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Sunday, 9 February 2014

Reviews: But why can't I respond?

Authors are told repeatedly not  respond to negative reviews. Ignore them, they say. Don't comment. Don't respond.

How many other jobs are there where someone can tell you repeatedly how bad you are at it yet you aren't allowed to respond?

I'll be honest, fear prevents me from responding. And an understanding of my instinctive reaction which is 'Hey, you've just totally ripped out my heart and trampled it to sh**'. I'm terrified of being portrayed as a badly behaved author. I'm so damned scared of receiving hate mail. Or having my books all marked as one stars by gangs of reviewers. Because this has happened to others. I've been bullied before and I don't want it to happen again in adulthood. I'm a contradiction of outspoken friendliness hiding the biggest bundle of nerves and fear and every harsh word eats at me inside. I think many writers are the same.

Do I support free speech? Yes. Do I respect others' right to an onion? Yes. Do I like receiving negative reviews? Hell no. Please, I'd far rather have all 5 stars, of course I would! But on the matter of free speech, why can't I respond without fear of retaliation? Why can't I have the same freedom?

Particularly when it's a lovely one liner, like 'I don't like first person books.'

Really? That's it? All you've got say?

As a reader, that means nothing to me. I wouldn't find that useful. A friend of mine received a review stating that it was too expensive, even though the reader got it on a free promotion. Seriously? You didn't pay, so why does price matter to you?

To be honest, this is probably my response to any reviews I've received that have been hurtful or unnecessary. I know no one believes their own opinion to be unnecessary but when it helps no-one it is. I won't relish negative reviews ever but I can tell the difference between a genuinely thought out one and a rant (like this blog post perhaps ;) ?) and in my mind I will be plotting my response. It may never get published but I will be cursing the idiot who wrote it for being, well, an idiot.

So there we go. I've done it. I've responded. Maybe not directly but this is my response. I'm not hiding. I'm trying not to be scared and failing. Not all reviews are created equal.


8 comments:

  1. I know I'm not much, but you have made one loyal fangirl! :) I responded on another similar blog post this morning about how frustrated these nasty people make me as well. I'm just a book nerd whose greatest love is books, and because of that, authors are my rock stars and I can't imagine what thrill these people get from bashing authors and books! It is something I will never understand, and I hate that you all have to go through that.

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    1. I feel the same, Michelle. I'm still a reader, first and foremost really as that was my first love, and I don't get it. Thank goodness there are lovely people like you around!

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  2. I agree with Michelle's comments. There are a lot of people out there who love to read your books Samantha and you are a great author. Never doubt that. Your books make many readers happy and that is a gift not everyone has. I cannot imagine why some individuals are so negative. It can only be because they feel powerless in their own lives perhaps and feel that they can say such things without fear of reprisals. They are just true bullies and unfortunately many of us have come across them at school or in the work place. Virtual 'hugs' from another of your readers who hate that such negativity exists.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Tina. It is such a shame that bullies have found a place they can thrive and be looked up to. The support of readers like yourself and Michelle goes a long way to help combat the negativity.

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  3. I feel your pain and do find it extremely annoying when people cannot give a decent opinion. yes it hurts when someone gives constructive criticism but these are the reviews tat do make us strive to be better.

    Sadly the nonconstructive negative reviews are far more common. If someone does not like a book in first person, why the hell did they buy it? It's very easy to check the first few pages on Amazon. I've chosen to not buy a number of books that way based on things like the authors voice or a "Scottish" brogue which makes my eyes bleed (by the way, I love your Scottish brogue). It's dreadfully unfair that you cannot respond but it is for the best. You can't win an internet argument.

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    1. You're very right, Em. It's a shame, but we have to be the bigger person and move on, as hard as it is.

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  4. I firmly believe GR can be a negative reviewing site. It doesn't take too many mean-spirited people who have nothing more productive to do with their time to sully the philosophy behind GR and the good reputations of authors. I avoid it and only put reviews there if an author asks me to. I decide what I want to read - and certainly don't listen to malicious drivel to make my book-buying decisions.

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    1. Thanks for coming by, Ann. I'm the same when choosing books. In fact, I don't think reviews actually have a huge impact on sales. I chose by the blurb usually and I know a lot of people just fall for covers. But these reviews sadly still have an affect on the author.

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