Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N = Never Argue with a Reviewer


I should really clarify this to say, “Never engage a reviewer.” Or perhaps, “Never tell a reviewer how to review.” Or how about, “Never threaten a reviewer”?

An author can do herself everlasting damage when she reads a review and decides to tell the reviewer he’s wrong. Or a troll. Or a bully. Or an idiot. Or not qualified to review because he didn’t finish the book.

There are two reasons a person will review a book: first, to talk about why he liked it, what he liked about it, and why others might like it; or second, to tell why he did not like it, what was wrong with it, and why others should avoid it.

Neither of these two reasons benefits the reviewer in any way. He doesn’t get his money back if he doesn’t like the book or if it’s poorly written, and he doesn’t get a bonus free book if he likes the book and recommends it to others. In fact, the reviewer has PAID for the privilege of reading the book, so he has the right to say whatever he darn well pleases about the book, good or bad. He has spent hours of his life reading the book and has earned the right to review it in any way he chooses, whether it be a lengthy discussion on plot and technicalities, or a pictogram made up entirely of smiley faces.

55 comments:

  1. Good Post, Lynda. Reviews can be heart pounding in a good way and in a bad way....

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    1. Heart-pounding reviews. I like that. I think we either have to have the mindset of "whatever—I know my writing is good" or just don't read them, for sanity's sake.

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  2. You're right, but it would be better if the review gave the negative aspects in a more constructive manner instead of bashing it completely. There must have been something good in the book. Wait, I've read one book where I couldn't find a thing to commend about it. I just didn't write a review for it.

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    1. I'm torn with this, Nana, because I feel constructive is a bonus, since the reviews should "technically" be for the readers. However, there is no need to be mean, regardless of what's being said.

      If I've read a book that had no good things to report, I still feel it's my duty to make other readers aware. They can still choose to read it, but I know I've warned them.

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  3. Definitely never engage with a reviewer - very good advice. I do think it is sad sometimes, however, when it seems as if newspapers/tv shows present reviewers with something they know they will hate just to see the vitriol come out.
    Tasha
    Tasha's Thinkings - AtoZ (Vampires)
    FB3X - AtoZ (Erotic Drabbles)

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    1. There is always someone who's out there simply to stir the pot. They live for the drama, and facts usually don't have a place in the equation.

      Thanks for the visit as well as the comment, Natasha! I'll be sure to pop over to your blog, since I haven't caught it yet.

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  4. Never, never, never engage a reviewer. That is all I am going to say about that. Ok I lied. Never engage a reviewer you will not win. You will either look like an a$$ or an idiot either way you lose.

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    1. I like your revised clause: you will not win. It matters not what you say or whether you're right. Engage = lose.

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    2. I love to use this excerpt from a review I received because it opens itself for a comment but I restrained myself. "...I even skipped a chapter and still knew what was going on.." then later in the review "...there was little to no foreshadowing of certain events they just happened..." so he skipped part of the book saying he still knew what was happening so they must have been fluff yet complains that there was no foreshadowing of certain parts. So even a review such as this gets no comment.

      You can find the entire review on Goodreads. If you are interested.

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    3. People like that fascinate me. Truly.

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  5. I've heard this before and I agree. No matter what the author says it come out BAD. Better to just let all the reviews stand on their own two legs and hope that the positive reviews exceed the negative ones.

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    1. Seriously. Even when authors get a good review and say, "Thank you," I've heard people say they feel like the author is stalking them. You just can't win. I think it's great when an author thanks people, but you can't please everyone.

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  6. But--what if they aren't being fair?! What if they missed my explanation or didn't understand what I was saying?! What if they're mean old stupid heads?!
    I'm totally kidding.

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    1. You know what Raymond would tell us. They're either stupid poopy heads or they're dead to us and have obviously never read what we've written.

      I think of The Princess Bride, and Vizzini..."Have you ever heard of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates? MORONS."

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  7. I totally agree with this, and never cease to be amazed at authors who ignore this advice. I tend not to review books that let me down somehow, or that left me feeling "meh" about it, simply because I know tastes vary. On the other hand, I'm more than happy to write a review for something I loved.

    Great topic for the A-Z challenge!

    Kat Sheridan with Sia McKye Over Coffee

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    1. I try very hard to differentiate between I book I just didn't care for and a book that's written poorly. I have done reviews where I've given four stars to a book I forced myself to finish but was written extremely well. I'll mention in my review that it wasn't my taste, but will make it clear it wasn't the writing.

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  8. I'll take the pictogram made up entirely of smiley faces. Yes, I will. So if they're idiots can't I at least give them a nice pat in the head with a hammer? No? lol

    I'm definitely with you on this one, as you very well know, never ever engage the reviewers. Ever. EVAH. That being said, I do appreciate them all, even if I don't tell them. (with words or hammer)

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    1. I found myself wishing that Blogger had emoticons, because I was seriously thinking of answering all comments today with pictures. Sigh...lost opportunities.

      I think appreciation that time was taken to read and review are good enough. Grinding your teeth and complaining to your BFF is a nice, private alternative.

      Delete
  9. Never engage a reviewer.
    Sometimes a review is a personal attack rather than a review of the book though. That's wrong.
    And, as I recently discovered, a reviewer can download the eBook, return it, and still write a review as a certified purchase.
    Or give a book a one star rating without reading.
    But again, don't engage. Not worth it.

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    1. I'm constantly amazed at the lengths people will go to when it comes to books, returning them after reading them, reviewing, etc.

      Hopefully, readers can distinguish between the real reviews and the personal attacks.

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  10. I'm with Alex on this one. Let it go even if you know the reviewer didn't actually read your book. I watched one such exchange between a writer and a reviewer. The writer looked very bad. The reviewer won hands down.

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    1. It doesn't seem to matter how much sense the author is making if someone is being a jerk. They still look like the bad guy.

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    2. Yep. We are on the defensive!

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  11. I agree. Let it go:) As diverse as people are in this world, so are their tastes. Not everyone is gong to love the book you just spent a zillion hours writing, editing and publishing:)

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    1. All they know is what they've read. Those zillion hours don't mean a thing to them, unfortunately.

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  12. A friend's book was reviewed by someone who admittedly only read half the book! If he'd read the whole thing, he would have seen that "missing" plot points he mentioned were eventually dealt with. But I warned her against defending her book and insulting his sloppy review. She took my advice. Hope your readers take yours.

    Sorry if the above makes for wobbly reading. Very tired today...

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    1. If I don't finish because the book is awful, I'll state that in my review. But if I just never get around to finishing because it's bored me or has not held my interest, there's no reason to be leaving a review. You're a good friend to have warned her, and she was smart to have listened.

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  13. Honestly I look at it like this. I write for the people who will enjoy my book. If a "bad" review happens to contain useful information I use it. If it does not I ignore it and move on with my life. The act of engaging people who don't like your product validates them.

    Brandon Ax: Writer's Storm

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    1. You're right! Sometimes people just want the validation that they got your attention.

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  14. I never respond to reviews, even if they're positive. I do believe reviews are for readers, not for authors.
    http://www.toriminard.com

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    1. That's what they're supposed to be, anyway, when all goes as it should, Tori.

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  15. Thanks for this, it was sweet and to the point. If we ever get any complaints from our reviews, we'll send them straight to this post. :)

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    1. Ha! I'm not sure whether to thank you or just start crying right away.

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  16. Don't tell anyone I said this, but your A - Z is the bestest.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Ha! Too late! I saw your post on S.K.'s blog today. :)

      You, my dear Janie, really are the bestest. No wonder Willy Dunne Wooters is hooked.

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  17. I think that's great advice...don't fight a reviewer....at least not out loud. I wouldn't be against having a massive fight with them inside your own head.

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    1. Oh, the mental knock-down, drag-outs are the best. I always win. With bonus points, even. :) And I end up making them eat the paper my words are written on just for the power trip.

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  18. I reckon what one reviewer finds exciting another might call boring. A multitude of specific ingredients will provoke an emotional reaction from readers, written in a certain way can lead to success or not. The challenge lies in producing a story derived from a clear cut entertaining formula.

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    1. It's the same way one person prefers Coke over Pepsi, or Chaucer over Shakespeare. Tastes vary, and to think everyone has to love what everyone writes is just unrealisitc.

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  19. Great advice! Just found this blog, now I'm going back to catch up for the month.
    Marlene at On Writing and Riding

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    1. Thank you, Marlene! I'll have to check yours as well. This month has been crazy with so many great blogs out there!

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  20. Very good advice. When I review books, I'm very happy to have an author tweet me and say thanks for the review, but I can't imagine a good outcome when an author engages a negative reviewer.

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    1. There simply is no good outcome, no matter how polite the author is, nor how accommodating.

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    1. It has been known to happen. This is one of those times I'm sure of it.

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    1. I only wish more people adhered to it.

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  23. Don't bother. If the readers like your books that is what matters the most :) More readers, more good reviews, nothing complicated, just pure human psychology :)

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    1. Yep and yep! I'd like to think most potential readers can spot the real good/bad reviews from the phony ones.

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  24. Well, at least some reviewers have paid. Others were given a free book for a review. *shrugs* It's definitely is a good idea NOT to engage reviewers. =)

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    1. True. Some of them only invest their time. Either way, though, the "do not engage" is still a good idea.

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  25. Why do you give this advice? I love authors arguing with me over their reviews. All i have to do is give them enough rope to hang themselves.

    Damn woman, your sensible advice spoils all my fun...

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    1. I must have been wearing my sensible shoes the day I wrote this post. I will admit to getting some serious entertainment out of watching the author v. reviewer fights on Goodreads. But I would never want to support those authors, so, entertaining or not, they won't get my business if they can't act professional.

      I can still indulge my guilty pleasure of watching you argue with them if they're foolish enough to take on someone with your logic and debating skills.

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    2. Ooooh, flattery.

      My wife doesn't agree with you, by the way. she says she's a better debater than I am. I dispute that, and I wear her down until she crumbles and tells me it's time to go to bed. Then, when we turn in and I want to read, she starts her unfair counter attack, until I have to get out my ball gag and shibari ropes to shut her up.

      Anyway, I'm glad my hard work at debating abusive authors provides you with such pleasure.

      Delete

I love comments, and will always answer them, partly because I like having the last word and partly because I just like getting to know the people who read my blog. (Note: if the post is more than a couple weeks old, your comment will automatically go into the "needs approval" folder, but I will still publish it and reply!)