A couple of days ago I stumbled upon a forum about how it was unprofessional and disturbing for an author to comment on a review, even if it was just to say thank you, or answer a query brought up by the reader.

As I am very to new in the world of publishing, writing and KDP, this came as a surprise. Before self publishing my debut novel, I researched as much as I could, reading through hundreds of forum threads related to the subject of writing, Amazon, self-publishing, the traditional publishing route and much more. It was only by accident I came upon the discussion of authors commenting on reviews.

I got this picture from the thread:

It is not ok for the author to comment upon a reader’s review, even if the author is thanking the reader for taking the time to talk about the book in question. It is not ok for an author to respond to a negative review (though I do sympathise with authors I would also agree to this circumstance purely because it brings attention to something that may have been overlooked, especially if there was only one negative comment). 

Readers feel invaded if the author responds, as they believe it can disrupt the honesty. They feel watched and are less likely to write their true opinions. It is a reader’s domain, a place for other readers to get the chance to find out how others felt about the book and form their own opinions. It seems the only time an author is forgiven for their intrusion is if they are informing the readers of a change in their book or corrected editing issues.

Now, as I said, I am very new to this and every day I gain experience, every day I learn something new and every day I am surprised and fascinated by the things I read, see and hear. So this discussion left an alarming amount of thoughts and opinions whirling around my head.

Firstly, as an avid reader of a huge range of books, I would be pleased if an author, who I admired, took the time to respond to my comments. For example, I idolise Laurell. K. Hamilton and if she ever sent me a message, I think I would sit in shock for several minutes before I could shakily write a reply. Same goes for Cassandra Clare, Karin Slaughter and many other authors who have inspired me. I would also not be offended by an author thanking me for my views

Secondly, I see it from the reviewer’s/reader’s point of view. It must be incredibly daunting to discover the author is reading everything they write and it must make them think twice about what they are writing when a review should be an honest opinion. I also believe an author should not get involved with negative comments left by a reviewer because I have seen it escalate in to very serious slagging matches that end up giving the author a bad reputation and leave the reviewer somewhat miffed.

Thirdly, I have to feel for the author in both scenarios. To want to say thank you to a lovely review and comment on a negative or insulting review. Before reading the thread, admittedly, I believe I would have been tempted to respond to certain reviews (though not the negative as I tend not to be the type that confront others). For me, saying thank you to a nice review is good manners and being thankful for something should not be looked down on. I believe, however, this is a product of my upbringing. I was taught to say thank you and please and it comes naturally to me.

But I have learned from the discussion, and it seems if a reviewer wants you to personally respond to them, they will send you a message through your website/e-mail addy/Amazon author page/Goodreads etc.

I would love to hear your views, what you think of this topic and your personal experiences. Life is all about learning, after all.

(I will personally delete any offensive material)

 


Comments

Thayer Berlyn
04/20/2012 2:26pm

I just recently came upon this rule of thumb, myself. I don't know if, in fact, it is a more recent rule or one that I simply missed all along. I thanked each of my reviewers on Amazon, UK and Goodreads. Of course, this was before finding out it was not the best thing to do. But I wonder, too, if it is simply a rule imposed by some and others could care less or, even appreciate the gesture of acknowledgement. I just don't know.

I think I will simply not express any thoughts on reviews for future books, though. I'm glad you brought the subject up.

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Victoria Limbert
04/20/2012 2:35pm

Thank you for commenting Thayer. The forum I found this on was interesting. It was a shock to me that a reviewer would feel intimidated by an author commenting for thanking them, but I can also understand the reasoning. One spoke of an author who hated his review so much, 2 years later he was still arguing about it.

Not good for author rep, I guess. It must be hard not to be tempted to eithet thank or comment on a bad review though.

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06/08/2012 2:02am

Hello,
I am very surprised to read that an author can not give an opinion on a review.
Indeed, it will soon be one year since my blog exist and I post there regularly.
I received some answers from authors thanking me for my review and I've never felt spied or less free because I had received a response. Rather, it is also interesting and flattering to know that a blogger is read by an author...


Sometimes I get just a "thank you" and I wonder if it's out of politeness or if it's an automatic response but I'm happy anyway.
Once an author has even bothered to explain me that its plot was based on a real life while I thought the intrigue pop-up right out of his imagination.
I enjoy having exchanges on point of views. It motivates me to continue my work honestly. And it takes some times to write a blog so to be reward by a comment it always gratifying (whoever is coming from).

On Goodreads, I read a blogger who was surprised to have received negative feedback from a writer who judges his reviews a little too harsh.
On Goodreads, I read a blogger who was surprised to have received negative feedback from a writer who judges his reviews a little too harsh.

For my part, I try to give my opinion and say what I did not like by trying to be constructive.
It's not enough to say: "it sucks, I did not like it"... A review like that will not help the writter to improve. It's the same for myself, when I write a review in English and a native praised me: I'm happy because it's not my language but if somebody put a comment to correct myself on my mistakes I will be bruise a little and after a moment I will be more motivated.

I also try never to forget that an author gets naked in front of a lot of people when sharing his work. So criticize just for fun hurts and it is also a lack respect.

And to be really honest, reading makes me happy. If I'm charmed and seduced by the inventiveness of the author, I am pleased to announce it. But if I created a blog is also to meet people and have exchanges.
How interact with fans during a signing is differend than posting a "thank you" on a blog if it is sincere?

Lucie

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Victoria
06/08/2012 2:45am

Thank you for commenting Lucie. Was nice to hear from another point of view. I was honestly surprised myself when I came upon the forum about reviewers becoming angry if an author commented on their review.

I could understand if the author wrote a negative comment, but a thank you? I find it very difficult not to thank a reviewer for a great, honest review. Equally I would not dream about engaging in a debate over a negative review, those are best left alone.

I never thought about Blogs to be honest. I have commented on many blogs and thanked bloggers in the past if they have written something nice about me or my book. Hmmm, it never even crossed my mind. So maybe those who blog, either for fun or professionally, dont mind author comments as much as those who purely read and review for amazon or other similair sites.

Interesting to think about though.

Thank you again for taking interest in this discussion.

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06/17/2012 8:29am

Surprising and instructive! Sadly, I've only received four reviews to date, but I sent a note of thanks to each one. I'm glad I stumbled on your blog. As a newbie, I'm learning something new every single day as I try to publicize my book and beg for reviews. Thanks for your wise guidance. I'll definitely be coming back here!

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07/01/2012 7:58am

As a reviewer i love hearing back from my Author, most of my reviews are posative, even when they are negative, they are posative, i always give feed back, i alway ssay why i ddint like it and always point out something i did,

If an Author wants to contact me and say thank you i encourage it, infact i look forward to it.

If they do have something negative to say i let them say it, but i do make sure in my reply that they either scoped me out for review or they put their novel out for public eye not every one is going to like it and as an author thats a risk they have to take,

great post i love your views

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08/27/2012 4:39pm

This is definitely a dilemma from authors, but I bet both authors and readers sit equally into both camps. Your post does a great job of pointing out the pros and cons, and the commenters have been equally eloquent.

My own feeling is to stay away, and most definitely from getting into discussions (read as arguments) with readers. On some sites, like Goodreads, the author can like a comment, and I think that is a very neutral means to say "I acknowledge your kind review".

I agree, Victoria, with your thought that authors should encourage readers to communicate with them via their web site. As a soon-to-be published author, I intend to add a few comments into the back of my books, not only to politely request a review of the book, but also to repeat what I say on my site, that I welcome ALL emails and will reply to them all. (I guess unless I get really famous and get millions a week, LOL)

I for one, will not respond to any reader reviews, good or bad. But that's just me :)

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