If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that I do my fair share of reviews. It’s something I’ve come to love doing since starting my blog in July of 2021. However, being an author, the reviewer space has some very clear lines that I should never cross.
Coming into publishing, I knew that there would be people out there who didn’t like my work. Perhaps, because they don’t like my writing style. Maybe, because they hate my characters, my dialogue, my setting. There might even be people who hate my book because of its cover or maybe a personal cliche I use that rubs them the wrong way.
I braced myself for these reviews. In fact, I approached it the same way I approach posting my thoughts on social media: I prepare for dissenting opinions. And it’s okay! Not everyone is going to agree. What is for one person may not be for the other.
Reviews are for the consumer. They are not necessarily for the author.
You might be wondering why I’m even talking about this. Surely, this is just obvious, common knowledge, right?
Unfortunately, I’ve noticed a distressing trend where authors are engaging (unfavorably) with their readers.
I was preparing to review a book, and, as I often do, I like to consult other reviews on Goodreads and various other platforms to see what other people have said. I like to do this because I can see a wide array of opinions that differ from my own. It forces me to look more critically at a book or even underscore the criticisms/praises I wish to share. I was, frankly, shocked and appalled to see that a writer was engaging directly with their reviews. I wish I could say that it was a polite “thank you for your criticism. I will keep that in mind in my future writing endeavors.”
It was not.
This writer (who shall rename unnamed) was quite callous in their dismissal. Frankly, their response was cruel and uncalled for. Especially since their retort drew attention to (in my opinion) a fair, objective review. The dogpile was vicious.
The cherry on top was that this review was quite kind, in my opinion. The criticisms were valid, mentioning specific plot holes and writing crutches that ultimately hindered the text. In no way was the reviewer attacking the author. They were simply stating their opinion.
I was appalled. Both as an author who shares this creative space but as a reviewer. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t hesitate to post my review.
I had naively believed that this would be a one-off—
But I was wrong. I started to see more and more authors poking fun at their reviewers. Some even go so far as to blast their review (names and all) on their platform. Their approach is often “tongue-in-cheek,” sneering into their camera about how they were wrong for not liking their book. Or, how they were in some way deficient, because who could possibly take issue with their writing?
As it bears repeating, if someone doesn’t like your book, it’s not personal.
I love my sister to death, but half of the stuff she wears makes my eyes roll so hard I’m afraid they’ll fall down my throat. Does that make my sister a bad person? No. Just a horrid dresser. And guess what? That’s my opinion. Not fact. There are definitely people out there who are coo-coo for sandals with socks.
I get it. After spending months—sometimes years—slaving over your manuscript, you’re protective of it. Defensive, even. But you need to ask yourself one very important question: can you handle harsh opinions about your work? Because there will be harsh opinions. There will be people who tear apart your book just for fun. Can you handle that? If you can’t, then don’t publish. It’s not worth your mental health. And, simply, you can’t fight everyone who has something negative to say about your book.
Why is it important to respect reviewers’ spaces?
You, the author, are a supplier of sorts. Your book is your product. The readers/reviewers are your customers.
If you wait tables, would you expect those at your table to eat chicken that’s raw in the middle? No.
If you sell clothes, would you expect your customers to buy a pair of pants with a hole in the ass and wear them until the end of days? No. Of course not.
They’re spending their money, right? That pair of pants, to some people, can be a few hours of work. Same with that meal.
I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this. Your $15 book is—to some people—a few hours of work. Their hard-earned money is leaving their wallet to go to yours. Review spaces have always been sacred (and should stay that way) to protect consumers and their interests.
Bad reviews will happen.
And, trust me, I know how deep a particularly scathing review can cut. But alienating and calling out your readership for not enjoying your book is one surefire way to tell your readers one thing: you don’t care about them. You only care about your ego.
If you liked this blog, please give it a like, a comment, and share it with your friends! It really does help a lot! For more blogs like this, subscribe below to be notified of my next post! You can also follow me on Instagram, Twitter, like my Facebook Page, or follow me on Goodreads! If you like my work, and you’d like to support me on Patreon, you can find me here!