Friday, January 6, 2012

Authors and Negative Reviews, re-posted

I wrote this post awhile back, when the same kind of drama was going around the blogging world. It has been suggested that I re-post it again, not to point fingers or condemn or call anyone out, but just as a quiet reminder to anyone who has gotten negative reviews. What is the best way to deal with them? In my humble opinion, well, read on...


Authors and Negative Reviews


It seems there has been a lot of drama going around the blogging world lately.

Normally, I don't post about heated topics. I'm highly allergic to drama and angst (Except in stories, of course), and I learned long ago that you really can't change people's minds about anything, so why point that spotlight on yourself? But, in light of the recent author/blogger drama on twitter and facebook, I felt compelled to add my two cents to the mix. So, this is my own opinion, garnered from the years I've spent as a writing professional, on Authors and Negative Reviews. Future authors and writers, this is especially for you, not to scare or scold or threaten, but just as a gentle caution of what to expect.

NOT EVERYONE WILL LIKE YOUR BOOK. This is a certainty. No matter how compelling, no matter how innovative or brilliant or well-written, no book can please everyone one hundred percent. If you don't believe me, find your favorite book or author and check them out on Goodreads. They will have 1 and 2 star reviews, just like everyone else. Some people will adore your book, some people will just think its okay, and some people will loathe it and want to burn it and scour your name from the face of the earth for writing such garbage. And it's okay for them to think that. They are entitled to their opinion. Really, that's all a review IS: an opinion. Which brings us to the heart of this matter...

YOU ARE GOING TO GET NEGATIVE REVIEWS. If you are an author, and you put your book out there for the world to read, you are going to get bad reviews. Sometimes, the review will be thoughtful and well-done, with the reviewer citing what they liked and didn't like about the story. That's the best kind of negative review, but it doesn't always happen that way. Sometimes the review will be snide and hateful, as if the reader despises you personally and says all kinds of ugly, unkind things about the story you've put your heart and soul into. Its amazing the things people will say on the internet that they wouldn't dare say in real life, but it happens. This is why many authors I've spoken to stay far, far away from Goodreads. Because Goodreads is brutal on authors, and some of us would rather not know. So, now that you can expect at least one negative critique of your book, how does one respond to such a review? What should an author do in the face of such bad press?

NOTHING.

Let me say that again. NOTHING.

At the very, very least, you can email or post a comment thanking that reviewer for their time in reading and reviewing your book. Then you go and rant to your best friend, or your hubby, or your dog. You do not take out your hurt and frustration on the reviewer. You do not leave a comment on their blog, defending yourself and your book. You do not tell them how wrong they are, and that they must have misunderstood your writing, and that everyone before them has given your book steller reviews. Because it doesn't matter. You aren't going to change their opinion--again with that word OPINION--and you are only hurting yourself and your career by acting in such an unprofessional manner.

Yes, I know. Negative reviews hurt. They downright suck. Believe me, I've gotten more then my share, and its not fun reading "Julie Kagawa, you give fairies a bad name." (Actual review.) I know your book is your greatest achievement, and that you've come far and struggled so hard to get it published, and you should be very proud of that. I know its hard when you wrote the best story you could, went through all the heartache and uncertainty of getting it published, only to have a virtual stranger put it down like its nothing, like we don't have feelings and it doesn't tear us apart every time someone is cruel. I know its unfair that we can't defend ourselves.

But that's the world of authors and reviewers, and the only classy way to respond to bad reviews is graciously or not at all.

Thankfully, there are many out there who will love your book and your stories, and those reviews will be wonderful and glowing and make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. But, if you are to swim these treacherous waters of authordom, you must also be prepared to lose a little blood, as well. This is just fair warning, take it from someone who knows, and start working on that thick skin. And a sense of humor can help tremendously.

So that's my two cents on authors and negative reviews. Comments and discussions are welcome. However, any mean, ugly, or hateful comments will be eaten by the gremlins.

Julie

51 comments:

  1. Julie ths is wonderful, thoughtful and classy! Thank you for your level head admist the drama!

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  2. THANK YOU FOR RE-POSTING THIS. It's much-needed.

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  3. That is brilliant, thank you so much for this. As a blogger, reviewer and aspiring writer the last few days have been... tense, to say the least. This was great to hear x

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  4. Julie, I love your books and that's such... WOW. Really good! You're such a role author model! THANK YOU! :)

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  5. Thank you. Thank you for being one of the awesome authors in all of this mess.

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  6. I sign that :) but I have to add: it not only sucks for the author. Even I as a reader hurt when I read bad reviews about my favourite books (mostly because sometimes they state the truth: a book can't be perfect and will have flaws, no matter how much you adore it). That hurts even more than senseless mean words, but in the end, you're right. It does not matter. I will still love that book with all my heart <3

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  7. This is an awesome blog, that truly shows how a professional author acts (and should act). Kudos!

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  8. <3 you Julie - posts like this make me respect you even more as an author.

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  9. I agree but at some point the goodreads or similar sites have to take action and stop the mean spirited attacks. I understand saying this book isn't for me but it feels like some people are being mean to get attention. As a fan of the authors and books it's a horrible feeling to stand by and watch people throw insults at the author and know that you can't do anything about it.

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  10. Very classy advice and well written :)

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  11. Excellently put. Yes, we authors have feelings and it hurts to see critical reviews, especially if those reviews are mocking and scathing, as some inevitably are. But it never, ever does an author good to get defensive and angry about it, much less attack the reviewer in question. Better for authors to stay away from reading reviews entirely, if it becomes that upsetting and demoralizing to them.

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  12. Well said, Julie. Thank you for re-posting. Good advice for life as well.:)

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  13. I need to say. FINALLY!
    Finally an author who understands the reviewer rights.
    I'm a Brazilian reviewer and as such,i own my readers a honest review!

    I know that it's not easy to hear criticism,and I must say did I definitly don't like
    bad reviews - where the reviewer just say bad things about the author as a person. This is totally uncalled for.

    Excellent post!

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  14. I totally agree! EVERYBODY, author or not, goes through this this stuff, and this is something that's really inspirational. Attacks like that always happen when you're out in the world and vulnerable like that. Thank you for making me love that much more, and for giving me good advice during a dark time in my life. :)

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  15. Great post! It's a reminder I needed to hear about now, too. Thanks!

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  16. Wow, you're really the best. We all have our up and down days; today was totally an up day thanks to you. But don't forget that we, your fans, always, always, ALWAYS have your back :)

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  17. Yet again, why you are one of my favorite authors. Thank you!

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  18. Thanks, Mrs. Kagawa. I personally love your books, but I've recently gotten my first bad review, and it is hard. This is wonderful advice for new or aspiring (or even seasoned) authors. :)

    Alexandra~

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  19. Thank you for this gentle reminder. Unfortunately, authors behaving badly become victims themselves of pile-ons. Nothing served by that either.

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  20. Thank you for posting this. As a reviewer it's hard to post negative reviews, saying I didn't like the book and what I didn't like is hard to do because I don't want to hurt an author. I'm glad you laid it out so nicely though. Not everyone will love the same books.

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  21. I have read books that haven't gotten good reviews. I have realized that everyone has different tastes. Alot of the books that people didn't care for, I really did like. I imagine as an author it hurts to get a person that gives you a bad review, especially after all the time and soul you put in it. For every bad review there is 100 good reviews.

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  22. I have read books that haven't gotten good reviews. I have realized that everyone has different tastes. Alot of the books that people didn't care for, I really did like. I imagine as an author it hurts to get a person that gives you a bad review, especially after all the time and soul you put in it. For every bad review there is 100 good reviews.

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  23. I was planning to write a post in which I gave my full-throated, vigorous agreement, but you said everything I wanted to say better than I could say it. Kudos.

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  25. This is very good advice. Thanks!

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  26. Thank you for your post. As blogger and reviewer I strive to give an honest opinion and explain what I liked and didn't like about a book in a tasteful manner.

    I have to say that I don't understand why anyone wouldn't like your books! Ash is one of my favorite characters ever!!!

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  27. Thanks for this blog. I'm an aspiring author and two days before Christmas I received the results from a contest I entered in the fall. I'm not new at entering contests and usually get some great feedback. I take some advice and ignore other advice. I move on. But the hurtful comments one judge gave me for this particular contest took my breath away. No helpful feedback, just nastiness. I vowed I'd never write again. For the past two weeks, I believed her/his words. Thanks for voicing what I couldn't rationalize in my own mind.

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  28. "Julie Kagawa, you give faries a great name" (An actual review)

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  29. This post is amazing. Enough said.
    Everyone's entitled to his/her opinions, but I personally love your books. So there.
    :]

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  30. I know exactly what you mean! I feel horrible whenever I read a mean review of Iron Fey because I LOVE it SOO much! It's literally like I'm the one getting insulted. But they're allowed to have their own opinions and I respect that. :]

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  31. Very, very well said. I'm so glad that some author realize bloggers don't have a problem with the author. We just didn't like the story. It's nothing personal.

    Alison at The Cheap Reader

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  32. Due to internet connection issues I've come late to the drama (which I'm happy about).

    Well said Julie and I can only hope that other authors and reviewers will read this post and let some of what you say sink in.

    As a book reviewer I believe the golden rule is: You're reviewing the book, NOT the author. Because the profanity-laden and personal attacks that sometimes get posted as reviews give the rest of us reviewers a bad name. I, for one, review books because I LOVE reading and that's something most reviewers and authors will have in common.

    Shelagh
    The Word Fiend

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  33. Thank you Julie for posting this again. I totally agree with everything you've said.

    x

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  34. First of all, I'm surprised you have neg reviews. I love The Iron Fey! But I do agree with your post. I also want to say of the two incidents this week, I really found one review to be quite harsh. However, all the comparison to my all time favorite book while portrayed as a downside to the book being reviewed made me want to read it. Since the reviewer had been so snarky, I planned to leave a comment letting them know their review made me want the book, until I scrolled down to the comments and saw what happened. Even bad reviews can be helpful to an author, and if they're not fair, a balanced person will know this. But once you've responded to a reviewer like that, you're no longer sympathetic and may hurt your own sales by showing potential readers you can be a bully.

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  35. I can't believe someone sould purposefully do that! i mean, sure you can have your own opinions, but how would that person feel tog et their work criticized? I get that some people need to rant (I certainly do...) but still...I have to admit, most of my reviews have one small paragraph that shows what i disliked, but I'm not flaming anyone! Hmmm....

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  36. You are right but I'm not sure how much that will help. But thanks anyway!

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  37. Give....faeries....a....bad....name?!?! Who on earth?!?! *deepbreath* Maybe they just don't like fantasy.... Will resist urge to track down and torch reviewer.... Luv u, Julie K.!

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  38. Thank you so much for putting this information out there. I'm getting ready to have my books publish, and I need to prepare for this. I've been on some authors reviews and I'm noticing the same thing you are. The reviews are harsh. I can't believe how mean some people can be. From a future author, THANK YOU!

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  39. Thank you so much for the warning miss! I've looked up to you and decided to become a writer when i grow up, but I never knew about the negative reveiws. I'll keep an eye on tht and deal with it gracefully ;)

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  40. I get exactly what you mean but even as a reader I break the whole say nothing rule if someone is tearing down something you love. For example, one blog (which I will not name though it wasn't mine and I unfollowed it after because I got sick of the bad reviews and comments on book stuff) was doing a cover review post and what was good and bad about the cover of a book and they were reviewing The Immortal Rules and I loved the cover and couldn't wait for the book but they were meant to say the good and bad but they just started saying it was horrible and overdone well I placed a nicely worded comment telling them to shut up and learn how to know good books and covers and that they should probably delete their blog because no one was going to read it after they said those awful things. Maybe it wasn't that nicely worded after all... Oh well they deserved every bit of it.

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  41. As a blogger who reviews books, I must say that I wish more authors had your stance on this. We state that we will post our opinion, whatever it is...and usually everyone is ok with it. However when I recently got a page long email telling us how we didn't know anything and providing very personal details about the authors life...I couldn't bring myself to read the entire email and politely let the author know that - though I probably should have done nothing too. I just hate to see other reviewers getting bashed for their opinions on the book as well.

    Great post! - Jessica @ Book Sake

    On the other side of the fence, I've gotten emails back from authors that we gave a 1 or 2 star review from and they still thanked us because they know it's still getting the word out there about their book and it won't be for everyone. A prime example - We have comments on reviews like that from readers that say that the things that bothered us wouldn't be a problem for them - so they are still going to pick the book up.

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  42. And that, folks, is why I own every book Julie's written. This is the kind of author I want to put my money behind.

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  43. This is so inspirational, Julie! I think every author should be as professional as you are! I gave one author a slightly bad yet honest review, and then that author emailed me, saying that they couldn't visit my blog further and asked me to take my review down because of the "bad buzz" it was getting! I personally think that was really unprofessional and extremely rude since I, as a reader and reviewer, owe other people honest reviews.

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  44. JULIE KAGAWA: YOU MADE ME FALL IN LOVE WITH FAERIES.
    Thank you so much Julie!!

    p.s. uhh...I just started using Goodreads......it annoys me a lot when people post rude comments/reviews out there even when I agree with some of the things they say. I use Goodreads to keep a record of what I have read, look for more books I might like and share some of my opinions, NOT to insult anyone or anything and show the world how rude a person I can be.
    I admire every author in the world just for being an author, no matter what I think of what they write. It takes a lot of effort AND courage to complete a work and then share it with the world. Leave writers some hope, people.

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  45. I would just like to say that I totally agree with your post, seeing as I write poetry. But I'd just like to say I read lots of books about fairies, and I love all of them, because they all have their own backgrounds and tales about the fairy world. They are DIFFERENT. you wouldn't read a book that was the same as another but just had different names and titles.

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  46. I think I commented on this post last time. I still don't understand how there could be a bad review for The Iron Fey, but I agree that there should be no torching. You are ever so wise, Julie!

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  47. Um, excuse me, but the reviewer DID NOT say "Julie Kagawa, you give fairies a bad name." The reviewer was talking about Ash and how HE gives fairies a bad name. I agree with that reviewer. You might make some good points in this article, but your lack of attention to details in reviews brought you down a bit in my eyes. You put words in someone's mouth and that is wrong. I agree, terrible reviewers are terrible, but claiming someone said something they didn't just to get pity is just as bad. Sorry, but the truth hurts sometimes.

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