond to reviews. Period.

In reply to an earlier post on May 18, 2012, 12:00:13 PM PDT
It's not etiquette per se, more like a general consensus. Some like to get a response, others don't. Think of it as erring on the side of caution.

In reply to an earlier post on May 18, 2012, 12:42:01 PM PDT
HJ Leonard says:
What John Green said. Better safe than sorry.

Posted on May 18, 2012, 12:49:47 PM PDT
I've always taken the stance of behaving like the Royal Family and maintaining a dignified silence, except in one case when I made a change after a reader's suggestion and I wanted new potential readers to know I had made the change.

In reply to an earlier post on May 18, 2012, 1:45:25 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 18, 2012, 1:47:29 PM PDT
No matter how well-intentioned the author may be, it makes it seem as if the reader wrote the review for the author, and that typically is not the intent.

Have you guys seen the articles about Amazon reader reviews being seen as almost equal to the trade magazine reviews? I can't find the original article, but saw many of these on the big news sites a couple of days ago.

ETA: word

In reply to an earlier post on May 18, 2012, 2:04:24 PM PDT
A dignified silence is a great way to put it. No matter what people say, they can't accuse you of misbehavior if you don't say anything.

Posted on May 18, 2012, 7:09:29 PM PDT
The book page is not the author's personal page. They've not only given up the "baby" that they hold so dear, but they are offering it for SALE on a site for monetary gain where readers can rip it to pieces if they care to. It is an Amazon sales page, just like a toaster page. For the author to be hanging out there in the shadows, waiting to pounce on every review and holding court like he is on his personal blog is just a little ridiculous. Thank people on your blog! Tweet every review! Put your blog/website/email/Twitter on your Amazon author page so that those who want to have a personal relationship with you, can. But for your own good, stay out of the *Customer* review section.

My first exposure to an author comment on a review was a simple, short explanation of something the reviewer brought up. I thought nothing of it other than "weird that the author commented". But the next comment after the author's was someone saying, "Since the author is so defensive, I'm not interested in buying any of his books." I didn't think the author was defensive, but this shows that you never know how people are going to take your response.

Since then, I've seen a ton of author comments that were defensive or even abusive.

Posted on May 18, 2012, 9:39:04 PM PDT
Quinton Blue says:
There's some research that suggests negative publicity is beneficial. Some companies are deliberately trying to tick people off because the resultant attention helps. For example, Spirit Airlines admits to engaging in "shock marketing" by getting bad publicity for tasteless behavior. ... Is the same true for books? Maybe. Sometimes if a bad review for a book I'm considering is too negative, I come away convinced the reviewer, not the book, is the problem. And if I click on the Amazon sample and it's good, the author has a sale. ... Writers need to chill out and let the opinions fly.

In reply to an earlier post on May 18, 2012, 10:20:14 PM PDT
Daniel Hill says:
So if a reviewer says something like "I wonder what the author's thought process was when they did X" is it not appropriate for the author to respond with something like "glad you asked, what I was thinking was..."?

In reply to an earlier post on May 19, 2012, 3:02:50 AM PDT
SX Woman says:
You might not like paranormal vampire books, but they sell well.

In reply to an earlier post on May 19, 2012, 3:52:37 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 19, 2012, 3:52:56 AM PDT
HJ Leonard says:
If the reviewer really wanted an answer, they could most likely go to the author's blog or website to ask and get a direct answer. Sometimes the question is redundant.

Posted on May 19, 2012, 4:26:41 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 19, 2012, 4:31:36 AM PDT
I agree that responding tends to be unhelpful and counterproductive.

But as an author, I can sympathize with the impulse.

I was going to say more until I realized I was channeling everything I wanted to say to my reviewer into my post here. I had two paragraphs going.

Now I just deleted a third that tried to slip in. You've got to be vigilant!

It doesn't help that new media admonishes creators to engage with their audience in almost every forum except the one that has the greatest impact.

I agree that responding tends to be unhelpful and counterproductive. But it's human nature to value that which we create, and to be protective of it.

In reply to an earlier post on May 19, 2012, 11:28:52 AM PDT
What HJ said.

In reply to an earlier post on May 19, 2012, 12:06:49 PM PDT
I noticed if you leave a bad review for this book called Wool that you will literally got like thirty nasty rants in response within an hour, all from 30 guys who write exactly the same way. LOL.

Also any bad reviews of that book are taken down within 24 hours. Not sure why. I gave a legitimate and thoughful review of that book that was two stars. I didn't bash it. I wasn't trying not to like it so I didn't think it was fair to be attacked so viciously by the author and then have my honest review reported and removed.

I never respond to bad reviews on my stuff but unfortunately I hardly even get any reviews in the first place, I'd kill for a bad review just for the attention.

Posted on May 19, 2012, 12:28:10 PM PDT
BEAST says:
As an author I can appreciate and respect the fact that a review is for readers. I can even deal with the poor review that is solely based on personal preference and not quality of writing. I think my issue comes into play when I give a disclaimer in the book description about the book content and then someone gives a poor review for those elements.

I stated in the description that there was violence and sex. And now you write a review with two-stars because the sex and violence turned you off? This is an instance where the book just wasn't your cup of tea and you maybe should not have gotten in the first place. But lets not leave a negative review about the same thing that was stated in the description.

It's like going to a gay strip club and getting made that there weren't any women that came down the catwalk. AND THEN, write a letter to the owner complaining. This should be an instance where you suck it up and just don't buy from that author anymore...

Posted on May 19, 2012, 12:39:37 PM PDT
@Gavin Fletcher
I've sent the following suggestion to Amazon.

I've seen writers bemoan 1 star reviews where the reader has not properly read the book description and been shocked by the sex/swearing etc.
I've seen a children's book thread where the parent has an 11 yr old child with a reading age of about 14 yrs, but she is worried about her daughter reading teen books that might be too `adult' for her.

Films all have warning symbols for nudity, violence and sex (and not suitable for children). When we upload our books there could be a check box for nudity, violence, swearing, sex or erotica etc. It could be further broken down to low, moderate or high. Readers could then be alerted by these symbols and it could prevent someone from buying the `wrong' sort of book.

In reply to an earlier post on May 19, 2012, 12:40:32 PM PDT
@Gavin: You said "I think my issue comes into play when I give a disclaimer in the book description about the book content and then someone gives a poor review for those elements".

I hope you know that most readers are savvy enough to discount a review by someone who was too lazy to read the book blurb? Many of us also discount the low ratings that go something like this "Errr...this is a kindle book, why is it more expensive then the paperback? One star..."
Truly Gavin, I roll my eyes when I see those reviews, and I don't think I am too far from the norm.

In reply to an earlier post on May 19, 2012, 12:41:22 PM PDT
And unless all of your readers are very stupid, won't they pick up on that same thing? Do they really need for the author to tell them that?

Some reviews are just plain stupid. I've seen several 5-stars lately that say "Just got the book and I'm sure it's going to be great!" I'd like to have those removed, too, but I bet the authors don't.
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In reply to an earlier post on May 19, 2012, 12:45:31 PM PDT
@LG: you forgot the requisite "and it should be made into a movie!!!!"

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 26, 2012, 4:57:01 AM PDT
Splinker says:
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Posted on Jun 26, 2012, 2:26:37 PM PDT
Pete Morin says:
Why do some authors find the need to respond to every review?

For many of them, a bad review is the first time anyone's ever told them they're not perfect in every way.

Posted on Jun 26, 2012, 3:17:14 PM PDT
She Lives says:
I don't understand why some reviewers will give a book a bad review and then get upset if others gave it a good review.....to each his own.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 26, 2012, 3:32:41 PM PDT
Same reason people who give a book a good review get upset when others give it a bad review, I guess.

I'm surprised at how ballistic people can go when their favorite author gets a bad review. Even when 99% of the reviews are good.

Posted on Oct 15, 2012, 12:17:46 PM PDT
Splinker says:
I respond to every other review.
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Discussion in:  Kindle Book forum
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Initial post:  Apr 2, 2012
Latest post:  Oct 17, 2012

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