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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know I have been blessed by the reviews I've had on my first book - they exceeded anything I dreamed about when I initially released the book.

Today, I received my first one or two star review, and I decided to comment on it.

Here's the complete review:

Would have been a great read for a teenager or a little older. I kept waiting for so much more. I found a discrepancy in the book that didn't sit well with me on a writing level.

I absolutely don't mind that she gave the book two stars, or that she found the book wanting. I don't even mind that she found a discrepancy somewhere in the book. However, it felt odd that she would say that and then not add what that discrepancy was. It felt like vagueposting on Facebook, where someone posts "Don't you hate people that you treat like family and then stab you in your back" and then never explain what they mean. So, I left this comment:

First, thanks so much for reading the book and I'm sorry it was disappointing to you. As a general rule, I don't respond to reviews, good or bad, but your mysterious comment enticed me to ask: What was the discrepancy that bothered you?

I understand if you don't want to respond, but if you do, my email is just my name @gmail.com. If there's something I can do to make future books better, I am interested.

Thanks again for reading the book. I really do appreciate it.


What do you think? Was that a mistake? I freely admit I did it out of curiosity more than anything. I don't have a clue what this mysterious discrepancy is.
 

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I think that was perfectly fine … if I saw that as a reader I would think "What a wonderful author - wants to make the book better!" 

The review could improve sales if readers are intrigued enough about the discrepancy.  If it does we might all want a review like that ;)
 

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Your response is perfect. I like the way you have expressed appreciation for her reading your book. I think, no matter what a reader might say about a book in a review, the action of reading it is a compliment. Your reviewer certainly did leave a teaser that needs to be clarified. Had you not done so, other readers would probably have picked her up on it and challenged her. I sometimes read the comments left for the reviewers of my books and people are not backward in coming forward when they think a reviewer has written something inappropriate.

Congratulations, by the way, on what looks like a very successful book with lots of reviews - 92 reviews in only a few months. That's spectacular! JB  :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for putting my mind at ease a bit.

I know I've been lucky with my reviews up to this point, and I attribute it to two things: 1) It is a very personal story that some people will bond with and want to write a review when they normally wouldn't, and 2) I'm not shy about asking for reviews. Virtually every person that messages my blog or finds me on Facebook, I ask them if they mind writing an honest review.

 

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I thought it was a great comment. I responded to a 5-star review several months ago to thank the reader for pointing out a typo so I could fix it. I don't think you were out of line at all.
 

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Shawn Inmon said:
What do you think? Was that a mistake? I freely admit I did it out of curiosity more than anything. I don't have a clue what this mysterious discrepancy is.
Seems like a fair response to me. However, you won't know if it was a mistake to respond until you find out how the reviewer reacts to your comment. You'll either be "a stalker" or "a responsive author." :-\
 

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I would probably just let the whole thing lie. Here follows some wisdom from those of us that have come before:

“A critic can only review the book he has read, not the one which the writer wrote.”
― Mignon McLaughlin

“You know reviewers, they are the wind in their own sails. ”
― Barbara Kingsolver

“If we wear our worst reviews like a backpack, they travel with us.”
― Jennifer Love Hewitt

“Nature fits all her children with something to do, he who would write and can't write, can surely review.”
― James Russell Lowell

I am sitting in the smallest room of my house. I have your review before me. In a moment it will be behind me.

― Max Reger

“Unless a reviewer has the courage to give you unqualified praise, I say ignore the bastard.”
― John Steinbeck
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
DRMarvello said:
Seems like a fair response to me. However, you won't know if it was a mistake to respond until you find out how the reviewer reacts to your comment. You'll either be "a stalker" or "a responsive author." :-\
Yes, this is the risk I was feeling before I hit "respond."

I like to play Texas Hold 'Em, where the goal is often to determine what is in the other player's hands with limited information. Sometimes I get so befuddled during a hand that I have to make a call just to see what the heck the other player had. Those are not my finest moments as a poker player and I realize this is probably not either.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
strath said:
I am sitting in the smallest room of my house. I have your review before me. In a moment it will be behind me.
"
― Max Reger
I don't know why, I always associated this quote with Roger Ebert.

It was kind of a kick, by the way to see J-Love in there with the other luminaries, by the way.
 

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Shawn Inmon said:
Those are not my finest moments as a poker player and I realize this is probably not either.
I trust my gut on these things and don't respond. However, I wouldn't worry too much about it if I were you. We have a few authors here on KB who respond to reviews regularly and swear by it. Your response was friendly and professional, so just as the review says something about the reviewer, your response said something about you.

However, if you were left with "commenter's remorse," you may want to rethink the strategy for the future. No sense adding more stress to your life! ;)
 

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strath said:
I would probably just let the whole thing lie. Here follows some wisdom from those of us that have come before:

"A critic can only review the book he has read, not the one which the writer wrote."
― Mignon McLaughlin

"You know reviewers, they are the wind in their own sails. "
― Barbara Kingsolver

"If we wear our worst reviews like a backpack, they travel with us."
― Jennifer Love Hewitt

"Nature fits all her children with something to do, he who would write and can't write, can surely review."
― James Russell Lowell

I am sitting in the smallest room of my house. I have your review before me. In a moment it will be behind me.
"
― Max Reger

"Unless a reviewer has the courage to give you unqualified praise, I say ignore the bastard."
― John Steinbeck
And this one:

"Those who can't write, review; and those who can't review, review discrepancies (vaguely)."
-- Woody Allen
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Terrence OBrien said:
Your response was reasonable. Well done.
Thank you, Terrence, and I wanted to let you know I started The Templar Concordat last night. I am enjoying it very much.
 

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I think your answer to the review was very nice and respectful to the reviewer.  The review was vague and you just wanted clarification.  You have to be very careful though.  I responded to one review and several people piled in to rudely berate me for making a comment.   

Recently I've had two three star reviews by people who hadn't even read my book.  They bought it and evidently Amazon sent emails to them asking for a review.  They felt they had to respond, so I had two reviews with comments like, "I haven't read the book but it sounded good and was easy to download."  I hope Amazon stops asking people prematurely for reviews.
 

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I think your response was fine.

i know this is a risky comment. But I say, within the bounds of not being a psycho, do what you feel.

Personally, I usually thank reviewers for taking the time to read my book and provide feedback. I honestly do feel gratitude because people spent their precious time and hard=earned money on my books.

I did once make a light hearted and somewhat joking remark on a bad review. I just cannot take myself that seriously I guess. I never got a response back, but did get few "likes" on the remark.

As another board poster noted, you will be less concerned about a mean spirited remark than you are now as you worry about it happening in the future. I guess you could compare it to the first time you ding your new car. It is just not that bad.

I just think of responses like the bonus tracks on a DVD.

 

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My policy is to never respond to any publicly posted review for any reason. It has completely eliminated all the angst of wondering if I should respond and how (yay!), and instead replaced it with wishing my policy weren't so darn absolute (boo!). If you read reviews, you're always going to feel like you need to defend yourself. If you don't read them at all, you're always going to wonder what you're missing.

Whatever you do, be tactful and open-minded (which you were). How the reviewer responds is more a reflection of them than of you.
 
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