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Posts Tagged ‘responding to reviews’

When I was a newbie writer, I had no idea I wasn’t supposed to respond to reviews. And I did a couple of times until I was told it was a no-no. I look back at that time now, and I’m kind of embarrassed. But one of the reasons I thought it was okay is that I work in a retail/wholesale business, and we are told we ARE supposed to respond to reviews. We are supposed to try to make the customer happy in any way we can. And I’ve noticed on Amazon, for physical products, many vendors do respond to reviews.

So why aren’t authors supposed to? Honestly, I don’t have a good answer for that. I have some ideas, but I’m not sure I’m right. What I’m thinking is that books are so subjective that we can’t really respond to an unhappy reader and make things better. Either they liked it or they didn’t. But what about books that are badly edited? Should authors say anything about that or just hang their head in shame and try to fix the problem without responding? Should an author thank the reader for pointing that out and say they will do their best to correct the situation?

What even started me thinking about all this is an email I got from a company who helps businesses get reviews. It was a link to their blog post that talks about how you should never (on your own site…you can’t fix Amazon) take down negative reviews because it seems untrustworthy to do that. Which I have to agree with. They talked about how you should always respond in some way that assures the customer you’ll do everything in your power to correct the problem. So why can’t authors do that? Why are we limited when other retailers are encouraged to do it? Just something to think about.

What do y’all think?

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I know that most of you don’t need me to tell you this. But if there are any newbies out there reading this, you may not realize the backlash that could occur from anything you say on the internet.

Back when I was ignorant of a lot of things pertaining to indie publishing (or any publishing), someone left a bad review on one of my books. This was before I acquired a thick skin about this kind of thing. Some of the things that were said were a little snarky, so it kind of rubbed me the wrong way. One of my friends jumped to my defense and replied to the review, and she said some things that I wish she hadn’t, but that started the ball rolling. Then I put in my two cents worth. I thought I was just being honest and I didn’t really realize at the time that I shouldn’t respond to bad reviews AT ALL. I thought I was pretty calm about the whole thing and the reviewer was pretty nice in her response, but it still was a bad, bad thing for me to do. Reviews are for the readers, not for authors to get defensive and respond to. Not everyone is going to like your book. Anyway, the only reason this is coming up now is because there was a response today on the comments from that review. A year later! And the person who wrote the comment felt like I was out of line, although I didn’t agree with a lot of what she said about my response. And it took all the willpower I possessed not to respond to that comment. But I took the high road and didn’t. This is just one instance of how what you say on the internet stays on the internet. I did have one review that I responded to a little more recently (although not too recently, lol) and it was because I was attacked personally. It wasn’t a true review. My author friends told me I shouldn’t even have responded to that one. I asked Amazon to take that review down and they did immediately.

So please, when you see something said about your book you don’t like, take a deep breath and forget it. I know you want to respond. It will drive you crazy not to. But don’t do it! It looks unprofessional and whiny when you respond to negative remarks. There are some reviewers who write bad reviews because they enjoy it. That’s just going to happen. And some people will simply not like your book and feel like they have to tell everyone. If you can’t handle anything negative said about your book, take Zoe Winters’ advice and don’t read your reviews. Try to stay cool and professional on the internet. Because what you say on the internet stays on the internet!

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