My daughter is an Amazon Vine Reviewer, meaning she’s earned the spot by reading and reviewing a great number of books. Every once in a while she receives a note from an author—usually short and sweet, thanking her for her review. One author recently quoted her favorite line from the review, complimenting her writing.
However, after giving a 2 star review, another author’s response was . . . well, not so complimentary. Though awarding it only 2 stars, my daughter still mentioned several positive qualities about the book and explained why she was disappointed. It was an honest, justified opinion from one reader.
But the author publicly responded, both negatively and defensively. After pointing out that her review didn’t match the other reviews of those who obviously loved his book, he went on to “explain” that not everyone likes a sappy book and that perhaps she ought to look elsewhere for her happiness.
Ouch! I’m sorry, but that response was both personal and unjustified, particularly in view of the fact that she never called his book “sappy.” She said that the cover and title promised a light tone, but the content turned out to be more serious so she wanted to mention this aspect as a tip to future readers.
Okay, I admit being offended on my daughter’s behalf. But everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. No author should expect to please everyone, since we’re all so different. I would also guess if a book has only positive reviews then not enough people are reading and/or reviewing it. The best thing to do with a negative review is to chalk it up to taste, and thank God we’re all different.
But here’s the bottom line. I simply don’t understand why an author would sabotage himself this way. Attacking reviewers—i.e. readers—isn’t exactly the best way to attract more readers. My daughter actually owns another book by this author, which she has now placed in her giveaway pile without reading it. Did I mention she’s a Vine reviewer? That’s one less review he’ll get, and with the negative residue from this experience not only will I not be interested in his books, but neither will others, if they read the author’s public defense and attack. It simply makes no sense for an author to do this.
As an author myself, I rarely read my own reviews. The good ones puff up my head and the bad ones deflate it. That might sound like I’ll walk around balanced, but the truth is I’d rather just go along on an even keel than all that up and down. But if I did read my reviews, this whole experience has convinced me not to respond.
I will say getting a positive note from an author really pleases her, so that might be a good idea… But what about you? If you’re an author, do you respond to reviews? If you’re a reviewer, do you want an author to respond?