Friday 20 April 2012

Authors On Reviews: To Comment Or Not To Comment

Authors On Reviews: To Comment Or Not To Comment
 This Event Hop is being hosted by 'Reading Romances' and is a chance for all bloggers to discuss a very important topic - Should authors comment on reviews - yes or no?

So that is what we shall discuss today:

My views:

There is a lot about authors commenting on reviews online and there is a lot of controversy on the subject. Some strongly object and others highly encourage it. Where do I stand? Somewhere in the middle. No I'm not trying to be awkward or chicken out of an answer, I honestly think it can go both ways. Let me explain.

I love it when I get emails and messages from authors. I love to visit authors and get books signed, I follow them on Twitter and Facebook, on Goodreads and Blogs. I love how easy it is in this modern world to connect to these wonderful people. There was a time when authors were almost mysterious beings that were in another world and pretty unreachable - these days you just need to click a few buttons and voila there they are. It opens up so many opportunities and makes the reading experience so much more real.
In this case I love it when I get comments from authors - a simple 'Thanks for the review' will make my heart soar and a giant smile appear on my face, sometimes I get a more in depth message, a 'wow, that's great, thanks for taking the time to read my book', things like that. Wow, encouragement from the author, it makes me feel special and appreciated.
I've even been lucky in the other way. I occassionally put up a negative review - now when I say negative - I will never say 'this book is rubbish!', I always explain properly why I didn't like it, whether it was the character, plot, my own personal taste, whatever reason. And I have had authors comment on these with a simple, 'thanks for reading my book, sorry it wasn't for you.' Always polite, and in a way this made me feel even better, they understood that I wasn't trying to be mean and they just appreciate their book being put out on the web.

So I think authors should be more than welcome to comment on reviews. Unless they can't control their emotions. This is where I think it shouldn't be allowed.

Not every review for a book can be positive. We as Humans all have different tastes, and thank God for that, how boring would the world be if we all liked the same things? I think what we all need to understand is that very point- we don't all like the same things, so not every comment or review will be positive. Yes these reviews can be hurtful, but it is not a personal attack on the author (at least I hope not, more on this below), it is merely an expression of opinion.

If an author sees a negative review, or something they don't like. I believe they are perfectly welcome to comment as long as they keep it calm, respectful and understanding, however if they are going to write obscenities or call the reviewer names,  then it would be better if they were kept away.
It's all about how they go about it.
If the author comments with a simple 'please explain why you feel this way', or something like that, then it is a chance for the reviewer to explain.
For example I did a review a couple of years ago, I can't remember exactly what I said or even what the book was, but i put something like 'I couldn't understand why the main character decided to abandon her partner, it just didn't seem like something she would do, the book changed for me at that point and I struggled to like the main character after that' (say not actually quoted, doing it from memory). I got a comment on that review from the author where she explained why she made the choice she did when writing and it turned out I had missed something whilst reading and it made a huge difference, suddenly the story made more sense and I duly changed my review, leaving both me and the author a lot happier. She handled it well and it turned out great. Now imagine if that same author had commented with a 'are you stupid or something, how dare you say that, just because you didn't understand my book, doesn't mean it should be given a bad review...' it would have been a very different situation.

Now I know some negative reviews are written by people who have attitude and will blatantly attack the author and write all sorts of hurtful comments, but it is not going to help if an author comments and responds back in the same way. There is a way to go about it. So if the author sees such a bad review - something that is just a personal attack, then they should not comment, they need to contact their publishers/agents/whoever deals with legal things. And they will send a take down notice to the reviewer, if it is really that bad it can be forced to be taken down or they can be taken to court.

But if it is just a difference of opinion there is never a reason for a comeback. It just makes the author look bad and will put others off.

I have seen negative reviews on books, in fact I quite like reading a mix of negative and positive, it gives me a wider view on what the book might be about. And most of the time I will still decide to pick up the book. But if I see that an author has commented on the review and slated the reviewer, then my estimation of the author rapidly decreases and it will put me off the book. I don't want to read something by someone so petty and obnoxious.After all most of us are not here to slate them, as reviewers we are here primarily to share our love of books, good and bad.

So, I know this has been very rambly and quite long, here's the summary.
I think authors have every right to comment on a review, why not, it's their work and as an aspiring author, I know that each book feels like sending a child out into the world, a part of you going out, it is very personal, but there is a way to handle things. As long as an author treats the reviewer with respect (deserved or not!) then I can't see any harm.

We've just got to hope that the few authors don't spoil it for the rest.

Have you ever had a comment from an author? Was it good or bad? Did it make your heart soar or your stomach drop? Tell me about your experiences.

Here is a list of all other participants, see what they have to say on the subject:


Tin said...


Stopping in from the hop!

"I have seen negative reviews on books, in fact I quite like reading a mix of negative and positive, it gives me a wider view on what the book might be about."

I do this also! -- which is why I don't think authors should worry so much about reviews that are 3-stars or lower. I think they should trust their work and the readers to be able to discern whether a book is for them or not --

(And, like you, I've also picked up books that have had less-than-stellar reviews and found myself loving them.)

Jenn of Frequent Reader, Infrequent Blogger said...

I like comments personally. I think my favorite author comment was when an author told me my review left him drowning in a pool of his own tears. He went on to state my review was one of the best and worst he'd ever received and that made my day even more than the comments I've gotten just thanking me for a review. Saying that made me feel that even though he realized the book wasn't for me he found it helpful. Plus the way he said it made me smile. A comment like that is proof that just as you can make a negative review helpful to a writer, a writer can in return say no your review didn't make them do a happy dance, but they see your points. Writers who can do this are what make blogging so much fun so yes I love their comments even on my bad reviews.

Unknown said...

great thoughts on this subject & I totally agree with you!

barmybex said...

Tin - thanks, good to hear others do that too. I agree, I think negative reviews can be just as helpful!
Jenn- that was a great comment you got. It really all depends on how the author looks at it, just as I was trying to say. He took your review at face value, didn't take it as an attack. Thanks for sharing your experience. :D
Vanessa - thanks for the comment. :D

Nat (Lendo Romances) said...

Rants and bashing are never the answer. Reviews that aren't properly written and explained can cause a big trouble for the reviewer, we need to think a lot before publishing something on the internet, We're responsable for what we share!

Thanks for participating in my blog hop!

barmybex said...

Thanks for hosting it, awesome job. ;D