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A ruthless murder and a stolen shipment of gold.

At school, sixteen-year-old Nikaia Wales endures the taunts of bullies who call her a “half-breed.” At home, she worries about how her family will react if she reveals her growing feelings for the quiet boy next door.

Those are soon the least of her troubles. Nikaia discovers a hidden cache of gold, and when police find a corpse nearby, her father becomes a suspect. Worse, Elias Doyle is circling, hungry to avenge his brother’s death.

Nikaia desperately searches for clues to save her father. In her quest to find the killer, she learns about the power of family, friendship, and young love....

Author Topic: Responding to reviews, are we missing a golden opportunity?  (Read 1498 times)  

Offline The Bass Bagwhan

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Responding to reviews, are we missing a golden opportunity?
« on: November 14, 2017, 04:19:34 AM »
So much about promoting ourselves in focused on engaging readers, creating conversations and building a fan base. The golden rule of never respomding to reviews seems to contradict this. I mean, that's seriously engaging with your readers, right?
Obviously, you don't want to end up in a slanging match with someone who declares your book is absolute rubbish, but could there be a benefit to responding to intelligent, considered reviews or simply thanking readers who post good reviews? It's so hard to connect with readers now. Why are we ignoring people who have something good to say? Or more important, ignoring the opportunity to discuss your books and ideas with readers?

You'd have to draw line. Refuse to be baited by bad or unkind reviews... or maybe always respond with a standard "I'm sorry you didn't like my book" and do nothing more. But I wonder if starting a conversation with reasonable reviewers might be worthwhile?
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Offline Donna White Glaser

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Re: Responding to reviews, are we missing a golden opportunity?
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2017, 04:38:46 AM »
The problem is readers don't come to the reviews as a way to engage with an author. It would be like jumping out of the bushes as the poor dears walk along a quiet path. Very disconcerting and stalkerish. They frighten easily. Best to just observe them from a distance and let them be.
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Re: Responding to reviews, are we missing a golden opportunity?
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2017, 04:45:51 AM »
The problem, as I see it, is that, while there are undoubtedly many readers who would welcome contact and be happy to begin a correspondence, there are also a lot who would NOT. And there's no way, really, to know who's who just by what they wrote in a review. You can't, for example, assume everyone who leaves positive comments would be happy to hear from you and everyone who leaves negative ratings would not. So every time you decide to comment on a review, you're risking upsetting someone -- they might just ignore you, but they might feel stalked or harassed. Or something in between. Even those who ignore, may now have a negative vibe about you. Obviously the opposite can happen, too, but it's widely understood that people who are NOT happy about something, will talk about it more than people who ARE happy.

And, of course, responding to a review isn't just going to be something that the reviewer sees -- it's also going to be seen by a whole bunch of prospective readers/customers. There is absolutely no way to predict how THEY will respond.

All that said, I'm not an author; I'm speaking purely as a reader/customer. I don't leave reviews very often on Amazon, though I do review almost everything I read on GoodReads, mostly just for me. When I do review on the Zon, I don't go back to look and see if people have voted it helpful or commented -- I said my piece and move on. On GR I do get a notification if someone has liked or commented. I don't really care, though. Reviews I put on GR get cross posted to FB and sometimes my FB friends will respond there, which sometimes results in a short discussion. I rarely have had the author respond; if I do I ignore it. I didn't write the review for him or her, I wrote it for myself to keep track of what I read and how I like it, and for my friends who know me and know their tastes in comparison to mine and can use the review to decide if it's something THEY'D like to read.

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Re: Responding to reviews, are we missing a golden opportunity?
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2017, 05:19:49 AM »
...stalkerish...

That pretty much covers it IMO. Well, that and desperate.

Customers/readers do not leave reviews in order to engage sellers/authors. If they want to engage, they will find the necessary contact me info and approach you that way.

Online Amanda M. Lee

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Re: Responding to reviews, are we missing a golden opportunity?
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2017, 05:29:41 AM »
Stalkerish is the most appropriate word. It puts people off.

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Re: Responding to reviews, are we missing a golden opportunity?
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2017, 05:37:24 AM »
If I read a review and see it's followed by a friendly chat with the author, it looks like they're pals and nullifies the review.

If I see an author hovers over reviews waiting for an opportunity to pounce, I'm not leaving a review because that's not a relationship I'm looking for.

This is all kinds of interfering with the number, quality, and validity of reviews, which sounds self-defeating to me.

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Re: Responding to reviews, are we missing a golden opportunity?
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2017, 05:41:48 AM »
I will review a book (rarely these days because Amazon kicks up if we do it to fellow authors) and then move on to the next book. I don't have time to get into conversations on a hundred different books and because I use my TR name on everything it could have a rebound effect that I might not want. I perversely feel that if I was to use another pseudonym for the reviews that it might be deemed improper or fraudulent  (I know, I know - stupido!) so I choose to review occasionally, but always 4-5 star things on Goodreads (which are themselves followed (and liked) by people who follow me). It's not a game I can get into and there is so much opportunity for s**t to fly that it's best left alone.


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Re: Responding to reviews, are we missing a golden opportunity?
« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2017, 06:05:39 AM »
Yeah, I agree with the above. A review isn't an invitation to engage. I will engage with reviewers if they reach out to me directly, but not otherwise.

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Re: Responding to reviews, are we missing a golden opportunity?
« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2017, 06:26:25 AM »
The problem is readers don't come to the reviews as a way to engage with an author. It would be like jumping out of the bushes as the poor dears walk along a quiet path. Very disconcerting and stalkerish. They frighten easily. Best to just observe them from a distance and let them be.

A perfect analogy!


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Re: Responding to reviews, are we missing a golden opportunity?
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2017, 06:32:04 AM »
So much about promoting ourselves in focused on engaging readers, creating conversations and building a fan base. The golden rule of never respomding to reviews seems to contradict this. I mean, that's seriously engaging with your readers, right?
Obviously, you don't want to end up in a slanging match with someone who declares your book is absolute rubbish, but could there be a benefit to responding to intelligent, considered reviews or simply thanking readers who post good reviews? It's so hard to connect with readers now. Why are we ignoring people who have something good to say? Or more important, ignoring the opportunity to discuss your books and ideas with readers?

You'd have to draw line. Refuse to be baited by bad or unkind reviews... or maybe always respond with a standard "I'm sorry you didn't like my book" and do nothing more. But I wonder if starting a conversation with reasonable reviewers might be worthwhile?

You made me stop and think...but I think the distinction here is permission. Though we give people the permission to review a book by publishing it, we have not in return been given the permission to engage in conversation. This differs from those on our email list, our social media following etc. In fact, it's on the latter platforms that I do feel free to thank someone or discuss a review.
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Re: Responding to reviews, are we missing a golden opportunity?
« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2017, 06:33:18 AM »
To me as a reader, an author commenting on my review would be just as unwelcome as those smarmy hotel replies on Yelp that start "We're sorry you had an unfortunate experience..."--that really aren't about my experience at all but are meant to get other customers to book into their so-so hotel.

I also vehemently dispute the idea that all authors should become buddy-buddy with their readers.

Offline Laran Mithras

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Re: Responding to reviews, are we missing a golden opportunity?
« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2017, 06:34:17 AM »
I used to respond nicely to some reviews - I have pretty much stopped all comments. I only break the no-comment rule if they ask a direct question that begs an answer.

Otherwise, I find it more sane to simply note my email contact in my bio for those who want something more.

Negative reviews are a 99.9% no-no. The only exceptions I make there is when a reviewer has obviously reviewed the wrong book. I had one romance book where the reviewer left a blistering rant about M/M sex when the book didn't have any in it. I politely asked if he was reviewing the right book as the book had none. I didn't particularly care if the reviewer found he did or not - I did it to alert potential readers who might believe my book had it in it.

Unfortunately, Amazon appears to be blocking the notification that a review has comments on the product page. One has to click the review to see if there are, in fact, any comments. The product page now shows nothing.

I think Amazon is moving towards making reviews more meaningful without accountability. Seems odd, but that's what it looks like.
 

Offline EB

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Re: Responding to reviews, are we missing a golden opportunity?
« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2017, 07:25:39 AM »
Customers/readers do not leave reviews in order to engage sellers/authors. If they want to engage, they will find the necessary contact me info and approach you that way.

This ^^, 100%.
Let readers make the choice to contact you.
The massive number of negatives outweigh the scarce potential positives when making a habit of responding to reviews.

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Re: Responding to reviews, are we missing a golden opportunity?
« Reply #13 on: November 14, 2017, 07:38:47 AM »
I'm easy to find on social media. If a reader wants to engage, it is easy for them to do so.

If I wrote a review on a site like Amazon, and the author responded there, I wouldn't like it. I don't review often, but when I do, the review is my opinion and meant more for other readers who might be of the same mind than the author. If I want to engage the author, I'll tag them on social media.

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Re: Responding to reviews, are we missing a golden opportunity?
« Reply #14 on: November 14, 2017, 08:13:57 AM »
But I wonder if starting a conversation with reasonable reviewers might be worthwhile?

No. It's creepy and weird.

As a consumer I want to leave my review and have that be the end of it.

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Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: Responding to reviews, are we missing a golden opportunity?
« Reply #15 on: November 14, 2017, 08:19:45 AM »
Let's put it this way,

Abusive and stalkerish author behavior got so bad that, at one point (I don't know if they still do) Goodreads blasted a huge, red, WARNING to authors who were about to respond to reviews of their books. Because folks at Goodreads were actively complaining about authors jumping into those conversations about their reviews.

Many readers have stopped reviewing books altogether because of not only hyper-aggressive authors, but those authors FANS.

There are better uses of your time than stalking reviewers on Amazon.  :o

Unless a reviewer seems to explicitly be asking for help or there is some technical issue I can assist with, I don't respond. I rarely respond to reviews unless it is a technical issue. I went back and looked and realized I had uploaded the wrong file. So I uploaded the correct, compressed file and then responded to the review to let the reviewer know I had fixed the problem. The other was a complaint that a supplement about NPCs didn't include maps. I had classified the supplement under the correct category, but somehow it had gotten cross-posted to the wrong category. I apologized to the reviewer and alerted the vendor, who corrected the problem. But those were technical issues that, as a producer, I have an obligation to address. They weren't "This product sux" reviews where I felt the need to get into an argument or "OMG Best product evar!" reviews that I wanted to glow in.


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Offline Puddleduck

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Re: Responding to reviews, are we missing a golden opportunity?
« Reply #16 on: November 14, 2017, 08:27:35 AM »
Many readers have stopped reviewing books altogether because of not only hyper-aggressive authors, but those authors FANS.

Yeah, I can totally understand that. I left a review on Amazon for a book that I was underwhelmed by but had enjoyed the rest of the series to that point. Some person came on and wanted to argue with me about it, and not in a very polite or thoughtful way. I actually exchanged a few comments to clarify my (rather short) review, but it became clear this was some weird uber-fan who didn't want to actually respond to any of the points I was making but just shout assumptions about how I was too stupid and shallow to appreciate the book or something, and eventually I just turned off alerts for that review so Amazon would stop e-mailing me when the person responded.

It would not take many experiences like that to put me off reviewing altogether.

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Re: Responding to reviews, are we missing a golden opportunity?
« Reply #17 on: November 14, 2017, 08:45:42 AM »
Yeah, I can totally understand that. I left a review on Amazon for a book that I was underwhelmed by but had enjoyed the rest of the series to that point. Some person came on and wanted to argue with me about it, and not in a very polite or thoughtful way. I actually exchanged a few comments to clarify my (rather short) review, but it became clear this was some weird uber-fan who didn't want to actually respond to any of the points I was making but just shout assumptions about how I was too stupid and shallow to appreciate the book or something, and eventually I just turned off alerts for that review so Amazon would stop e-mailing me when the person responded.

It would not take many experiences like that to put me off reviewing altogether.
I have gotten a few of those, one of the reasons I have pretty much stopped reviewing. I used to get hit by downvote mobs from author fans. Authors would go on facebook and whine about what they consider a low review and send their pack over. Then they would start commenting and arguing how I just didn't "get" this or that. It also happens on goodreads. At least there, if I want to I have control over that review comment and can wipe it off if they annoy my enough. I haven't yet, because I like other readers to see it when an author and/or their super fans make them look like fools.

Just a few weeks ago, I got a couple of fans come into one of my reviews on goodreads. Its 5 years old for crying out loud. One of the peeps I am friends with had commented and agreed with the things I didn't like about the book. Mind you, it was a 3 star, which is still I liked it. Yet these super fans suddenly popped up,  thought it useful to come in and "splain" stuff to me. After 5 years. I have had authors come into my reviews with passive aggressive comments about again, 3 star reviews. Some think if you don't give them 4 or 5's, they must explain something, or I guess want me to explain why I didn't "get" it.

This particular author from a few weeks ago has a lot of those super fans. Its pretty what I remember most now, every time I see the authors name or their books. I have not read one of their book since, as I had noticed after I read the first that the author and/or superfans get all over the reviews they don't like and "splain" things.

Its one thing for me to have a interesting convo with another reader about a book we both read. And its just as interesting if we didn't enjoy it the same way. Its very different to have authors and super fans with agenda's coming in to "discuss" the book. When I am being picked out because either my review can be used for their marketing, or because I am somehow a stain on their marketing. I do not like being used like that to be honest.

All of this is why I prefer to just talk about books I read with other readers like here in the book corner. At least I am not looked at as a constant potential marketing vehicle, but a reader.

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Offline thevoiceofone

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Re: Responding to reviews, are we missing a golden opportunity?
« Reply #18 on: November 14, 2017, 08:48:43 AM »
So much about promoting ourselves in focused on engaging readers, creating conversations and building a fan base. The golden rule of never respomding to reviews seems to contradict this. I mean, that's seriously engaging with your readers, right?
Obviously, you don't want to end up in a slanging match with someone who declares your book is absolute rubbish, but could there be a benefit to responding to intelligent, considered reviews or simply thanking readers who post good reviews? It's so hard to connect with readers now. Why are we ignoring people who have something good to say? Or more important, ignoring the opportunity to discuss your books and ideas with readers?

You'd have to draw line. Refuse to be baited by bad or unkind reviews... or maybe always respond with a standard "I'm sorry you didn't like my book" and do nothing more. But I wonder if starting a conversation with reasonable reviewers might be worthwhile?

Don't respond. As much as I would like to it's not worth it.

We all know there are genuine people who won't like your book, then there are jealous authors who leave reviews but hide their name.

You will only incite them to do it the more.

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Re: Responding to reviews, are we missing a golden opportunity?
« Reply #19 on: November 14, 2017, 10:54:01 AM »
The problem is readers don't come to the reviews as a way to engage with an author. It would be like jumping out of the bushes as the poor dears walk along a quiet path. Very disconcerting and stalkerish. They frighten easily. Best to just observe them from a distance and let them be.

Exactly. When I want to know more about an author (as I often do) I go to their web page or facebook page. Having them respond to a review would really put me off. And I'm someone who DOES like to engage with authors. Many readers I know don't.

Offline The Bass Bagwhan

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Re: Responding to reviews, are we missing a golden opportunity?
« Reply #20 on: November 14, 2017, 04:22:53 PM »
Well, you've all certainly stopped me thinking any further along the lines about that:) But I'm glad I started the discussion, because I wouldn't have considered the rationale put forward by many of the replies here. I was regarding reviewers who write sensible reviews in a different light - mostly because I'm enjoying a good relationship with many of my audiobook reviewers - but the experience (and experiences) here gives me a totally different view towards ebook readers/reviewers.

And it didn't occur to me at all that an author getting involved in reviews of their own books might trigger Amazon to push a Big Red Button somewhere.

The exception might be, as someone suggests, addressing technical or production issues a reader discovers - and that doesnt mean arguing over grammar and spelling!

Concept firmly in the trash bin. Thanks everyone.
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Offline Jack Krenneck

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Re: Responding to reviews, are we missing a golden opportunity?
« Reply #21 on: November 14, 2017, 04:54:26 PM »
Are we missing a golden opportunity? Could be.

The publishing world has changed. The indie publishing world has changed, and will keep on changing. As with everything about this business, it's rarely a case of yes or no. It's all about execution. There are ways to make it work and ways where it would blow up in your face, big time. It's all about the execution rather than following a one rule fits all scenario.

I have seen highly successful indie authors enage customers in reviews. But by and large, it's an untapped engagement opportunity.

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Re: Responding to reviews, are we missing a golden opportunity?
« Reply #22 on: November 14, 2017, 07:35:06 PM »
I leave reviews and rarely go back to see if anyone left comments and I don't have email turned on to tell me if they did.

I always figured authors were too busy writing to deal with fans except in a restricted fashion like on their web site or social media. I have contacted one or two to tell them great job, but in general I try not to disturb.

Offline DarkScribe

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Re: Responding to reviews, are we missing a golden opportunity?
« Reply #23 on: November 14, 2017, 08:12:54 PM »
So much about promoting ourselves in focused on engaging readers, creating conversations and building a fan base. The golden rule of never respomding to reviews seems to contradict this. I mean, that's seriously engaging with your readers, right?
Obviously, you don't want to end up in a slanging match with someone who declares your book is absolute rubbish, but could there be a benefit to responding to intelligent, considered reviews or simply thanking readers who post good reviews? It's so hard to connect with readers now. Why are we ignoring people who have something good to say? Or more important, ignoring the opportunity to discuss your books and ideas with readers?

You'd have to draw line. Refuse to be baited by bad or unkind reviews... or maybe always respond with a standard "I'm sorry you didn't like my book" and do nothing more. But I wonder if starting a conversation with reasonable reviewers might be worthwhile?

Not a good idea in my opinion. I only review exceptional books, exceptionally good, or exceptionally bad. On those occasions when a writer or a "pal" of a writer has responded, it draws attention. If a writer takes exception to my review, I will elaborate, go into detail with quotes from his/her book that support my stance. Sometimes in such cases the comments and responses to comments can reach twenty or thirty and that has to get potential purchasers (who otherwise might have skipped past) curious enough to read through them.

Once a well known writer's publisher, someone I know, but who didn't recognise my pseudonym, emailed me with an offer of access to a wide range of free bestsellers if I would remove or modify my review. I bumped into her in Frankfurt last month and wound her up about it. She was embarrassed.

Offline RaeC

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Re: Responding to reviews, are we missing a golden opportunity?
« Reply #24 on: November 14, 2017, 08:20:30 PM »
I cringe every time I see author responses to reviews, even if it's a "Thank you". As a reader, I don't like the feeling of that person looking over my shoulder. As a writer, I find it a tad unprofessional, a waste of time, and desperate.

I might be in the minority here, but I even hate to see unsolicited author responses to articles or blogs. It's the same uneasiness I get when I'm on a message board with an over-active mod. There's a subconscious impulse to suddenly censor myself in a space I thought to be safe.

The writer inherently has the power in these types of exchanges. The only way that changes is if there's a mob of reviewers/commenters. By that time, you have a mess on your hand that could've been avoided.

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Re: Responding to reviews, are we missing a golden opportunity?
« Reply #25 on: November 14, 2017, 10:44:45 PM »
One thing that's never mentioned in these review threads is that some of our nasty reviews come from other authors.

Everybody pretends that reviews all come from readers and that there's some magical protocol for dealing with them lest the putative "readers" be offended.

I'm not saying to respond to them.  Just don't think there is some big divide between readers and authors/publishers when it comes to reviews.




edited; PM if you have questions -- Ann


« Last Edit: November 15, 2017, 04:07:08 AM by Ann in Arlington »

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Re: Responding to reviews, are we missing a golden opportunity?
« Reply #26 on: November 15, 2017, 05:23:14 AM »
Non-fiction author Gary Vaynerchuk prides himself on responding to negative reviews. He thinks it's good customer service. Not something I would ever do myself, but he's certainly very successful at what he does.

Here's a comment of his from a negative review on Amazon of Jab, Jab, Right Hook:

Linds super sad u didnt find value in the book, I am worried about the terms of service statement, I think we see something different and I am curious what it is based on y respect for you so....

#1 Sorry I let u down

#2 If u ever get a chance ( i am sure u are busy and have better things to do ) ping me on what you mean by that because I am baffled by your statement



On another note:

About a year ago I bought a book from an author who I have seen here on KBoards. After I read the book (which I enjoyed), I looked at some of the reviews on Goodreads. The author had not other responded to a negative review, but actually got into a back-and-forth with the reviewer.

I thought to myself, "Wow, if I had seen this before I bought their book, I never would have bought it."

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Re: Responding to reviews, are we missing a golden opportunity?
« Reply #27 on: November 15, 2017, 06:13:58 AM »
Linds super sad u didnt find value in the book, I am worried about the terms of service statement, I think we see something different and I am curious what it is based on y respect for you so....

#1 Sorry I let u down

#2 If u ever get a chance ( i am sure u are busy and have better things to do ) ping me on what you mean by that because I am baffled by your statement


If an author can't be bothered to spell out "you," put apostrophes in contractions, use other punctuation correctly, or capitalize "I" when posting in response to a reader on a sales page for a book he's written, that doesn't inspire confidence in his writing ability.

I've changed my mind. Anyone who wants to respond to reviews should go for it. I spend far too much money on books, and every extra bit of information that knocks a book out of the running is a blessing for my budget.

Offline The Bass Bagwhan

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    • Graeme Hague
Re: Responding to reviews, are we missing a golden opportunity?
« Reply #28 on: November 15, 2017, 04:47:37 PM »
If an author can't be bothered to spell out "you," put apostrophes in contractions, use other punctuation correctly, or capitalize "I" when posting in response to a reader on a sales page for a book he's written, that doesn't inspire confidence in his writing ability.

I've changed my mind. Anyone who wants to respond to reviews should go for it. I spend far too much money on books, and every extra bit of information that knocks a book out of the running is a blessing for my budget.

Yes, I get really annoyed by "textspeak" writing. I would respond to an author's reply written like this and it wouldn't be pretty...

But it's interesting, as you point out, that he tries to pour oil on those troubled waters.
Author, freelance writer and editor, professional musician, recording engineer... published in Australia, the UK and Germany. So why am I poor? Oh, wait...
I'll be a writer... seemed like a good idea at the time

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