Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Don't Do It

Today's post is about authors. Especially new authors and aspiring authors. This came about as a result of something I saw recently. I won't go into too many details because this is a general post, not attacking or accusing anyone specifically.

No matter how tempting it is to respond to a low rating or a bad review...don't. Don't send the reader who rated your book low a note telling them they are a fool. You will be the fool. Don't accuse them of not having paid for the book simply because they did not like it.

Even if a reader buys book after book of yours and rates them all low...don't. Even if someone implies that anyone who does like your work must be drinking the koolaid...do not engage.

Because as has been said, no story will appeal to everyone. No writer will appeal to everyone. There will be readers who like all but one of your books, there will be readers who like half of your books, and there will be readers who like none of your books.

Bad reviews and low ratings hurt. I'm not going to lie. But you have to get over it. If you can't, then don't go to review sites and reader groups. Don't google your name. Don't.

Don't even encourage your fans to defend you from a bad review. Not a good idea. Sure, you can't help it if they do it anyway, but when they do, it reflects on YOU.

I also think, as an author, it's not a good idea to dogpile on another author who makes the error in judgment and makes a fool of him or herself. Really, just let it go. You aren't adding anything. You're just trying to get readers to see YOU would never do that.

So, not to beat a dead horse here, but really, if you must, draft a private response and email it to yourself and no one else so you can have vented. But never ever send it to the reader. Don't.

Off my soap box now. Have a good week.


  1. Very good advice, Shawn. Such kerfuffles seem to happen regularly and in virtually every case, I find myself thinking less of the author in the end. Usually, if the author hadn't responded to the reviewer, there would never have been a kerfuffle and I would never have seen the less-than-favorable review.

  2. That whole situation was like watching a train wreck. Horrific but you can't look away, which brings me to Chris's point: if the author hadn't sent that response, very few people would have seen the review to begin with, but now everyone knows exactly what was said.

    And the whole thinly veiled accusation of theft??

    *Shakes head in sheer disbelief*

    I'll admit, I do still have Google alerts for myself and my books, and I do still read reviews. But I would never dream of sending an email of that sort or engaging someone who is only expressing their opinion (and having seen many of this person's reviews, in a very non-confrontational way).

    Great advice, Shawn. You've always been a great role model for me..I thank you.

  3. That is good advice for anyone, Shawn. Sending the angry email or leaving an angry comment may be cathartic at the time, but it can come back to bite a person. This is advice that probably applies to all professions. I've wanted to send a sarcastic email to a principal or a parent a time or two, but I knew that in the end, it would only backfire on me.

  4. Wise words, Shawn. Since I have no idea who you are talking about, or even know about the situtation until your post I will say I have seen some pretty shitty things said about books on goodreads. I do understand why a author would try to defend their work, but I also understand why you can't.
    Blows either way.

  5. I've been at the recieving end of this as a reviewer and an author. I gave a book a negative review as Daisiemae a couple of years ago. The author was new and took it horribly. He harassed me publicly and privately for months afterward. To this day, he stills sends me messages pleading for me to read his book again and give it a fair review. He's one reason I don't review as much anymore. It just wasn't worth it.
    As Andi, I've gotten great reviews and some tacky ones. I know that my style of writing isn't for everyone, so I try to let it flow off of my shoulders. When I noticed a couple of people on goodreads, who I know WILL NOT like my book, I confess I wanted to cringe because I knew what's coming! I was right. Now, I just don't read reviews much at all, unless it's from my internet family.
    I want to point out that Shawn helped me when I was actively being harrassed by the author, and she has helped me very much as an author as well. I think I'm very lucky to have such great mentors like Shawn, Ava and Devon. Y'all show by example how to handle any negative situation with grace, no matter what it is.
    Thanks for that girls!

  6. Thanks Eyre, Zach, and Shell.

    Yeah Zach, it can blow, lol. You have to have a thick skin. Sometimes it thins out, though. It's during those times you have to refrain from being an idiot.

    I adore your reviews, Shell. So I look forward to more. ;-)

  7. I'm jumping on Shelli's 'Shawn's an awesome mentor' bandwagon. Cause you really are awesome, girl! I can always count on you to give level-headed advice. You taught me early on to just 'don't do it'. :)

  8. Oh, and it's Devon's bandwagon, too. There are lots of us on it. LOL

  9. LOL, now you have me blushing.

    I think it's perfectly fine to vent privately to your bff or other close friends about a low rating or a bad review (I'm sure we all do this), just don't make it public.

  10. Well even though I've only been published since 2008 I have been around in the business writing and observing for a LONG time. :D

  11. Great post, Shawn. It's definitely something that authors should take to heart. I've had it happen to me a few months ago and it briefly resurfaced a couple of weeks ago. It was not a good situation at all.

    As far as this particular case I was almost caught in it again. Luckily thanks to a great friend I found out about this and turned down the review request before starting the book. With all the stuff going on in my life right now I did not need another unhappy author harassing me.

    I can understand not agreeing with a review but if that's the case it should be handled privately and respectfully. These public tantrums only end up hurting the author and their reputation.

  12. I remember that, Lily.

    It really never ends well. Ever.

  13. Author etiquette 101 - Well said Shawn..

    You keep on doing what you do.... and how you do it..


  14. You have a big beautiful heart...so it's natural that you've been such a fabulous influence on others.
    Perfectly said, AF.