One of the great and terrifying things about having books out in the world is that people you don’t know are able to read them and, if they feel the urge, offer their opinions on them. Sometimes these opinions will make you feel all warm and fuzzy and loved and clever. Sometimes they won’t. Because it would be a dull world if we all liked the same thing and there may (oh, who am I kidding, there will) be people out there who don’t like your book, and will give it a bad review.
Bad reviews are like rejections – all part of the job. And however much you might rant and swear and call people stupid in the privacy of your own home where only the cat can hear, don’t take it to the internet.
How to react to good reviews.
YMMV. Some people don’t respond at all to any reviews. That’s fine. Some people may click on the “like” button of a review, or retweet it – I tend to fall into this camp. Some authors use it as an opportunity to chat to reviewers about the book. I tend not to do that because I feel them might not want to be chattered at by me – readers have ample opportunities to talk to me if they want to, and I feel that if I tried to do it, I would come across as a bit needy. Having said that, if someone gives me a nice review and I know them, I’ll drop them an email to say thank you. But this is because I’m a shy person. Mark Lawrence chats to reviewers all the time and he seems to get on very well.
How to react to bad reviews.
Kick the cat*. Swear, eat your bodyweight in chocolate, run over some nuns on GTA. Then get back online and say nothing. Do not carp about negative reviews. Even if the other person is Massively Wrong On The Internet, resist the urge to set them right, no matter how tempting it is or how wrong they are. All that will happen is that you will end up looking like a douche who can’t take criticism. It might be that they have a valid point, and this kind of constructive review can be just as valuable as a positive one. It might be that they don’t like your book because they don’t like that sort of thing. It might be that it wasn’t for them, or they find something in it disagreeable or they just plain don’t like it. Don’t forget that people (excluding obvious trolls) have taking time out of their day to make a comment on your stuff – they have read it and been bothered enough to offer an opinion, even if it’s not one that agrees with yours. That’s worth a lot.
The internet is littered with writers who have thrown their toys out of the pram because someone said their baby was ugly, poorly constructed, or contained too much puppy-stamping. None of these people have covered themselves in glory. And once you lose your shit online, it’s up there FOREVER, for potential future readers, publishers and agents to see. If you want to be taken seriously as a professional, you need to behave like one.
Some people advocate posting links to negative reviews for the sake of balance. I can see the reasoning, but I’m not sure I agree with it. I’ve seen authors – professional big-name authors – set packs of their fans on people who have had the temerity to leave a negative review, and to me that smacks of bullying. That’s why if I post links to reviews here I’m only going to post the positive ones. Not that I have rabid packs of fans, but I do always try to promote the positive on this blog.
Of course, all this talk of reviews handily reminds me that review copies of “The Art of Forgetting : Rider” are available from Sammy Smith at Kristell Ink via this link – http://www.kristell-ink.com/contact-us/ , and all reviews, positive or negative, will be gratefully received!
* Don’t kick the cat. This blog does not advocate cat-kicking. Or puppy-stamping.