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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Having only published my first novel a month ago, I have been positively giddy over the reviews it has garnered (all but one of them 5 stars and with very glowing commentary). Today, though, I got a much less kind review (3 stars) that included some complaints that I don't understand or can't agree with. What's funny is my emotional reaction to one out of 15 reviews seems totally out of proportion to both the "negative" aspects of the critique and the harm I feel it may have done. Truth is, the review wasn't totally awful, just not complimentary. How do you all deal with the emotional disturbance of people not treating you like the super star you know you are? (That was mildly tongue-in-cheek...). How much harm does one mediocre review do to a book with so few total reviews? Unfortunately, because I published with BookBaby, I have no access to sales figures to follow trends prior to and after reviews. Worried now about being a worry-wart. Oh, the irony.
 

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Ha! Welcome to the club! :) My general strategy is to simply ponder all the negative reviews received by a favourite or successful writer, and shrug. If I think they had a good point or three, I may wince and put it on my mental 'things to fix' or 'things to consider changing' list.
 

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I don't think it will harm your sales, especially since you have so many positive reviews. Some authors have reported better sales after getting a 1-star review - go figure. :) The same might be true for a 3-star: it adds credibility as readers see a range of opinions, not only positive reviews.
 

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You responded to the review?!? A long, defensive response?!?  :eek:

(Anyone here think that was a good move?)

That's just Don't #1 on how to handle a review.
 

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MichelleR said:
You responded to the review?!? A long, defensive response?!? :eek:

(Anyone here think that was a good move?)

That's just Don't #1 on how to handle a review.
The only response that is suggested for a negative review (no response is suggested first, naturally) is to simply thank the reviewer.

I don't need to tell you that though. Authors who respond to negative reviews with long, defensive posts are not looked well upon.
 

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MichelleR said:
You responded to the review?!? A long, defensive response?!? :eek:

(Anyone here think that was a good move?)

That's just Don't #1 on how to handle a review.
Ehhh... didn't strike me as overly defensive. Regardless, I'd agree that commenting on a review which hit a sore spot or two is a dicey move. Might actually pay off positively, though - or it might not.
 

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Your book is your baby.. No one messes with your child.

There's the nutshell version of why you feel the way you do.

now the commiseration. Grab your favorite stiff drink, your S.O. or BFF.. and get blotto. :)
 

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nomesque said:
Ehhh... didn't strike me as overly defensive.
I've seen more defensive responses, it's true, but it still reads that way by its very existence -- the choice to discuss the reviewer's issues, one by one. No one ever knows for sure how these things will play, but as a reviewer, I wouldn't touch this guy. If I were just a casual reader, I'd be even more likely to think it's not worth it. He's also in danger of turning off readers, who are in my experience more likely to see the reviewer as on their side and another reader. I've never seen it turn out well when readers think a writer is telling a fairly respectful reviewer where they got it all wrong, which he did by implication. Not to mention the possible perception he's suppressing negative reviews.
 

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Just look at the negative points and see if you can tweak anything suggested, but I wouldn't do anything unless a few other people mentioned the same point.

@ Michelle, I didn't find the response defensive at all.  ???
 

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Mel Comley said:
@ Michelle, I didn't find the response defensive at all. ???
I accept I may have overstated that, but I don't think a writer can write that and have it not be out of a need to defend his story. At least, I've never wanted to respond to something someone said at that level about something I'd created without feeling that emotion.

Even removing that word, I still think it was the wrong decision.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
MichelleR said:
You responded to the review?!? A long, defensive response?!? :eek:

(Anyone here think that was a good move?)

That's just Don't #1 on how to handle a review.
I did respond, but only after I read twenty other reviews by the same critic, and saw that many authors had responded to her, and she responded back with reasonable give and take. I don't think I was particularly defensive, BTW...I did tell her I thought she had some valid points, and would make some changes in the future.
 

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So, at the risk of alienating all the potential readers who will not read a book where the author attempts to "correct" a reviewer's perception, you decided to go ahead and explain to her where her perception of your book was incorrect?

Huh. Okay then.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
MichelleR said:
You responded to the review?!? A long, defensive response?!? :eek:

(Anyone here think that was a good move?)

That's just Don't #1 on how to handle a review.
I guess I somehow missed reading the rules...where can I find the material on how to deal with reviews?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
StaceyHH said:
So, at the risk of alienating all the potential readers who will not read a book where the author attempts to "correct" a reviewer's perception, you decided to go ahead and explain to her where her perception of your book was incorrect?

Huh. Okay then.
Evidently, you think I did a bad thing too. Duly noted.
 

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MichelleR said:
I've seen more defensive responses, it's true, but it still reads that way by its very existence -- the choice to discuss the reviewer's issues, one by one.
I quite liked, though, Daniel's acknowledgments that his writing could be at fault in the reader not thoroughly enjoying the book. I can't see any sensible person getting offended by that. This is a commercial transaction, after all, and addressing a public complaint publicly, without animosity, is hardly 100% bad business.

I probably should point out that I adhere to the exact opposite position in action - I very very rarely respond to reviews, on the grounds that reviews are primarily for readers, not authors, and I don't like to impose myself onto the process. I did respond to one a couple of weeks ago, and I think that's the only one this year... and maybe last year too. :)
 

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DanoJ said:
I did respond, but only after I read twenty other reviews by the same critic, and saw that many authors had responded to her, and she responded back with reasonable give and take. I don't think I was particularly defensive, BTW...I did tell her I thought she had some valid points, and would make some changes in the future.
Okay, it's your career and you have to play it your way.

I am telling you with all sincerity that I understand how you feel. It is always going to hurt some when you do your best and your best doesn't work for some people. Reviews are subjective, but that doesn't mean that sometimes reviewers aren't still in the minority, and when you read a review that seems off or unfair, you will want to express that. Please know I get all of that.

This is the gig though. There will be other three star reviews -- which, depending, can still be a recommendation -- and, I'm sorry, but if you continue there will be one and two star reviews too. Do you really want to be the guy with the reputation of making yourself known to every reviewer who is critical? Even if this person is good with it?

People here always advise chocolate. I advise moaning about it to your nearest and dearest and then taking the dog for a long walk and leaving your anger in a field somewhere, or along a hiking trail.
 

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MichelleR said:
I've seen more defensive responses, it's true, but it still reads that way by its very existence -- the choice to discuss the reviewer's issues, one by one. No one ever knows for sure how these things will play, but as a reviewer, I wouldn't touch this guy. If I were just a casual reader, I'd be even more likely to think it's not worth it. He's also in danger of turning off readers, who are in my experience more likely to see the reviewer as on their side and another reader. I've never seen it turn out well when readers think a writer is telling a fairly respectful reviewer where they got it all wrong, which he did by implication. Not to mention the possible perception he's suppressing negative reviews.
Personally, I'm going to have to agree with Michelle on this one. If I read this review, I probably would be afraid to leave my own feelings and comments on the book because of what the author might say (Even if the majority of the review was positive). In all honesty, I probably wouldn't pick it up at all. The ending of the commentary, where you thank the reviewer was great, but if I was the reviewer, I would feel extremely put-off. And possibly offended that the author felt like my critiques were "fascinating" and "interesting"... it kind of seems a little condescending in its own way. Like I just didn't "get" it. =/ All personal opinion though, and that's just how I would have felt.

That being said, I don't think 1 "bad" review will do much, if any damage. The reader did give you 3 stars, which is by no means an awful rating. I'm sorry the review didn't sit well with you, though :( It is definitely difficult to take criticism about something you are so passionate about! But take solace in knowing that so many people HAVE enjoyed it. Even the greats, such as Hemmingway and Edgar Allen Poe, had critics. Unfortunately, we can't win 'em all, but you are in great company, my friend! :]
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
nomesque said:
I quite liked, though, Daniel's acknowledgments that his writing could be at fault in the reader not thoroughly enjoying the book. I can't see any sensible person getting offended by that. This is a commercial transaction, after all, and addressing a public complaint publicly, without animosity, is hardly 100% bad business.

I probably should point out that I adhere to the exact opposite position in action - I very very rarely respond to reviews, on the grounds that reviews are primarily for readers, not authors, and I don't like to impose myself onto the process. I did respond to one a couple of weeks ago, and I think that's the only one this year... and maybe last year too. :)
Thanks for that...I was starting to feel a bit stupid, both for responding to the review, and for seeking advice here!
 
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