We’ve all been there. That awkward moment when you finish writing a less than positive review and the author asks you:
It’s every reviewer’s worst nightmare to be chastised for their opinion of a book. Reading is a very personal experience that is going vary from person to person and it can be rather daunting and intimidating when your own personal experience is questioned or challenged by the author. Disliking a book does not equate dislike of the author and yet this is what a lot of reviewers are being accused of. I’m not sure where the disconnect is coming from because it’s really not a difficult concept to grasp.
Though for whatever reason, this is becoming a huge problem, particularly in the YA reviewer/author community. And I just wish it would stop. Authors blasting reviewers on Twitter, sending reviewers emails questioning their intelligence, and antagonizing them in their review space; these things are not cool. I realize that hearing criticism for something you pour you heart and soul into for months can be hard, but it’s just part of the game. I know I personally have written some pretty scathing reviews myself, though I’ve never attacked an author personally, but that’s just how I roll. Hell, if I wrote a book and someone wrote a scathing honest review of it, I’d probably go drown my sorrows in a pint of ice cream, cry a river on Kat’s shoulder as she gently told me to “Man the hell up, Sinclair!” (tough love!), and go blow some shit up on Halo. Then, I’d go write an even better book.
“But, Y U so mean?” *sigh* I never set out to hurt anyone’s feelings when I write a review. In fact, I would bet a few signed books that most reviewers don’t. I know if I start thinking about “Oh, this may hurt ‘sensitive author’s’ feelings if I say…,” I’m not going to be able to give an honest review and don’t authors want those? Isn’t that the point of asking for reviews in the first place? I respond strongly to the written word as most avid readers do and I believe it’s a bit unfair for some authors to not expect strong reactions from both sides of the spectrum. It’s really unrealistic when you are writing to stir up emotions with your stories. Some people are going to fall in love and others are going to hate it with a fiery passion. That doesn’t mean they didn’t “get” your book or they are deliberately trying to ruin your life. A negative review can sell a book just as good as a positive one.
I also see an entitlement issue going on where some authors seem to think they are automatically owed 4-5 stars for simply writing a book! *headdesk* The arrogance is overwhelming. Back in early January during what we call The First Five Days on GoodReads, Veronica Roth touched on an important point about how authors and reviewers have a very unique relationship: we share the same Internet space. Sometimes I think authors forget that reviewers are not only part of the business, but also consumers themselves. And maybe that’s the problem. Perhaps we should be viewed as something like an extreme fan instead? Whenever I see an author lose their shit over a review (mostly well thought out reviews), I think of all the young teens who also blog and review. Not everyone who blogs has a ton of reader friends and followers to back them up in the event of an author attack. Thankfully, the reader/reviewer community is truly amazing. We have a knack for sniffing out the wank and defending our own.
So what do when you run across a review that hurts your feelings? Well, first off, I would hope all authors realize that it is still possible for a reviewer to dislike a book and love the author. I’ll give you a few of my own personal examples. I didn’t connect well with Anna Dressed in Blood, Wildefire, or Under the Never Sky but I love, love, love Kendare Blake, Karsten Knight and Veronica Rossi. They are so awesome about negative reviews and just all around fun people. And because of that, I’m probably going to read their sequels, maybe even buy them. So many times I don’t think authors realize that not only does your cover and blurb help sell your book, but also your actions and relationship to the reviewer community. The customers. Because at the end of the day we want to support authors to keep writing our alternate universes. If anyone interacts with Kat and I on GoodReads they would know how much we promote books and authors well love. We do it like crazy. Seriously, we have no lives.
So, you know what you do when you run across something that hurts your feelings?
Just close the browser window and hug your pillow close. Or go read and cuddle your 5 star reviews. Please, don’t blog about it. You will look like a complete douch. Please, don’t tweet about it where we all can see. You will resemble a bully. Please, don’t attack us in emails. The internet is not a private place. Please, don’t put it on FaceBook linking to our reviews! That is just wrong. Please, don’t send your rabid, die-hard fans to troll our review or blog. Reel those people in. Please, don’t send us emails asking to change our reviews. They are our honest opinion. Please, don’t give us crap about how we like to shelve our books on GoodReads. We are customers. Please, think twice before commenting on a negative review. You’d be toeing the line. Please, don’t give us a reason to dislike you.
A negative review is not the end of the world. Be happy people are adding the book to their shelves. Be happy people are reading your book! Be happy people know your book exists. Be happy someone cared enough to actually write a review longer than a sentence. Everyone has neagtive reviews: J.K. Rowling (people even burn her books!), Stephenie Meyer, Dan Brown, Stephen King… I could go on and on. And you know what? You don’t see them losing sales or their cool. Keep it professional and keep on writing. And for all those authors out there that don’t have these issues, keep being awesome.
Now, can we all just gather around the campfire and sing “The Campfire Song” song?