A friend of mine, a librarian and blogger and reviewer, has had a handful of authors attack her because she wrote what they considered to be bad reviews of their books.1 She did not enjoy it.
This is not an isolated incident. Reviewers have had authors dummy spit2 at them, sic their fans on them, and generally make them wonder why they’re bothering to write reviews.
What can bloggers do when wrathful authors and their hordes descend up on them?
Here’s what my friend did. She took down those reviews. Good idea.
What these authors don’t realise is that their worst enemy is not critical reviews; it’s obscurity. No reviews is way, way, way worse than bad reviews.
Someone hates your book? That’s a good thing because it means they actually read it. (Even better you got a passionate response!) No one reading it. No responses? That’s the fast track to out of print and gone and forgotten.
That’s what I fear: not being able to sell my books because I have no audience. I do not fear people hating my books. Jane Austen is hated. Every writer I love is hated. It’s a feature, not a bug!3
So here’s my advice: if an author has a go at you for a less than gushing review of their book—take it down. And if it’s possible leave a polite note explaining why. Something like:
This space was occupied by a review of X by Cranky Author. Cranky Author was incensed by the review so I have removed it and will no longer review anything by Cranky Author.
See? Everyone’s happy. Cranky Author’s eyeballs are no longer assailed by your shocking blindness to their genius.4 You don’t have to deal with their crankiness.
And maybe if everyone does this, those authors—and fortunately they are small in number—will get the message and knock it off.
As a general rule, authors, do not respond to reviews.5 They’re not for you, they’re for readers. And especially do not attack the authors of those reviews! Leave reviewers alone!
- Mostly, of course, these were not bad reviews but more like three-star, has-some-good-points-has-some-bad-points kind of reviews. [↩]
- USians: look it up! You are online. You can find out the meaning of any unfamiliar word or phrase in heartbeat. Embrace this gorgeous future we live in. [↩]
- Hell, I even have favourite bad reviews of my books. I have quite the collection for Liar. Wow, do the people who hate it REALLY hate it. It’s also, so far, my best-selling novel. Take from that what you will. [↩]
- Not unless they go hunting down the cache. [↩]
- If you must respond do it generally in a post on your own blog. [↩]